Redskins training camp: Observations from Day 19

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Jay Gruden watches quarterback Robert Griffin III as he prepares to throw during an earlier practice in Richmond. (Alex Brandon/AP)

RICHMOND – Another practice in the books for Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins. That’s 15 down, one to go.

Jay Gruden said on Sunday that the two-minute offense needed work. He was frustrated with poor and/or inconsistent execution. Monday, the Redskins displayed improvement. The session wasn’t close to perfect. But it was better.

I took a more detailed look at Robert Griffin III’s improvements at running the no-huddle attack earlier today. But in general, he did a better job of getting the ball out of his hands, and taking what the defense gave to him.

Griffin threw away the ball quickly when he couldn’t find an opening, rather than holding onto it and trying to find something downfield. With the big play taken away, he went to tight end Logan Paulsen three straight plays underneath. He went with quick-hitters, out routes, screens and slants. Sean McVay was calling plays and set the quarterback up nicely, and Griffin executed.

He had one bad throw in the two-minute drill. He appeared to overthrow a receiver, but Brandon Meriweather swooped in and made what looked like an interception along the left sideline. But Gruden, who served as the official, said from his view across the field, it looked like Meriweather didn’t get two feet down.

“Well, they didn’t go to the replay booth, so it must not have been an interception,” Gruden joked.

Griffin responded by stringing together the three consecutive mid-range passes to Paulsen and then a completion to Santana Moss for eight yards. Griffin tried to go to Paulsen again down the center of the field, but the pass zipped through his hands at the goal line. Griffin then completed a slant pass to Aldrick Robinson for the touchdown.

Griffin’s quicker pace accomplished a couple of things. It kept the offense moving because the defense didn’t have time to pick up receivers in coverage before the ball was out. And it also helped the offensive line, because Griffin was getting rid of the ball before pass-rushers had enough time to get into the backfield.

Gruden, McVay and Griffin all were encouraged by the signs of progress, but the Redskins still have a young quarterback working to establish himself as a true pro-style quarterback.

“It’s tough,” Griffin said. “I expect a lot out of myself, Jay expects a lot out of me, Sean expects a lot out of me, this organization expects a lot out of me, my team expects a lot out of me and it’s something I’ll always have to deal with. It’s not necessarily about patience, but it’s just knowing that great things are coming. No one works harder than I do in that film room or those things at any position, but that’s not a knock at anyone else. I know Trent’s working his tail off, Alfred, Pierre, DeSean, and that’s the great thing. We’re all working hard together to go in the same direction. I’m not going to lose that for anybody or try to my job is to be the leader for this team, to help us when Super Bowls. That’s our goal, and we’re going to get it done.”

  • There was a little chatter out of Boston about Kirk Cousins looking better in practice against the Patriots than did Griffin. Here’s what I’ll say: ESPN’s Mike Reiss is a quality journalist and person. He wouldn’t just spit something out to stir something up. He simply shared what he observed from two days of practice and said that some people in the Patriots organization agreed. That being said, you’ve got to take a couple of things into account. It was two days. Not a full camp body of work. There have been days when Griffin looks good, and days he looks shaky. There have been days where Cousins looks good, and days he looks shaky. From what I’ve seen in 15 practice sessions, there hasn’t been a question as to who’s the better quarterback. Also, as several coaches pointed out, Cousins was going against the second unit, and Griffin was going against the Patriots’ starting defense, including Pro Bowl cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. But, I will say that most days in practice, the gap isn’t as big as you’d like to see between your No. 2 overall pick and a fourth-round pick. Griffin does make some plays – particularly when things break down – that very few quarterbacks can make. But when it’s a drop-back passing situation where the play takes longer to unfold and he has to recognize coverage while feeling the pressure, he hasn’t looked exceptional. He looks okay at times, good other times, and then he makes some bad throws other times. Uneven is the best way to describe it. Cousins also has had his struggles. He gets rid of the ball more quickly, but he also makes some unwise throws. He turns the ball over a lot, and in my opinion hasn’t even looked as sharp as he did last year. He too has been uneven.
  • Speaking of Cousins, he got off to a slow start in the two-minute offense Monday, going 1-for-5 to start his drive. Gruden had the second unit remain on the field and keep playing, and Cousins did better, completing his sixth and seventh pass attempts to put Washington in field goal range. Kai Forbath made a 52-yarder to conclude the series. Earlier in practice, however, Cousins connected with Ryan Grant on a 70-yard bomb.
  • Rewinding a little bit: Here are the players who sat out Monday: Jordan Reed (stomach virus), running back Chris Thompson (ankle), linebacker Darryl Sharpton (ankle), Phillip Thomas (hamstring), linebacker Gabe Miller (ankle/foot).
  • Reed planned on practicing today, Jay Gruden said, but he threw up again as soon as he got to the facility, and had to go back to the team hotel.
  • DeAngelo Hall took part in individual drills after bruising his back on Sunday. Safety Ryan Clark returned in a limited capacity. Receiver DeSean Jackson returned to full practice capacity after missing time with an ankle injury. Linebacker Brian Orakpo returned to action after missing yesterday to rest a bruised thigh.
  • Kory Lichtensteiger is the starting center, and Mike McGlynn has served as his backup. But coaches also have guards Chris Chester, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long and Josh LeRibeus practicing snapping the ball to quarterbacks prior to the start of individual and positional drills.
  • LeRibeus and Long today switched places. Since the start of camp, they had lined up with LeRibeus at left guard and Long at right guard. But offensive line coach Chris Foerster wants them to be able to play both positions, so today, they flip-flopped, and likely will continue to do so each week.
  • The running backs, fullbacks and linebackers went head-to-head in passing drills, and from a route-running and pass-catching perspective, Darrel Young did the best as he turned inside linebacker Will Compton around and made a catch over his shoulder for a touchdown. Inside linebacker Keenan Robinson did a nice job in coverage on Evan Royster, riding his left hip, and then when Royster cut to the right, Robinson slipped to the inside, getting good position and swatting the ball down with his right hand.
  • The most impressive play of the whole drill came from running backs coach Randy Jordan. The former Raiders back lined up across Adam Hayward for fun and crossed Hayward over so badly that the linebacker slipped and fell. Running backs jumped up and down, whooping and hollering, and linebackers tried to suppress their chuckles as they helped their fallen teammate up. Hayward couldn’t help but laugh, either.
  • While Griffin did have some nice plays in the two-minute drill, he struggled early on in practice. During the first 11-on-11 portion of practice, he had a badly thrown, wobbly pass that looked like it maybe was intended for Andre Roberts along the right sideline. But the ball died and also was headed more to the inside. Roberts tried to cut over to his left to track the ball. But Bacarri Rambo was back there and plucked the ball out of the air before the receiver could contest the throw.
  • Kedric Golston continues to have a solid camp as he battles for a spot in the defensive line rotation. Today, he drew praise from coach Brian Baker during one-on-one pass-rushing/protection drills as he shot off the line working on LeRibeus’ outside shoulder and then slipped to the inside, got by the guard and to the spot where the quarterback would’ve been.
  • Long did a good job in this situation while trying to fend off nose tackle Robert Thomas. Thomas also started to the outside and slid to the inside. But Long moved quickly to remain in front of his opponent and held him at bay.
  • Forbath and Zach Hocker saw a lot of action. Both attempted seven field goals; both made six. Hocker missed a 36-yard attempt off the right upright. Forbath missed his try from 51 yards out off the left upright. Both concluded this segment by drilling 55-yard kicks.
  • Every day before practice, Alfred Morris meets Randy Jordan on a side field and has him throw passes to him as he aims to continue to evolve and prepare to take on a large role in the passing game. We’ve seen Morris remain on the field on passing downs more than he did last season. Today, one of his nicest plays came on a swing pass he caught from Griffin and turned into a nine-yard gain.
  • Aldrick Robinson continues to make the most of his opportunities and prove himself capable of doing more than run the deep route. Today, he motioned into the backfield, caught a screen pass and then turned it into a 15-yard gain.
  • One of Griffin’s best plays of the day – if not the best – came from the 5-yard line when he took the snap, faked the handoff to Roy Helu Jr. and rolled right. Brian Orakpo was breathing down Griffin’s neck, but the quarterback remained out of reach. As he neared the sideline, Griffin whipped the ball back across his body to the back of the end zone, where DeSean Jackson stood, wide open, and made an easy grab for the touchdown.
  • Rookie corner Bashaud Breeland had a pass breakup and near interception off of Cousins during throw during the two-minute drill intended for Rashad Lawrence. Richard Crawford (one of Breeland’s top competitors) also made some noise with a nice pass breakup on a comeback route intended for Lawrence.
  • Washington, following this evening’s walk-through, holds one final on-field session in Richmond. But that practice, scheduled for 8:35 a.m. Tuesday, is closed to the public.

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 have a walk-through Monday afternoon at 4:10 and one more practice in Richmond Tuesday morning. That one is NOT open to the public.

Also from The Post:

Reid: Santana Moss’s role is expanding and contracting

Redskins expected to rally around healthy Jason Hatcher

Ryan Clark hopes to return for Browns game

DeAngelo Hall feeling ’100 percent better’

DeSean Jackson expects to play Monday night

Da’mon Cromartie-Smith’s whirlwind 48 hours

Hall bruises back, expected to return soon

Williams, Hall, Hayward named preseason captains

Gruden: Thompson and Thomas need to get healthy again

Hankerson will meet soon with Dr. Andrews

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