RICHMOND — With the camp-opening kinks worked out on Thursday, the Washington Redskins had an improved practice Friday and expressed encouragement over the progress they made.
“I think it was a lot more efficient for us,” quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “We were a better team today than we were yesterday, and that’s what we want. Yesterday, with the rain, first day back, we were a little sloppy. … But guys came out with a better attitude today — not that yesterday was bad. But, we got our bike taken away from us by the defense. I told the guys, ‘We’ve got to go get our bike back.’ ”
Griffin, after having what Jay Gruden described as an “erratic” practice on Thursday, had more zip and precision on his passes. He did particularly well in the mid-range passing game, connecting with his tight ends and wide receivers consistently.
Griffin went 7 for 8 during the seven-on-seven portion of practice with the lone incompletion coming on a dropped ball.
The quarterback said after watching video with his coaches, he focused on improving his footwork Friday, and that all of the offensive players paid greater attention to detail.
“Being able to rebound from yesterday offensively [boosts confidence],” Griffin said. “Although the field conditions were better today, I felt like mentally, we were more sharp, and everyone was taking care of what they have to take care of for us to be successful.”
Here are some observations from Friday’s practice:
● With weather conditions greatly improved, Washington had a much better fan turnout. Among those in attendance were 100 high school coaches, as the team hosted its annual high school coaches clinic. The men watched practice from the back of one of the end zones, and afterward had lunch and went through a brief seminar conducted by former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, who flew in for the event. He watched practice with general manager Bruce Allen prior to proceeding to the nearby Science Museum of Virginia, where the lunch and seminar took place.
● Jay Gruden has preached the importance of strong fundamentals, and the coaching staff places a high priority on practicing proper techniques. Each day, following the stretching and special teams segments, practice proceeds to a block of time dedicated to position-specific drills — running backs guarding against stripped balls, edge rushers using their hands, pass-catchers improving footwork by weaving through cones and making catches, linemen keying on blocks. The Shanahan staff did positional drills as well, but there seems to be a greater emphasis and more in-depth instruction on — and more time devoted to — these areas.
● Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo had a hot spurt in practice, getting into the backfield twice during a three-play span, and registering what would’ve been a pair of sacks had contact been permitted. On another play shortly after, defensive end Chris Baker got into the backfield and flushed Griffin out of the pocket.
● Baker got into the backfield later as he got a step on Tyler Polumbus and almost got a hand on Griffin. But the quarterback slid to his left and quickly fired a strike upfield to tight end Logan Paulsen.
● Inside linebacker Keenan Robinson appeared to have a better day in pass coverage, and recorded an interception during a one-on-one drill while matched up with Roy Helu Jr.
● Second-year running back Chris Thompson is vying for the third-down back role and appeared to have a strong practice, particularly in the pass-catching department. Thompson flashed his quickness as he eluded linebacker Darryl Sharpton at the line. Sharpton actually grabbed Thompson as he darted by, but the running back got free, created some space and made a nice catch. Thompson later had a nice pickup on a screen pass from Griffin during 11-on-11 drills.
● Rookie Lache Seastrunk — one of Thompson’s competitors — didn’t have much experience as a pass-catcher while at Baylor, but he appears to be comfortable in this capacity for the Redskins. Seastrunk during one play in one-on-one drills made a juggling catch with linebacker Will Compton draped over him.
● David Amerson had a couple of bright spots while in coverage on Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts. The Redskins’ coaches believe the former second-round pick is ready to take over as the starting cornerback opposite DeAngelo Hall, and thus far, he has fared well.
● DeSean Jackson again showed off his speed while running an end around. But what proved even more impressive on the same play was the quickness of left tackle Trent Williams, as the 6-foot-5, 337-pounder got off the line as a lead blocker and took out a defensive back in pursuit.
● Players continued to rotate as they compete for the top nickel back role in the secondary. E.J. Biggers saw some time in this capacity on the first team, as he has other times. But Richard Crawford also saw some time with the starting defense at that spot.
● With Perry Riley Jr. firmly entrenched at the ‘jack’ linebacker spot, and Robinson in line to start at the ‘mike’ position, Adam Hayward, Akeem Jordan, Sharpton and Compton are competing for backup duties. Friday, it was Jordan and Compton who played with the second team, a day after Sharpton and Hayward saw time there.
● Wide receiver Ryan Grant got the best of fellow rookie Bashaud Breeland during one matchup on Thursday, but on Friday, Breeland turned the tables as the cornerback made a diving pass deflection to deny Grant.
● Breeland had seen time primarily inside, but today also played one of the outside cornerback positions as he continues his education process.
● We saw our first head-to-head competition for field goal duties Friday. Kai Forbath made all four of his attempts at distances of 35, 35, 43 and 45 yards. Meanwhile, rookie Zach Hocker received three attempts — distances of 38, 40 and 45 yards — and made all three.
● Wide receiver Rashad Ross appeared to have one of the highlights of practice when he caught a bomb from Colt McCoy and had a step on cornerback Peyton Thompson and nothing but 15 yards between himself and the end zone. But Thompson swatted Ross on the back hard, and Ross fumbled the ball into the end zone. Thompson scooped up the ball and returned it back upfield before the play was blown dead.
More from the Post: