Four weeks of organized team activities and mandatory minicamp camp came to a conclusion Wednesday, and the Washington Redskins now begin a six-week break before training camp in Richmond.
The final session wrapped up with an emphasis on third-string players, who received more snaps than usual as the first team spent time on the sideline.
Mandatory minicamp was scheduled to run Tuesday through Thursday, but Coach Jay Gruden canceled the final day, as he has in the past.
“I think it went great,” Gruden said. “The most important thing in my mind was to get these guys in great physical shape, and I think [strength coach] Chad Englehart and his staff did a great job. And then [head trainer] Larry Hess and the trainers did a good job getting the guys back, trying to get them back to full health, the guys that were injured.
“And then I wanted them to learn the system, try to get as much as we could installed. We did a great job of that, so that when they come to training camp they are ready to roll. And then of course just getting to know each other so they can learn to play together and work together as a team. I think we accomplished what I set out to accomplish.”
Gruden purposely gave quarterback Kevin Hogan extended time during the final session in an effort to boost his confidence before training camp and get in more evaluation.
The defense seemed to have a better day Wednesday after Alex Smith picked apart the unit Tuesday. Rookie safety Troy Apke broke up multiple passes, Mason Foster nearly picked off Smith, and rookie cornerback Greg Stroman had an interception along the sideline that might have been a pick-six in live action.
Before his team headed out on their break, Gruden had a simple directive:
“Progress, progress, progress, progress,” Gruden said. “We can’t de-gress. I think they’ve put themselves in a great situation to hit training camp in great shape. What we don’t want to have happen is these guys to go to the beach and drink a bunch of iced teas, whatever they do, and Cokes, and eat popcorn, and doughnuts and gain 20 pounds. Then we have to start all over, strip them back down and start all over.
“I don’t think that’ll happen. Everybody understands. I think the beauty of this is everybody understands we have more depth here. We’re not going to really have time for you to get in shape. You better come in shape and compete for your job and compete to make this roster. Otherwise, we have a lot of guys here that can play, and I think they see that.”
More depth: Newly acquired wide receiver Paul Richardson has been impressed by the team’s depth. The competitiveness at each position and the atmosphere of the sessions have stood out to the 26-year-old who signed a five-year, $40 million deal in free agency.
“There’s a lot of talent here. That’s what stood out,” Richardson said. “This team is ready to put some wins up, play in that postseason. It’s been a while. I’ve got postseason experience. Alex has experience for umpteen years he’s been in the NFL winning games. They brought in some guys that are looking to win and brought us to a team that’s ready to win.
“The attitude and the mood really stood out. You wouldn’t think this team would have this much energy, would have this much swagger, would have this much talent here. Guys just have to stay healthy.”
Scuffle: A mid-practice fight broke out between defensive linemen Ondre Pipkins and Anthony Lanier that ended after Lanier’s jersey was pulled off over the top of his head. Camp scuffles aren’t rare, but they’re typically between players on opposite sides of the ball.
DNP: Running backs Chris Thompson and Keith Marshall; tackles T.J. Clemmings, Trent Williams, Morgan Moses and Ty Nsekhe; tight ends Manasseh Garner and Jordan Reed; wide receiver Brian Quick; and defensive linemen Stacy McGee and Phil Taylor did not participate Wednesday.
Camp time change: Gruden will have the team practice in the mornings during training camp in an effort to reduce injuries. The plan is to be off the field around noon for lunch, with meetings afterward. Those meetings will be followed by a walk-through and then additional meetings. The idea is to provide extra recovery time to, hopefully, limit injuries. Practices are slated to begin at 9:45 a.m. before switching to afternoons late in camp.
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