RICHMOND – The Washington Redskins this morning hold one closed practice and then will break camp and head back to Ashburn, where over the next three weeks they will continue their preparations for the 2014 regular season.
Coach Jay Gruden expressed encouragement over all that his coaches and players have accomplished in the last 20 days. And he said he enjoyed his first preseason as an NFL head coach.
Gruden also praised the team’s hosting city of Richmond, and the two-year-old Bon Secours training facility, where camp is held.
“It was great. I thought it was great,” Gruden said. “From the hotel to the facility here, we have everything we need. It’s been first class, the fans have been great. … But overall, it’s been a very smooth process and one thing that I wanted for our football team was the best situation for them to get better and there’s really no excuse. We’ve had no excuses – weather-wise, facility-wise – that they can’t get better. They’ve got their great rehab facility here, so very smooth and very happy with the whole stay in Richmond.”
Continuing with his list of takeaways from camp, Gruden said, “I’m most happy with the way these guys have come together and played together and bought into how fast we practice and just the group in general – how well they are playing together and communicating with one another. They’ve all been on time. We’ve had no disciplinary things we’ve had to go through, no extracurricular fights that we’ve had to discipline people, kick people out of practice. So, it’s been really a pleasant surprise with how professional they’ve all been and how they’re coming in here with the willingness to learn and get better every day and that’s half the battle. If they’re coming in here knowing that they have got to get better and work hard, then we have a chance.”
But the completion of camp doesn’t mean that the Redskins’ work is complete. Gruden will give his players Wednesday off, and then they will get back to work Thursday and begin preparations for their second preseason game, which takes place Monday night at FedEx Field against Cleveland. Two more preseason games follow (Aug. 23 at Baltimore, and Aug. 28 at Tampa Bay). With the players well-versed in the playbook at this point, Gruden hopes to see them capitalize on the playing time they receive in the coming games while also continuing to work hard in practice as they vie for jobs and roster spots.
“We have three preseason games left and we’ve tried to install most of our system right now so we’re not killing them mentally and adding a bunch of new stuff,” Gruden said. “So now we’re trying to let them go out and play and play fast and keep it nice and basic for them so they can go and they know what to do and they can perform at their highest levels. They really shouldn’t have any excuses as far as ‘I don’t know where to line up, I don’t know what to do on this play.’ They should all know what to do and they should be able to play fast. So we’ll give them the best opportunity they can to show what they have Game 2, 3 and 4 in the preseason and the rest of the practices. It’s not just about the games. It’s about what they do in practice on a consistent basis, and the evaluation process is ongoing and we just have to make the best decision we can.”