RICHMOND – The Redskins wrapped up their week with their fan appreciation day, which featured one full-pad practice session in front of a crowd announced at 20,477.
Although they were in pads, the physicality of today’s practice didn’t match that of last Monday’s. Jay Gruden continued to stress the importance of the players getting through this second week healthy so they can rest up on their off day Sunday, and then get back to work with strong practices Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday against the New England Patriots.
There was some hitting in today’s practice, but for the most part, defensive players tagged ball carriers rather than tackle them.
● The one-on-one drills did feature live action, the best of which came at the tail end of the special teams portion of practice. Chase Minnifield had the biggest hit of the day as he matched up with Aldrick Robinson, who tried in vain to put a move on the cornerback. Minnifield stuck Robinson with a hard, pad-cracking tackle and took him to the ground with authority, drawing the cheers of teammates and fans alike.
● Second-year safety Bacarri Rambo’s tackling woes continue. He lined up opposite ball-carrier Nick Williams, who zipped by as Rambo whiffed completely on a lunging tackle attempt. Rambo got up and instead of going to the back of the line, lined up at the front again to get a crack at redemption and Cody Hoffman. But Hoffman juked Rambo as well, and for a second straight time, he didn’t get a hand on his opponent.
● You’ve gotta love left tackle Trent Williams, who you can tell truly loves playing football. Today, after the first-team offense finished with their walk-through plays, Williams lined up at cornerback opposite wide receiver Ryan Grant and played a little defense for fun.
● Rookie safety Akeem Davis returned to practice after two days away because of the birth of his child. He had one of the better tackles during the special teams one-on-one tackling drill.
● Washington’s running backs as a whole struggled during the one-on-one pass protection drill with the inside linebackers. The back lines up opposite two linebackers and has to guess which is the blitzer and then has to stick him with a block and prevent him from getting past him and to the tackling dummy quarterback. Perry Riley ran right through Alfred Morris. Akeem Jordan trucked Roy Helu Jr. Evan Royster did get the best of Will Compton. Chris Thompson proved no contest for Darryl Sharpton, but Lache Seastrunk did fend off Jeremy Kimbrough. Darrel Young had a good initial block on Keenan Robinson, but the linebacker wound up getting free and to the dummy before the whistle blew.
● Coaches say that this drill can be a little deceiving because unlike an actual game situation where a pass-rusher has to contend with the line and also has other responsibilities, there are no linemen and the defender just comes free. If there’s a blitz up the middle, normally a back can pick up the blitz by plugging the hole in the line, using those big bodies to help. The blitzes off the edges present more of a problem, because some of the time, the blitzing defensive back or linebacker will come clean, unless he has gotten chipped by a tight end. But the drill, coaches say, is good because it gives the players a chance to work on their technique under the most challenging of circumstances. Coach Randy Jordan said that the Redskins’ backs do still have work to do, but that they’re making progress. Coach Jay Gruden said that he believes the Redskins did better at picking up the blitzes in the 11-on-11 portions of practice. Right now, Helu and Young look the best at picking up blitzes. Morris, Helu, Thompson and Young have looked solid as pass-catchers.
● With DeSean Jackson resting with some soreness in his legs, rookie wide receiver Ryan Grant saw some time with the first team here and there.
● Rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland intercepted a pass off of Kirk Cousins as he perfectly jumped the pass route and plucked the ball out of the air. Looked like he could’ve recorded a pick-six had the play been allowed to continue.
● Robert Griffin III looked sharp during the first round of 11-on-11 action in particular, connecting with Andre Roberts, Grant and Jordan Reed on quick strikes.
● Griffin got the crowd worked up when operating from the 10-yard-line. He rolled out to his right and looked for a target in the end zone. Finding none, Griffin slammed on the breaks as Riley went flying by, managing only to get a quick slap on Griffin’s shoulder. The quarterback then darted toward the end zone and beat safety Ryan Clark to the goal line for the score.
● Griffin also had a pretty touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon on a fade route from the five-yard line.
● The tandem of Keenan Robinson and Riley appears to have real promise. Today they teamed up for an interception of Griffin. The quarterback took the snap, faked the hand-off, quickly turned and fired the ball downfield. But Robinson got a hand up and tipped the pass into the air. Riley made a diving catch for the interception.
● Griffin had to use his legs to elude pass-rushers a couple of times as his line has struggled to hold off the blitz. The plays usually are blown dead once Griffin comes in contact with a defender. But he routinely continues with the play and locates a target for a pass. The quarterback said he feels like that helps his timing and chemistry with receivers so they’re used to having to react when he’s in a scramble situation.
● Trent Murphy looked good as he joined the first team defense and helped bolster the pass rush. On one time in particular, Griffin seemed a little spooked because the rookie pass-rusher didn’t look like he was going to slow down as he came in for a would-be sack.
● It wasn’t a good day for veteran place-kicker Kai Forbath, who made only two of four field goal attempts. Forbath made a 22-yarder, but then he missed a 34-yarder off the right upright, and then missed a 40-yarder off the left upright. Forbath finally made a 53-yarder. Zach Hocker made three field goals, from 35, 41 and 54 yards.
● Interesting thing about Hocker: Although the ball is placed at the same yard line as Forbath, he always has his holder move back a yard, tacking on an additional 18 yards to the distance rather than the usual 17.
Find previous days’ observations here. Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.
After a day off Sunday, the Redskins return to camp Monday morning for an 8:35 a.m. practice. They’ll be joined in Richmond by the New England Patriots. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.
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