RICHMOND — One thing has stood out about Jay Gruden just three days into training camp: He’s a firm believer in teaching strong fundamentals and a physical style of football.
Today marked the first day in pads for the Redskins, but even back in the offseason, Gruden talked about the importance of having a physical football team.
Players say that the camp schedule they received includes more full-pad practices than in years past. Mike Shanahan usually had a couple of pad practices during camp, but more times than not just went with shells (light-weight shoulder pads) and helmets, which resulted in light contact practices.
Shanahan opted against a bunch of full-contact practices because he wanted to keep his players fresh. But the players say that they welcome the change, and that Gruden’s message of physicality is sinking in. Wearing pads helps. You can’t develop your physicality if you’re not adequately equipped.
“It’s just a mindset thing, a mind-state of the coach, what he prefers,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “So, maybe just putting on the pads everyday will instill a little bit more physicality into the practices. I feel like there’s a lot of competition. … That breeds competition and that breeds intensity in practice. So, I think guys are flying around and playing very physical.”
Asked about his plans for the full-pad practices, Gruden said he planned to practice two more consecutive days in pads. Tuesday is already a scheduled day off for the players, and then they will return to work on Wednesday. Gruden said depending on the health of the players, they could strap the pads right back on again and have another run of contact practices.
Explaining his philosophy on practicing in pads rather than going with less contact, Gruden said, “I don’t know, I just like the competition. I think it’s best for the defense to give the offense the best look possible and vice versa, and we can’t do that if we’re just muddling around, playing buddy football. It’s very important to get a look at your scheme, you’ve got to have people flying around and coached up and having good pad level. Fundamentals in football come with good pad level, and if you don’t have good pad level, you’re not teaching good fundamentals. And if you have good pad level, it’s being physical. Low man wins. If you have good competition, you’re being physical.”
Gruden added, “It’s very important for the line of scrimmage — it’s my belief that the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively — is the most important phases of football. You protect your quarterback, you can open up running lanes, or you get after the quarterback and you stop the run, you’re going to win more times than you lose, and that’s a fact.”
Washington’s second practice on Day 3 began at 4:10 p.m. in Richmond. Here’s our camp guide.
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