The Washington Redskins are ready for their preseason opener. Well, maybe they need more preparation. But player say that they are tired of going against each other, and really would like to go head-to-head with an actual opponent.
The fatigue that players say they’re suffering from with be replaced by that game-day adrenalin rush. And then, we’ll get to see the fruits of the Redskins’ labor.
But, another day of practice, followed by a walk-through day still remain. Here are some observations from Monday’s practice.
● Robert Griffin III took the podium after practice to discuss his progress and expectations for Thursday’s game. We’ve been watching his reaction time, which has seemed a little slow. But the quarterback dismissed any concerns, saying that he has indeed been holding onto the ball longer just because he knows he isn’t going to get hit, and because he views every read and right throw in practice as important. But, once the games begin, the quarterback expects things to open up for him. He says sometimes he doesn’t take off and run because the defensive players are staying at bay because they know what plays are coming. We haven’t seen him go deep much, but Griffin said that’s because the defensive backs – knowing the plays – have taken away the options over the top. It’ll be interesting to see how things change when everything is full-speed against an unfamiliar opponent Thursday.
●Chris Chester went down with a left ankle injury in today’s practice, and Coach Mike Shanahan said, “You’re just hoping that it’s mild and it’s not too serious.” The Redskins certainly are hoping so, because if Chester misses significant time, that will make three starting offensive lineman that the Redskins will be missing. It could making the going tough for Griffin on Thursday, but a lack of playing time as a unit during preseason could translate into a slow start during the regular season once – or if – the starters get back together. Griffin has done a good bit of running during practices, and he says he doesn’t plan on doing a lot of it during the preseason, but I’m not sure he’ll have a choice.
●Now we may get to see more of Adam Gettis, the Redskins’ fifth-round pick out of Iowa. Until now, Gettis has worked with the second team, but he stepped in with the first team when Chester went down. Gettis has actually showed improvement in one-on-one drills. He told me that he’s beginning to become more comfortable in the system and more sure of his technique: remembering to keep his hands inside and get good foot placement. Although his team lacks veteran backups, Mike Shanahan believes that Gettis is an addition that has improved the depth of the line. It’ll be interesting to see how far Gettis has come this offseason, or how far off he is right now.
● I haven’t written a lot about Jordan Bernstine – Gettis’s former Iowa teammate, whom the Redskins drafted in the seventh round – but Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris thinks highly of him. Morris said today that Bernstine is learning both free and strong safety, but is handling the heavy load well. Bernstine has good athleticism and range, but carries himself with a good deal of confidence. He has a number of veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, but definitely can force his way into the mix with some strong play this preseason.
● Josh Morgan returned to the field today, and took part in team drills. He will be looking to make up for lost time after sitting out five days of practice with a hamstring injury. Everything can change come game time, but for now, Morgan is listed third on the depth chart behind Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson. Pierre Garçon, Moss and Hankerson have worked the most extensively with the first team, and all three have put up solid showings.
● Blitz pickups will be interesting to watch on Thursday. Today in one-on-ones, not a single running back did very well. That drill – in which a back lines up and has to pick up the linebacker, who is coming untouched with no line in place – isn’t quite the same as the actual game situation, and the defensive players have the advantage. But the running backs and fullbacks have to do better than what they did today. Neither Tim Hightower, Roy Helu or Evan Royster did particularly well today. And Dorson Boyce struggled mightily. Alfred Morris had mixed results, as did Lennon Creer.