Redskins training camp: Observations from Day 12

August 4, 2014

RICHMOND – The Washington Redskins and the New England Patriots had their first joint practice today, and judging by the looks of things, the presence of the visitors helped the Redskins ramp things back up a notch after a day off, and a more moderate intensity level on Saturday.

What exactly does a joint practice look like?

The teams hit the field and went through their stretching segments on their own. Washington did theirs on one field, and the Patriots on another. Then the two units came together for special teams drills to kick off the actual practice. New England’s kickoff unit faced Washington’s kick return team for eight kickoffs. Then, the Redskins’ kickoff unit faced the Patriots’ kick return team.

After the special teams segment, the teams broke for individual drills, with Washington working on one field, and the Patriots on another. The teams spent a shorter amount of time on position drills than the Redskins normally do.

The teams came together again for one-on-one wide receiver versus cornerback drills. Griffin and Kirk Cousins took turns throwing to their receivers versus New England’s defenders while on the other field, Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett threw to their wideouts against Washington’s defensive backs.

Normally, this is a time when the offensive line and defensive lines go against one another. But today, this was a run-play segment for the offensive and defensive lines and the backs. Washington’s first-team line faced off with New England’s defensive front seven, and it was Colt McCoy taking snaps and handing off to the running backs. The second and third-string lines and backs would rotate in and out. The same thing took place on the opposite field with Patriots’ third-string quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo running his group’s run plays against Washington’s starting line front seven.

Next came the first 11-on-11, segment with the Redskins offense versus the Patriots defense on one field, and Washington’s defense matched up with New England’s offense on the next field. A special teams segment, 7-on-7 and more 11-on-11 action followed, and then one more segment that featured Washington’s place kickers on field goals.

It was a lot to take in with 180 guys running around on two fields, but Post intern Isabelle Khurshudyan chipped in to make sure we had both fields covered.

Here are some of the highs and lows that we took in today:

● Darrelle Revis and DeSean Jackson have had some quality matchups in years past. Today, they met again, with Revis appearing to get the better of Jackson. Griffin and Jackson couldn’t connect on any big plays as they have each day. Griffin connected with Jackson on a comeback route, but Revis had the wide receiver blanketed on deep routes. Griffin took only one downfield shot at Jackson, and that was a wobbly pass that sailed out of bounds. Revis and Jackson ran stride-for-stride on that play. Jackson got maybe half a step on the cornerback, but couldn’t get to the ball, and it’s hard to say if he would’ve managed to catch it even if the throw had been in bounds.

● At the start of the team drills, it seemed as if Griffin had started getting rid of the ball more quickly than on other days. Later, the pace slogged down a bit with the Patriots doing a good job of taking away his deep options, and the line struggling to hold off the rush.

● Center Kory Lichtensteiger didn’t do poorly in his matchups with Vince Wilfork, but there were some struggles out of Tyler Polumbus and Chris Chester. Shawn Lauvao had an up-and-down day. Trent Williams looked like his typical reliable self versus Donta Hightower.

● Griffin struggled to find comfort in the pocket. The differences in Washington’s line play and that of New England’s was noticeable. Brady has a clearly defined pocket to step up into. He has trust in his line. He doesn’t even appear to notice the rush as he looks downfield, steps up and delivers a throw. Griffin, meanwhile, had a shaky (at best) pocket to operate from today, and protection broke down frequently. I think Brady may have had one play that would have been a sack (Ryan Kerrigan, Chris Baker and Brian Orakpo had collapsed the pocket around Brady). Griffin had at least four.

● Griffin had one interception on the day while going for tight end Jordan Reed, who fell down on the play.

● Washington’s offensive line did look pretty solid in run blocking, however.

● Brady also gets the ball out quickly. After 14 years in the league, he knows what’s coming, where he’s going with the ball, and makes quick, precise decisions. More times than not, he was getting rid of the ball before Washington’s pass rushers had a chance to even swipe at him.

● Brady and wide receiver Julian Edelman operated with midseason efficiency. It was already challenging enough for Washington’s defense because the Patriots ran an uptempo, no-huddle attack. But the quarterback and his slot receiver are synced up nicely. Brady would get Edelman the ball before a cornerback, safety or linebacker had a chance to even pick him up in pass coverage.

● Edelman gave everyone from David Amerson to DeAngelo Hall to Brandon Meriweather to Kerrigan fits in pass coverage today.

● Interesting to note that Tom Brady tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2008 and is still wearing his knee brace even though he’s not a mobile guy. Griffin, meanwhile, has opted against wearing a brace now that he is two years removed from knee-ligament surgery.

● The Patriots’ pace and precision made Washington’s secondary look slow. It’ll be interesting to see how they do by Thursday, when they’ve gotten a feel for how New England operates.

● Inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr. said that he and his teammates struggled early on against the Patriots because unlike a real game situation, Washington hadn’t scouted their opponent. The Patriots did a good job of sucking in the Redskins inside linebackers and then striking quickly to running backs or tight ends with them out of position. Riley did point to a three-and-out recorded by the defense late in practice as a sign of progress.

● Bacarri Rambo’s bright spots have been few and far between, and it looked as if the safety would have another rough day when Ryan Mallett burned him deep on a touchdown to wideout Josh Boyce. But Rambo later came up with an interception – a juggling catch – and then had two pass breakups later still. Rambo narrowly missed a second interception on one of those pass breakups.

● It was a rough day for cornerback Tracy Porter, who got burned by Mallett while covering Boyce. Porter got turned around on the play. Porter later got burned by Brady on a pass to wide receiver Brandon LaFell. Porter is hoping to make this team as the third or fourth cornerback, but he’ll need better showings than this. Two of Porter’s competitors – rookie Bashaud Breeland and third-year pro Richard Crawford – recorded pass breakups today.

● Wide receiver Aldrick Robinson scored on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins while facing New England’s second-team defense. Robinson beat cornerback Logan Ryan and another defender before making the catch.

● Ryan Grant continues to have a solid camp. The rookie wide receiver has a knack for getting open. He had a nice pickup on a crossing route, and later did a good job of fighting off press coverage from Justin Green and then came back to the ball for the reception. Grant later made a impressive catch on a throw behind him. The Tulane product lined up both on the outside and in the slot today. Of all of the rookies at any position, Grant has seemed to be the most consistent.


Nick Williams (13) runs past a group of New England Patriots during a joint team practice in Richmond. (Jay Paul/Associated Press)

● Here’s a look at who Ben Kotwica trotted out for his first-team kick return unit, which could give some insight as to the roles that some bubble guys can carve out for themselves: Safety Trenton Robinson, linebacker Darryl Sharpton, running back Roy Helu Jr., linebacker Will Compton, Breeland, linebacker Adam Hayward, tight end Niles Paul, fullback Darrel Young, tight end Logan Paulsen, defensive end Kedric Golston with wide receiver Andre Roberts as the returner.

● Paul has been a staple on the kick return units, either as an up back or a return man. But Kotwica has him lined up as the blocker the center of the second line flanked by Hayward and Young.

● Speaking of special teams, Keith Burns, who was fired as special teams coordinator after one season with Washington, was here today. He’s doing a coaching fellowship with the Patriots.

● The first kickoff coverage unit looked like this: Cornerback E.J. Biggers, Breeland, Paul, Hayward, linebacker Akeem Jordan, Compton, Trenton Robinson, safety Brandon Meriweather, Helu and place kicker Zach Hocker, although he and Forbath alternated.

● McCoy got some action running the second-team offense during 11-on-11 action today.

● Forbath and Hocker went head-to-head on field goals today. Forbath rebounded from Saturday’s rough outing and made all four attempts (distances of 30, 34, 43 and 47 yards). Hocker made three of four attempts (35, 47 and 50) and missed a 38-yard attempt wide left.

● Overall, the Redskins players felt good about the work they got in, and welcomed the chance to face different competition. If they used today as a measuring stick, they’d probably agree that they have a ways to go. It was pretty clear which team went 12-4 last season. But it’ll be interesting to see what improvements the Redskins make tomorrow as they face the Patriots for a second straight day.

● The Redskins have a walk-through this afternoon at 4:10 p.m. and then practice tomorrow at 1:35 p.m.

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

The Redskins’ second joint practice with the New England Patriots on Monday is at 4:10 p.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Griffin says offense okay despite rough practice

Brady exposes weaknesses in Redskins’ defense

Eagles’ Williams doesn’t like joint practices or Patriots

Reid: Redskins could learn at lot from New England

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Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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