Mike Jones offers his top three takeaways from Day 10 at Redskins training camp in Richmond.
1. Lighter practice: The Redskins don’t game plan for what they’ll see from opponents in their first preseason game, but their coaches do script their own plays and how they’ll execute Thursday night versus Baltimore. The emphasis of Thursday’s practice was to put such plans in place, and so right after stretching, the team went into 11-on-11 drills rather than position and one-on-one drills.
With the game only two days away, the tempo was a bit slower, and the defense didn’t throw as fierce a rush at quarterback Kirk Cousins. Although the Redskins worked through their entire script and worked their way up and down the field, Cousins admitted he was a bit disappointed because the intensity of the practice had been scaled back a bit. He wanted one more hard, full-speed, game-like practice in advance of the meeting with Baltimore on Thursday night.
At one point, Cousins dropped back inside the red zone and the pass-rushers had beat their assignments, but they slowed up rather than continuing to come after Cousins. The quarterback yelled, “No! Come get me! Come get me!” because he wanted more work on making throws under pressure. His teammates came at him, although still without a great sense of urgency. Receivers remained covered, however, so Cousins weaved his way through traffic and scored. For Cousins, there’s no such thing as being too prepared even for a preseason game where he will likely only play a series or two.
2. Under-the-radar guards: The starting offensive line has been set for some time. But two backup guards appear to be rising, while two others seem to be trending downward.
Undrafted rookie Kyle Kalis seems to have overtaken 2015 fourth-round pick Arie Kouandjio on the depth chart and is now the second-team left guard. Meanwhile, another undrafted rookie, Tyler Catalina, has replaced former practice squad member Isaiah Williams at second-team right guard. Kalis, a 6-foot-4, 302-pound Michigan product, has impressed coaches with his toughness and strength. He also plays with a bit of a nasty streak. Catalina has had some ups and downs, but he has proven more consistent than Williams, who entered the offseason practices with a chance to compete for a key roster spot. Kouandjio, like Williams, has struggled with consistency. Both now are working with the third-team offense. We’ll see how this plays out once the games begin.
3. Defensive glimpses: We won’t really get much of an indication of where things stand on offense Thursday night, because top pass-catchers Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson are all sidelined by injury. Terrelle Pryor is expected to play, as will Ryan Grant. But Kirk Cousins will have to wait until at least Week 2 to take the field with his full arsenal.
The defensive lineup should, however, feature the bulk of the anticipated starters. Only Preston Smith is injured, and it looks as if Trent Murphy will start in his place, based on the number of first-team snaps he got in this practice.
Greg Manusky won’t likely dial up all of the exotic blitzes and pressure packages in his play book. But he does want players to play hard. Look for the experimentation along the defensive line to continue as Jim Tomsula shuttles guys in and out to keep them fresh.
In Tuesday’s practice, which was the game simulation, Tomsula evenly split up snaps among his top defensive linemen. At inside linebacker, Will Compton and Mason Foster remain the starters, but Zach Brown got in on the action as well. Manusky said after practice that he doesn’t expect perfection because it’s early. But he does want to see effort and aggression above all.
Tuesday practice updates
Gruden rules out six players vs. Ravens
Redskins Coach Jay Gruden has ruled the following players as out for the preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium because of injury — tight end Jordan Reed (toe), wide receivers Josh Doctson (hamstring), Jamison Crowder (hamstring) and Kendal Thompson (tibia), cornerback Fabian Moreau (torn pectoral) and safety Montae Nicholson (shoulder).
Gruden isn’t sure how long the starters will play in the first preseason game. Last year, most of the offensive and defensive starters were on the field for just a series against the Atlanta Falcons.
“I dunno, we’ll see,” Gruden said. “I told everybody yesterday to just be ready to play the game, and then we’ll decide on the substitution pattern.”
Moreau and Nicholson to visit doctor following Baltimore game
Gruden said rookies Moreau and Nicholson, selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, are scheduled for doctors visits following the team’s preseason opener against the Ravens. Moreau has been limited during training camp as he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle, while Nicholson returns from shoulder surgery.
Both have dressed throughout training camp, but they’ve only participated during walk-throughs and individual drills.
“Hopefully we’ll get ‘em in some more team activities starting next week,” Gruden said. “That’s the goal. We’ll see how they’re doing when they get to the doctor.
Redskins donate sporting equipment to Richmond schools
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) August 8, 2017
What you missed
Redskins practice started at 1:35 p.m. this afternoon. It should be a light session as Gruden wants to keep the players fresh during the final practice before Washington’s first preseason game on Thursday.