RICHMOND — Most of the Washington Redskins had already trotted off the practice field Tuesday afternoon, but Mason Foster lingered in the sweltering Virginia heat, squeezing in extra work less than 48 hours before his team opens their preseason scheduled against the New England Patriots.
If the first ten days of training camp in Richmond were an introductory phase for the starting middle linebacker, then Tuesday marked a chance for Foster and other veterans to fall back into their pregame preparation for the first time this season — a significant benchmark, exhibition game or not.
“You kind of have to get into your rhythm, your routine before the game, your stretching, your hot tub, whatever you do the night before,” Foster said. “You have to start to get into mode instead of camp mode.”
Tuesday was more of an in-season practice, Foster said, a “mock game” that helped a large roster acclimate to substitutions and other in-game situations. Coaches simulated preseason game substitutions by quickly rotating their personnel; the rotation reflected the team’s first unofficial depth chart released Monday.
“Now we’re working toward another opponent, as opposed to practicing to get better and play against each other, so that’s exciting,” Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said.
Washington Coach Jay Gruden didn’t reveal whether the depth chart would remain the same against New England. But there was an apparent urgency with Tuesday’s shorter-than-normal session as veterans like Foster and Josh Norman helped shepherd game preparations during 11-on-11 drills in addition to completing their own work after practice. Foster said he will approach Thursday’s game with the same mentality as he would a regular season game, even though he is only expected to play a couple of series against the Patriots. That could include cryotherapy, an Epsom salt bath and Pedialyte drinks, he said.
“I do it anyway during this time, just because of the routine,” Foster said. “At the same time, it’s a little more relaxed, because you know you’re not going to play the whole time.”
Receiver Josh Doctson (shoulder, heel) took part in full team periods on Tuesday. He had been limited to individual work since last Wednesday.
Gruden does not expect receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) or D.J Swearinger (hamstring) to play Thursday.
Norman vs. Sherman
Receiver Paul Richardson spent the first four years of his career in Seattle before signing with the Redskins during free agency. In those years, he had an up-close look at Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman. Now, Richardson is getting a similar look at another Pro Bowl cornerback: Josh Norman.
Richardson was asked to compare the two Tuesday.
“They’re both talented guys,” Richardson said. “I was fortunate to go against Richard for four years. Richard is the first guy to ever grab me and he told me, ‘Look, stay after practice. We’ve got stuff to work on.’ He liked being challenged by my speed and I liked being challenged by how high his IQ was and the angles he took because he wasn’t the fastest guy. Josh Norman plays well in our defense. Plays really well. Coming here, he has really good ball skills. DBs usually don’t. He can track the ball. He can make plays on the ball. He’s really good angles, as well. He knows himself as a competitor and as a defensive back.
“I’m fortunate to go from one team playing against a great DB to another team playing against a great DB.”
Cohesion on the line
The offensive line has been one of the most banged up units on the team during camp, but not from new injuries as tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses have worked back slowly from offseason surgeries. That has opened opportunities for young players and other reserves like rookie Geron Christian, John Kling and T.J. Clemmings.
Center Chase Roullier is eager to face the Patriots and see how the line holds up against a team wearing a different logo.
“Biggest goal is to just work as a unit,” Roullier said. “We’ve had a lot of practice with one another, but it’s a whole other thing when you’re out there in a game. Being able to mesh together as a group, as an offensive line, that’s a big step that needs to be taken when the games start coming.”
Read more on the Redskins: