All eyes were on the newcomers during the Washington Redskins’ second day of organized team activities as the public and media got their first glimpse of much-anticipated additions at quarterback, receiver, running back, defensive line and cornerback.
The team began the first of three separate OTA sessions on Tuesday and will conclude the three-day program Thursday. The practice was held in the indoor facility after recent rains made the outdoor field dangerous.
Quarterback Alex Smith, receiver Paul Richardson, rookie Derrius Guice and cornerback Orlando Scandrick all flashed at moments and showed why the organization wanted them on the roster. First-round defensive tackle Daron Payne had a steady day, but didn’t have any splash plays.
Smith looked like a veteran quarterback with 13 years of NFL experience on the resume. He’s the clear-cut leader of the offense and was efficient with his throws and decision-making. The play of the day may have been a connection with Richardson for about 45 yards as the receiver showed off his speed by running right by rookie Greg Stroman down the sideline. Smith threw the same perfect deep ball that he often threw to speedster Tyreek Hill in Kansas City last season.
“He’s got good command of the offense already,” Coach Jay Gruden said about Smith. “Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.
“So, now, it’s just a matter of him getting used to the players around him.”
Smith showed touch on an out-route to Jamison Crowder and hit checkdowns when the coverage was tight. He did force a few passes that he’s unlikely to attempt during games.
“Most of the time you’re just trying to be the point guard out there based on the play call and the defense that you’re getting,” Smith said. “That really dictates where the football goes. Matchups play into that, but certainly this time of year, I think there’s something to be said about pushing it a little bit. When we get to camp and real ball, you can kind of rein that in a little.”
Richardson, who signed a five-year, $40-million deal, looked as fast as advertised and displayed good hands.
Guice, the N0.59 overall pick, ran with bursts of energy and sharp cuts to avoid defenders.
Scandrick, who played all of his first 10 seasons with the Cowboys, had a couple nice pass-breakups, including a near interception of Smith on an out route intended for Crowder. The Redskins are working Scandrick at both cornerback and nickelback after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller.
Other notables from Day 2 of OTAs:
DNP: Several players did not participate in Tuesday’s session. Linebacker Zach Brown was not in the building as he was moving to the area. Josh Harvey-Clemons got the first-team snaps in Brown’s place. Defensive tackle Phil Taylor was absent and tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring, toe) continued to rehab from last season’s injuries. The tackle position was thin as Trent Williams (knee), Morgan Moses (ankle), Tyler Catalina (lower leg), Ty Nsekhe and T.J. Clemmings were all out due to injury. Catalina is expected to return Thursday or next week, according to a person familiar with the injury. Running back Chris Thompson (leg) was also out. Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen was back after finishing his rookie season on injured reserve, but was limited. Linebacker Mason Foster and running back Rob Kelley were both back after suffering season-ending injuries in 2017. Receiver Robert Davis was out with a toe injury.
Running back rotation: Kelley took a handoff on the first snap of team periods and Samaje Perine, the 2017 fourth-round pick, was next in the rotation. Guice was third in the initial rotation.
“You could see the competition,” Gruden said. “You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit. He’s done an excellent job picking up what we’re trying to do.
“I feel really good about where our running backs are right now. Competition’s great and it’s going to continue to be so. I think that position will be one of strength this year.”
Urgency: Doug Williams, senior vice president of player personnel, has said there is no increased sense of urgency this season, but the players may feel a bit differently. The franchise has just one winning season and one playoff berth in the last five years.
“Yes, there has to be,” Norman said. “At this point, it has to be. No other way.”
The defense ranked No. 27 in the league by allowing 24.2 points per game in 2017 in defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s first year. That side of the ball expects more.
“There’s definitely a sense of urgency,” safety D.J. Swearinger said. “I can speak for the defense, there’s definitely a sense of urgency from what we did last year and where we need to go.”
Catch-and-go: The development of the relationship between Smith and the receivers is, arguably, the most important facet of the offseason. Gruden is known for passing-game prowess and he needs that to excel as soon as possible. There are expectations for Josh Doctson and Crowder to take significant steps forward this season.
“Josh has done great,” Gruden said. “He’s been available for us and he’s just getting that work with Alex, but he’s done a good job. He looks good. He looks more comfortable as far as his stems and routes and understanding out breaking the huddle … knowing what to do.
“Paul (Richardson) has done an excellent job. You could see his speed out there today. Obviously, Jamison had another big day today. He’s been outstanding.”
Gruden also complimented Robert Davis and Maurice Harris.
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