Redskins training camp: Observations from Day 3

RICHMOND – Saturday represented Day 3 of training camp for the Washington Redskins, and their first practice in pads. That made for a spirited, physical practice as players finally got a chance to lay some licks on each other.

Wide receiver Lee Doss had the first big hit of the day. Practice began with a special teams drill, where Doss raced downfield as a gunner and trucked an opposing player.

Fellow wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss, who watched from the sideline, had a good laugh and hollered to the rookie.

“Wow, Doss!” Garcon called. “Wow!”

Moss said, “Man, special teams gonna be right this year,” and laughed again.

● Today marked the first one-on-one drills between offensive linemen and defensive linemen. The pass rushers appeared to have the edge today. Ryan Kerrigan bested Tyler Polumbus in their head-to-head matchups. Brandon Jenkins, on one play when going against Tom Compton, started to the outside then slipped to the inside and beat the block. Later, while going against Morgan Moses on the other side, Jenkins couldn’t get around the rookie tackle, and linebackers coach Brian Baker chastised Jenkins for missing an opportunity to go to his counter-move.

● The marquee matchup, of course, featured Pro Bowl players Brian Orakpo and Trent Williams. Williams appeared to get the better of Orakpo in their first matchup, keeping the linebacker from getting past him on a bull-rush attempt. Baker praised Orakpo’s execution, however, and Williams argued that it was him that had gotten the best of his opponent since Orakpo hadn’t gotten by him. Baker pointed to how far into the backfield (and path of the quarterback) Orakpo had moved Williams, though. On the next time around, Williams erased all doubt and bested Orakpo with a pancake block when the linebacker tried to dip underneath.

● Defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins won his battle with rookie Spencer Long. The Nebraska product needs to get a little stronger, as he couldn’t fend off Jenkins’s power rush.

● The running back picture remains far from defined behind starter Alfred Morris. Roy Helu Jr. continues to be the first man up after Morris. The past two days, competitor Evan Royster has had to watch while nursing a strained left hamstring. Royster suffered the injury early in yesterday’s practice and spent portions of today’s practice working with the trainers on a separate field. With Royster out, Chris Thompson received more opportunities behind Morris and Helu. The remainder of the pecking order featured Silas Redd and then Lache Seastrunk.

● Royster was frustrated by his injury because he knows he needs to compete. But at the same time, he knows he can’t rush back and risk another setback. The fourth-year pro has confidence that once healthy, and given the opportunity, he can make plays for this team. He points to his rookie year’s success (he started two games and averaged 5.9 yards per carry). He knows Morris is the workhorse, but he hopes that a new coaching staff means a chance to show he can help either while spelling Morris in the run game, or as a pass catcher. Royster hasn’t received many chances to help in the passing game, but he said he ran every route in the book while in college and knows he could for the Redskins as well.

● Left tackle Trent Williams rolled his ankle and missed a couple of plays while getting it taped, then came back to action.

● Robert Griffin III’s mother attended yesterday’s practice, and today she was joined by his father and one of his sisters. Jay Gruden’s wife and one of his sons attended today’s practice as well.

● Chase Minnifield has had a pretty quiet start to camp, but today he did make a play, separating Jerry Rice Jr. from the ball with a big hit just as the receiver tried to tuck the ball away.

● Rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland continues to work both on the outside and inside positions, and coaches are encouraged by the progress he’s making. Breeland most likely will only see action in situations where four cornerbacks need to be on the field at the same time. It’ll be hard for him to beat out veterans Tracy Porter and/or E.J. Biggers for the nickel back role. But based on what he’s showing them so far, coaches feel confident that Breeland will have a key role on defense next year.

● Griffin and DeSean Jackson are getting their timing down. Today, the quarterback took a snap, rolled to his right and hit Jackson for a 75-yard touchdown pass. Jackson was running free after fooling roster hopeful Courtney Bridget Jr. with a double move.

● Things remain a work in progress between quarterback and wide receiver, however. An example of this came today on a play that represented Griffin’s first interception of camp. With the ball around the 30-yard line, Griffin fired a pass to his right on a play where he was expecting to cut inside and in front of DeAngelo Hall. Jackson saw Hall playing toward the inside and broke off the route, unaware Griffin had let go of the ball. The two and coach Jay Gruden went over the play afterward to go over the scenario and how execute it if in the same situation again. During that talk, Gruden said after practice that he also informed Griffin that he too had a mental error on the play. Tight end Jordan Reed was the first read on the play, but the quarterback missed an opportunity to go to Reed – who was in fact open, according to the coach – and instead went to Jackson.

● Hall and Jackson’s matchup is always entertaining and the interception kept things interesting. Hall said the other day, Jay Gruden had talked in front of the group about how there “a lot of horses that can compete and make plays, and DJack was teasing me that Jay hadn’t mentioned my name.” Today, before practice, Hall brought a picture of a group of UFC greats posing with Lions. The quote on the picture was, “To become a lion, you have to train to be a lion.” Hall referred to himself as a lion as he responded to Jackson. A couple hours later, he was able to back up his talking.

● A number of Hall’s fellow defensive backs made plays today. Tracy Porter broke up a Kirk Cousins pass in the flat. Breeland later flew into the backfield and tackled Aldrick Robinson for no gain after a quick-hitter pass from Colt McCoy.

● Chris Baker continues to have a strong camp. Today, he beat Polumbus off the edge and tackled Garcon, who had just gotten the handoff on a reverse. (More on Baker in this blog post)

● Griffin’s best pass of the day might’ve come on the play where nickel back E.J. Biggers lined up opposite Andre Roberts in the slot to Griffin’s right, but Biggers came on a blitz. Seeing the heat coming, and recognizing that the safety had not yet picked up Roberts, Griffin zipped the ball to the receiver in stride for a big pickup.

● Griffin later had a near interception as he went to Santana Moss over the middle. Inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr. had coverage underneath and got two hands up, but the ball zipped through his hands. Moss got one hand on the ball, but couldn’t make the catch.

● Late in practice, Washington had its first scuffle of training camp as Compton and linebacker Darryl Sharpton got into it after a play, with both throwing punches. The two were quickly separated, and practice resumed without incident.

● Today featured more kicking competition. Zach Hocker made all three of his attempts at distances of 40, 41 and 44 yards. Kai Forbath made attempts of 40 and 41 yards and then missed an attempt from 49 yards out, wide right.

Find previous days’ observations here, and all blog posts from training camp here.

What’s ahead:

Washington’s second practice on Day 3 begins at 4:10 p.m. in Richmond. Here’s our camp guide.

Also from The Post:

Reid: McVay-Reed bond will pay dividends

Paul says Reed looks like a Pro Bowl tight end

Hall nears end of career, but is confident as ever

Observations from Day 2 of training camp | Photos

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

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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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Liz Clarke · July 26, 2014