The Redskins followed the final practice period with sets of sideline-to-sideline sprints that haven’t been the norm since training camp. Every position group then had a “developmental period” after the official end of practice.
Those were just a few of the tweaks Callahan installed in his first practice at the helm of the 0-5 Redskins.
“We’re just switching up, basically tweaking the format of practice,” Callahan said. “Just really kind of focused on team. … What I did this morning was explain everything to them, what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it, what the expectations were, what the challenges are, and they seemed receptive to it. I think they just want to get back to playing good, solid, foundational, fundamental football, and that gives us a chance."
The differences Callahan plans to bring to the job were apparent throughout the afternoon. The interim coach announced that he would no longer detail injury issues the way Gruden did after every practice, leaving the daily injury report to speak for itself.
Callahan also said he would not announce a starting quarterback until Friday, although he did say that all three of the team’s passers — Case Keenum, Colt McCoy and Dwayne Haskins — received some first-team reps.
Even the pre-practice stretches were different, with the captains in front and facing the team, as opposed to lining up with everyone else. Callahan said he wants the captains to take a bigger leadership role.
Other changes included a gantlet-style ball-security drill for the offense and the entire team huddling together after stretches. Players described the practice as having more tempo with an emphasis on attention to detail.
Wednesday marked the first open locker room period since Gruden’s firing, but there wasn’t a noticeable difference in mood or attitude among the players. They were respectful of Gruden and took responsibility for the team’s shortcomings but also preached the need to move on under their interim coach.
“This thing is not going to get fixed in one day,” offensive lineman Morgan Moses said. “We have to come together because an 0-5 start for this franchise is embarrassing, man.”
Landon Collins sat at his locker getting dressed, shook his head and expressed zero interest in talking about the Redskins’ coaching change. The three-time Pro Bowl safety has seen this before, when his New York Giants team made a midseason switch from Ben McAdoo to Steve Spagnuolo in 2017, and the Giants spiraled to a 3-13 finish. Collins signed an $84 million deal with the Redskins during free agency this year, and this isn’t exactly what he signed up for.
“It’s not something you want to go through,” Collins said. “You’ve got to stay positive. You’ve got to keep your guys into it as much as you can. Whoever becomes the coach has to have the respect of the guys and stuff like that. … I’m just taking it day-by-day, bro. Coming in to do my work, do my job to the best of my ability to get these guys right on defense as much as I can.”
Whereas Collins signed with Washington by choice, Keenum arrived via trade from the Denver Broncos in March. He worked closely with Gruden to learn the offense, which may change slightly under Callahan, who has expressed that he wants to renew the team’s dedication to the running game. The coaching change may ultimately work in Keenum’s favor, however, considering that McCoy was a favorite of Gruden’s from their many seasons together. Keenum started the first four games before being benched for Haskins in a Week 4 loss to the Giants. McCoy started last week against New England.
“As far as it being awkward, it’s a tough business,” Keenum said. “Football is a great game, but it’s a tough business. There’s a lot of hard days. I’ve had a lot more hard days than I’ve had great days. But that’s what makes those great days really, really great. And I think we have some great days ahead of us.”
Keenum (foot) was a full participant in practice and said he’s feeling better than he has the past two weeks. Tackle Donald Penn (hamstring), guard Wes Martin (chest), tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) and linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring) were out Wednesday. Tight end Vernon Davis (concussion), tackle Morgan Moses (shoulder) and guard Brandon Scherff (ankle) were limited.