The OTA workouts are voluntary, so players are not required to attend.
“I don’t ask when they’re not. … It’s not mandatory,” Gruden said. “I’m just worried about the guys that are here. We’ve got a pretty good group of guys that are here. There’s only a couple that aren’t here. And the guys that are here have bought in and are working extremely hard to get better.”
Brown signed a three-year deal with the Redskins worth a maximum of $24 million in March after testing free agency. He led the team with 127 tackles last season, his first year in Washington, but many thought he’d chase a bigger payday elsewhere this offseason.
Brown dealt with a litany of injuries in 2017 — toe, Achilles’, hip — and missed three games. The team has been optimistic about the growth of the defense with Brown in defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s system alongside Mason Foster for a second consecutive year.
Josh Harvey-Clemons has gotten much of Brown’s vacated reps with the first team.
“It’s always important, and it’s always a thing for those backup players with Harvey-Clemons getting those reps for him,” Manusky said. “I want Zach to be here. He’s not, but from my standpoint, with those players that are here that are working, those young bucks, I’m excited for them to make an advance as well.”
Offensive growth: The development of the offense under new quarterback Alex Smith continues to be a process that can vary within a single practice. The defense seemed to win the early periods, highlighted by a Deshazor Everett interception after Fabian Moreau tipped a deep pass from Colt McCoy. Gruden was happy the unit created turnovers the last two days. Smith didn’t look crisp early, but warmed up as the day wore one and was active with his legs. Jamison Crowder saw lots of action and Josh Doctson was heavily involved, including a pair of touchdown receptions from Smith. Receiver Robert Davis made a couple big plays, including a high-point catch over Joshua Holsey for a deep touchdown from McCoy. Receiver Brian Quick also had some highlight moments.
“We all get paid to do this, so defense is going to win some days, offense is going to win some,” receiver Paul Richardson said. “I think we started off slow today on offense, but we picked up very well. We had fun in those last couple periods.
“If you notice, it’s a lot of young guys making plays. I’m excited for that because if you’ve got depth, you’ve got a lot. And it’s hard to have depth in this league with guys getting banged up and injured all the time. I’m happy with what the offense did today.”
50-50 club: Smith hasn’t been averse to taking some risks during the OTA workouts. On several occasions, he’s given receivers the chance to make a play on a 50-50 ball despite having a defender in the area.
“That’s just him trying to get to know his receivers, you know,” Gruden said. “At the end of the day, we don’t know if these guys can come down with the ball unless we give them some opportunities. And it’s the same with the defensive backs. … Sometimes I’ll tell them to take a shot whether they want to or not because I have got to see the defensive backs play the ball in the air and I want to see the receivers play the ball in the air.”
Welcomed presence: Tight end Jordan Reed participated in pre-practice stretches as he continues to work his way back from hamstring and toe injuries that landed him on injured reserve last season. He’s not expected to fully practice before training camp.
“Oh, it’s nice,” Gruden said. “He’s been here. You know, he’s been working hard with the trainers now. He might not have been out on the field every day that you guys have been here, but he’s been here. His attendance has been excellent. His rehab schedule is on track to being ready, and I like where he’s at.
“His upper body strength is great. I think he’s on track to be there for training camp. We’ll wait and see.”
DNP: Chris Thompson, Kapri Bibbs, Keith Marshall, Zach Brown, T.J. Clemmings, Tyler Catalina, Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Manasseh Garner, Jordan Reed, Stacy McGee, Phil Taylor did not practice during Wednesday’s session.
Rotation notes: Third-round rookie Geron Christian got the first first-team reps at left tackle, while John Kling was at right tackle. Orlando Scandrick received the first cornerback reps opposite Josh Norman. The running back rotation started from Rob Kelley to Samaje Perine to second-round rookie Derrius Guice and later adjusted.
Hall in the house: Longtime Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall was on the sidelines with team President Bruce Allen on Wednesday. The future is unknown as he’s expected to retire and either join a front office or take an on-air television position before the 2018 season begins. Hall found himself in an awkward position recently as he, seemingly, announced his retirement to media at Ryan Kerrigan’s charity golf outing two weeks ago. He retracted later that day saying he was “probably 95 percent sure” he would retire and explained a desire to hold a formal announcement in conjunction with the team once a decision becomes final.
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