“J-Reed is the best tight end in the league when he’s healthy,” right tackle Morgan Moses said. “Having him on the field definitely is another weapon for Alex [Smith]. It sharpens up the coverages. A lot of guys can’t play a lot of coverages on him because he’s too big — he’s too explosive for linebackers.”
Moses himself got some full 11-on-11 work for the first time since camp began. The coaches have been careful with the fifth-year veteran coming off an offseason ankle surgery. He signed a five-year, $38.5 million deal in 2017 and is charged with protecting Smith, the new franchise quarterback. Moses said the ankle felt good but that the biggest thing is getting mentally confident in the joint.
The Redskins want their tackles healthy and plan to keep left tackle Trent Williams (knee) in individual periods for a while longer.
“The transition, just trying to get my feet wet and get ready,” Moses said. “Obviously we’ve got a game coming around the corner. Just trying to prep myself the best way that I can. Going into year five, so you kind of know what you need to do to prepare yourself. Obviously we’ve got a new quarterback, so trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible when you have all his guys out.
“He’s been in the league for a while. Me and Trent and all the other guys that are coming back that have been in the league for a while, we kind of know the standards that we keep and what we need to do when we get back. It’s a trust system. I’m pretty sure Alex doesn’t want us 75 percent out there. He’d rather have us 100.”
Inside linebacker Zach Brown was also back on the field despite dealing with a strained quadriceps. Gruden spoke before the morning practice began and said Brown remains day-to-day and his participation depends on how he feels each day. The team’s leading tackler last season signed a three-year, $24 million deal to remain with the Redskins during the offseason.
Competition evens out, but defense still rules the day
The defense absolutely owned the offense on Friday, but things evened out a bit on Saturday. The defense, however, remains ahead early in training camp, which is typical. Several plays that produced completions likely would have been sacks in games.
Smith threw a pretty pass to the sideline, leading Josh Doctson as he ran an intermediate crossing route. Rookie safety Troy Apke nearly picked off Colt McCoy on a ball that probably shouldn’t have been thrown because of the coverage. Tight end Garrett Hudson had a nice toe-dragging catch to the sideline on a pass from Kevin Hogan.
This was the first day the team was in shoulder pads, and there was more hitting than in the past. There was no full to-the-ground tackling. Day 3 was the coolest day thus far with temperatures in the mid-80s and a significant amount of cloud cover.
No Scandrick or Anderson
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick missed the session because of a scheduled veteran’s day off. Fabian Moreau picked up the nickelback snaps with the 11th-year veteran out, and Quinton Dunbar remained on the outside opposite Josh Norman.
Linebacker Ryan Anderson left practice Friday with back spasms and did not practice Saturday. Gruden was hopeful that he’ll be available Sunday.
Play of the day
Smith connected with Jamison Crowder down the left side of the field for a touchdown of about 50 yards for the biggest play of the day. Crowder ran away from a trailing defender, did a layup with the ball over the goal post then celebrated with Paul Richardson. Full disclosure: Smith may have been sacked if there were live tackling of the quarterback.
“I think we’re just trying to, for right now in these early stages, we’re trying to reacclimate to our system, slowly but surely,” Gruden said. “I think the first five to six practices is mainly system-oriented. After that we’ll get into a more situational-type ball — third down, red zone, move the ball with no huddle — all that good stuff. But right now we are just about trying to install our system. After that we’ll push the envelope and push them and make sure we get them ready, more so than we have, hopefully, for Arizona.”
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