RICHMOND – The Redskins are now on their 18th day of training camp, and you can definitely tell by the number of sidelined players.
Sunday, eight players – wide receiver DeSean Jackson, linebacker Brian Orakpo, running backs Silas Redd and Chris Thompson, safeties Phillip Thomas and Ryan Clark, linebacker Darryl Sharpton and tight end Jordan Reed – missed practice with various bumps and bruises.
Running back Roy Helu Jr. returned to action after nursing a mild knee sprain on Saturday. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon (hamstring) took part in individual drills, but he didn’t do team drills today. Jackson took part in the walk-through, but didn’t do anything else.
- The Redskins spent time working on their two-minute offense, and they had some struggles in execution. As Robert Griffin III put it, “We faced adversity today, a little bit out there.” An interception to Tracy Porter killed one two-minute drive led by Griffin. Kirk Cousins had two near-interceptions (Bashaud Breeland and Porter both dropped balls) while leading the second unit. And Colt McCoy was intercepted by Chase Minnifield while directing the third team.
- The interception by Porter was Griffin’s second of the day. Earlier in practice, during the first 11-on-11 session (not two-minute drill), Breeland picked off Griffin after the quarterback rolled out to his right and tried to gun a ball downfield to Aldrick Robinson along the sideline. Robinson had a slight step on Bryan Shepherd, but Breeland swooped in and picked off the pass. Breeland read the play-action fake, and since he had passed the receiver running a crossing route underneath off to safety Bacarri Rambo, he took the center of the field as his coverage area. “I saw the quarterback looking that way, and just came on over,” Breeland said with a grin.
- On the next play, Griffin fumbled a low shotgun snap from Kory Lichtensteiger.
- Later, Griffin had a better series, completing four of five pass attempts (the incompletion being a drop by Andre Roberts) to move his team into field goal range before spiking the ball on third down with four seconds left on the clock.
- The improved speed of Washington’s receiving unit should generate big plays this season, but it will also help in another area. The deep threats can create openings for receivers underneath. One example: Roberts lined up on the line, split out wide, and just behind him stood Santana Moss. (Already, a defensive back finds himself in a difficult situation because he has to make up his mind which he is going to cover.) At the snap, Roberts took off running a deep route. Then, Moss – with the deep route clearing things out for him – ran an underneath route, easily got open and made the catch. Because this play is slow to unfold, the quarterback must have protection, but if so, it’s effective.
- The threat of big plays deep also creates opportunities in the quick-hitter passing game. There were times Sunday where defensive backs appeared intent on guarding against getting beat deep, and instead, Griffin went to his receivers with quick passes for completions before the receivers had been picked up in coverage.
- Griffin said the Redskins know that defenses will play them differently every week, and it’s their goal to be able to attack regardless of the defense. They want to be able to dink and dunk their way downfield at a good, crisp rate, or be able to soften up a defense with the mid-range passing game and then strike deep.
- Roberts had a decent punt return in the preseason opener, but did appear tentative fielding the next punt. Today, he fumbled just after fielding one punt, and Shepherd recovered. Roberts is most likely Washington’s top threat in the punt return role, but it’s going to take a little bit for him to re-acclimate himself to this job. He hasn’t done it since early in his career. He did in college, however, so it’s a matter of knocking off rust.
- Bacarri Rambo got another day of first-team action with Ryan Clark still sidelined by his hamstring injury, and it appears that his confidence is growing. He had an aggressive hit on Helu, but also got into it a couple times with other offensive players after the end of the play. Most notably, Rambo and tight end Logan Paulsen briefly exchanged blows. Rambo popped Paulsen from behind as he broke up a catch, but then started jawing at the tight end. Paulsen was walking away, then stopped – not sure what was said – and came back to Rambo and the two engaged in a scuffle. The two were separated, and later the 6-foot, 211-pound Rambo started chirping again to the 6-5, 261-pound Paulsen after a play. Paulsen didn’t dignify Rambo with a response.
- With Jordan Reed still out, Paulsen emerged as Griffin’s favorite red zone target. Griffin went to Paulsen twice in a three-play span for touchdowns during goal-line drills.
- With Orakpo sidelined by a quad injury, Rob Jackson got the nod with the first team. He recorded one would-be sack.
- With Jackson still sidelined, Moss has gotten plenty of first-team work in the slot as Roberts slides to the outside. Moss appears to be as quick and sure-handed as ever. He had some struggles last year, but looks sharp this camp. When you think about how long he’s been playing football and see him still making plays – he’s 35 now, in his 14th NFL season, played four years of college ball, four high school, middle school and Pop Warner… what’s that, 23 years? – it’s pretty impressive.
- Chase Minnifield spoiled what would’ve been a good moment. He made a diving catch for an interception, jumped right up and punted the ball back upfield. Yeah, it’s just practice, but you want to see a young guy act more professionally. That would’ve drawn a penalty in a game.
- Lache Seastrunk again received more opportunities as a pass-catcher out of the backfield with Thompson and Redd sidelined. He made one tough catch on a screen, having to reach for a high throw and snag the ball with one hand before showing good acceleration and weaving through traffic. Toward the end of practice, he caught a dump-off pass near the end zone and then put a move on one defender and dived to reach the ball across the goal line to beat another.
- Rookie tight end Ted Bolser had a late-practice bright spot, catching a touchdown pass from McCoy on a fade route. Backup inside linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough (5-10, 231) was at a significant disadvantage versus the 6-5, 249-pound Bolser, but was tight in coverage. McCoy put the ball perfectly over Bolser’s shoulder, however, and Kimbrough had no chance to break up the pass.