Four things to watch as Redskins get back to practice Saturday


Defensive end Jason Hatcher is expected to practice soon after spending the first two weeks of camp limited to individual drills. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — Washington’s 23-6 victory over New England in both teams’ preseason opener wasn’t even an hour old when Redskins Coach Jay Gruden noted that it was time to put the feel-good outcome behind him and move on. And after getting Friday off to rest, the the Redskins return to the practice fields Saturday in Richmond.

The final four-day stretch that will conclude training camp gets underway with one practice session Saturday beginning at 2:15 p.m. The Redskins then practice Sunday at 8:35 a.m., with a walk-through at 4:10 p.m. The team will follow the game practice schedule on Monday.

All of the sessions on Saturday, Sunday and Monday are open to the public.

The Redskins will then include camp with a closed session Tuesday morning.

As the squad gets back to work, here are four things we’ll be watching:

A Jason Hatcher sighting? [Update, 2:40 p.m.: The Redskins activated Hatcher from the physically-unable-to-perform list, clearing him for practice.] The 6-foot-6, 299-pound defensive end was the splashy free agent acquisition on defense during the offseason, brought in from Dallas, where he recorded 11 sacks, to help shore up an anemic pass rush. After undergoing knee surgery in June, he has spent the first two weeks of camp working alone on a smaller field reserve for drills.

He’s expected to join practice soon — if not Saturday, then Sunday or Monday. Even without his services, Jim Haslett’s defense did a fine job pressuring New England’s Ryan Mallett on Thursday. Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo set the tone by dropping Tom Brady’s rarely used backup for a five-yard loss in the Patriots’ opening series. Mallet finished the half with sub-par numbers, completing 5 of 12 passes for 55 yards, earning a 55.9 passer rating.

Amped-up passing plays for Robert Griffin III: Washington’s starters played just one series against New England. It consisted of 10 snaps, and Gruden leaned heavily on running back Alfred Morris’s proven power on the ground, calling his number for four of the first five plays.

Griffin’s body of work was limited. Too limited, in fact, to shed much light on the third-year quarterback’s comfort level in Gruden’s passing game. Griffin completed 2 of 4 throws for nine yards. The first incompletion, to Morris, flirted with an interception. The second, a potential touchdown throw to Aldrick Robinson in the end zone, was reeled in but ruled incomplete when Robinson put a hand down out of bounds before his feet landed solidly inbounds.

Gruden and Griffin have said they expect to ramp up the passing game going forward.

A return of starting wide receivers? Neither Pierre Garcon (hamstring) nor DeSean Jackson (ankle) took part in Thursday’s game. Though Griffin and Garcon have a well-established rapport, the quarterback could use as much time as he can get working with Jackson. In the early going of camp, Gruden noted how tricky it was to gauge the timing and precision of throws to Jackson, given the receiver’s eye-popping speed and, at times, “too cool for school” routes.

The absence of Garcon and Jackson, along with the very limited roles of veteran wide receiver Santana Moss and second-year tight end Jordan Reed — both “go-to’s” for Griffin, but neither of whom had a reception Thursday — meant lots of time in the spotlight for the backups that Gruden most wants to evaluate under game-day pressure. Making the most of their minutes were Robinson (three catches, 45 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown throw from Kirk Cousins) and Ryan Grant (three catches, 37 yards).

Kicker competition part II: Kai Forbath is the incumbent, entering his third NFL season. While that made him the presumptive starter at the outset of camp, the Redskins didn’t spend a seventh-round draft pick on Zach Hocker for nothing.

Hocker clearly won the first major test, making both field goal attempts (27, 39) in Thursday’s game, delivering solid kickoffs and adding a tackle on special teams for good measure.

Forbath was shakier under the lights, sending one kickoff out of bounds, missing a 46-yard field goal and making his first attempt only because a Washington penalty forced a redo of an effort that clanged off an upright.

Gruden insists the job remains wide open. How will Forbath respond?

Mike Jones contributed to this report.

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.

Also from The Post:

Several Redskins newcomers grabbed spotlight in preseason opener

Manziel set to make preseason debut Saturday night

Seastrunk and Redd thrust themselves into competition at running back

Gruden expects kicking competition to last all preseason

D.C. Sports Bog: We’re in the golden age of Redskins preseason football

Redskins vs. Patriots: Five observations | Photos

More NFL: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats | Fantasy

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post, she has also covered five Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.
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