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Special Teams Take Center Stage in Day 6 of Redskins Training Camp

The Washington Redskins held an hour long special teams’ only practice today, while a lot of the veterans had the day off and the big guys were doing some conditioning work off to the side.

With the focus on special teams, I was able to get a good look at kicker Dustin Hopkins and his leg strength. While practicing his field-goal kicking, maDay 6 of Training Campking 9 out of 10 attempts, Hopkins drilled a 63 yard field goal that ignited a cheer from his teammates. Who knew watching a kicker could be so exciting.

With the new 25-yard line touchback rule in affect this season, today’s practice provided strategy on how the Redskins will handle kickoffs as well.

“You know, we’re going to try some of the pooch stuff and try to pin them back. You know, we don’t want to just succumb to the 25-yard line,” Head Coach Jay Gruden said.

Also today, wide receiver Rashad Ross and running back Chris Thompson worked on fielding kickoffs and punts, alongside second year receiver Jamison Crowder and safety Will Blackmon. It looks like Crowder will be the main guy returning punts and the coaching staff wants to find better ways to utilize Crowder’s punt returning ability this season.

“We’ve got to give Crowder some better looks; that’s our No. 1 goal. He’s too of a punt returner to average—I think it was three-point whatever yards per return—so I think that’s something we’re really working hard on,” Gruden said.

In non-special teams related news, rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson was seen in a walking boot during practice, but nothing Redskins’ fans should be worried about.

“Really, they’re trying to work him [Doctson] hard one day and then let him rest the next day and keeping him in the boot is the best option we feel like right now,” Gruden said.

Other News and Notes from Training Camp:

  • Nose tackle Jerrell Powe is having a heart arrhythmia procedure done and will miss about 7-10 days
  • Linebacker Trent Murphy was back on the practice field after missing yesterday’s practice with strep throat

Day 5 of Training Camp for the Washington Redskins

Training Camp so far for the Washington Redskins has been one not too many people are talking about. Other than signing Josh Norman in the off-season, the Redskins training camp has been a relatively calm one. In previous years, with the uncertainty at the quarterback position with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, there were a lot of distractions surrounding the team going into the season. Now, with Griffin in Cleveland and Cousins being the guy at quarterback for Washington, the Redskins can just focus on football.

“I don’t know if it’s been like that in the past, probably when I first got here, but our goal is to coach football and play football. We’re just trying to get the best out of our guys. We’re not trying toDay 5 of Camp 2016 do any crazy stunts off the field,” Head Coach Jay Gruden said.

During practice, right tackle Morgan Moses stood out to me as well as to the coaches. Moses is quicker moving his feet and watching him during drills, Moses is doing a better job of squaring up his body and keeping defenders in front of him allowing him to extend his arms and use his hands a lot more without holding.

A lot of the credit goes to offensive line coach Bill Callahan in helping Moses continue to develop. However, you can’t take away the influence Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams is having on Moses as well.

“I took him [Moses] under my wing. He’s like a little brother to me. I see so much potential in him and so much talent in him, and you know, I’m just pleased to see how hard he works and how much he tries to continue to improve his game on the field and off the field,” Williams said.

In other news at training camp, rookie Su’a Cravens was held out of a practice today with what is believed to be a strained tendon near his hamstring.

“Craven just has a little sprained tendon on the back of his leg. Hamstring-type thing, I don’t know exactly what it is,” Gruden said.

Rookie running back Robert Kelley missed his second straight day of practice with a pulled hamstring and rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson remains on the physically unable to perform list (PUP). Also according to Gruden, tight end Derek Carrier probably won’t practice with the team in Richmond as he is still nursing his way back from a torn ACL and MCL.

Other Notes from Day 5 of Training Camp:

  • Former Richmond Spiders wide receiver Reggie Diggs was activated from the PUP list and participated in practice
  • Wednesday’s practice will hone in on special teams and a lot of the veterans will have a chance to rest
  • Bashaud Breeland intercepts Kirk Cousins for the second straight day during the team scrimmage portion of practice

Hall makes a bold statement and Lauvao returns from injury

Day four of training camp and the second one in pads saw key players return from injury and veteran safety DeAngelo Hall sharing his thoughts on the newly built Redskins secondary.

Guard Shawn Lauvao returned from the physically unable to perform list and practiced for the first time this training camp, bolstering an already improving Redskins offensive line.

“We’re fired up to see ol’ Shawny out there again,” Head Coach Jay  Gruden said.

Rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson is making progress, but is still not on the practice field. Doctson, who was doing some work off to the side, made a leaping catch and came down on his Achilles showing no sign of pain. Right now, it looks like the coaching staff is just being precautionary with Doctson but there is still no timetable IMG_0298[1]to his return.

“I don’t have any timeline really, or update. He’s [Doctson] still in the rehab position and he’s trying to get it stronger and we’re taking it slow, but I don’t have any idea as of now,” Gruden said.

DeAngelo Hall, talking to the media after this morning’s walkthrough, gave a statement that raised some eyebrows. When asked about the talent in the Redskins’ secondary, Hall didn’t hold back in his answer.

“Just watching guys compete and battle, there’s no doubt in my mind this is the most talented group that I’ve ever been around, I’ve ever been a part of,” Hall said.

Strong words coming from a guy, who was with the Oakland Raiders when they had Nnamdi Asomugha, Gibril Wilson, Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, Tyvon Branch, and himself in the secondary.

But Hall may have a point. With the signings of Josh Norman and David Bruton Jr., drafting cornerback Kendall Fuller and safety Su’a Cravens and the continued improvement of cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Quinton Dunbar, the secondary has improved from top to bottom and now has multiple players who can play multiple positions.

“Any time you you’ve got multiple guys who can do multiple things and play multiple positions, it gives you an advantage. Any time you can mix it up and give offenses that little bit of something to think about, it’s always good for a defense,” Hall said.

Other notes from Day 4 of training camp:

  • Cornerback Greg Toler continues to impress coaches so far this training camp
  • Ricky Jean Francois continues to be a spark plug for the Skins’ defensive line
  • Breeland intercepted Kirk Cousins with a nice leaping grab during redzone drills that got the fans on their feet
  • Running backs Chris Thompson and Matt Jones split 1st team reps today

Positives To Take Away From Day 2 of Training Camp

In the second day of non-contact practice for the Washington Redskins, there were positives to take away from the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

Tight end Niles Paul, coming off a severe ankle injury that cost him all of the 2015-16 season, he had a strong performance today in practice. During one-on-one drills, Paul had no problem creating separation from the defenders to secure passes from quarterback Colt McCoy and during the team scrimmage, Paul made a nice two-handed catch falling out of bounds with the corner draped to his hip. There’s no question Jordan Reed is number one on the depth chart at the tight end position, but Paul has a good chance of getting the number two spot if he can show coaches that ankle injury is a thing of the past and that he’s a better receiving target than free agent pickup Vernon Davis.

Also during the team scrimmage, the running game looks to have shown some improvement from last season. Both Matt Jones and Chris Thompson were able to find the cutback lanes and gash the defense for some big runs and Head Coach Jay Gruden is expecting a lot from those two.

“Thompson is very dependable, accountable, and he’s everything you want…It’s been good to watch Matt progress, not just carrying the ball but knowing who to block and knowing all the little things about the running back position,” Gruden said.

Credit also goes to the Redskins’ offensive lineman, led by Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams, who created holes that made Jones and Thompson’s jobs a lot easier.

When asked about the chemistry of the offensive line, Gruden said,

“We have guys that have played together and we have a close-knit group and of course we have one of the best—if not the best—line coach in the National Football League [Bill Callahan].”

The competition between the wide receivers and cornerbacks will be an entertaining matchup all training camp. Pierre Garcon made a diving catch over Josh Norman today that had the crowd up in applause. However, Gruden wants to see competition at all the positions.

“I think one of the big things that is going to make us a better team is the competition, not just corners versus corners that are trying to make the football team, but also corners versus wide receivers, safeties versus tight ends, linebackers versus backs, offensive line versus defensive line,” Gruden said.

On the defensive side, linebacker Will Compton continues to be a bright spot and wants to prove he can be an every down linebacker for the Redskins. With that mentality Compton has raised the efforts of his teammates around him, specifically linebacker Perry Riley, who returned to the field today from the physically unable to perform list.

“It just seemed when Will got in there, Perry’s play was very, very good,” Gruden said.

Other Notes:

  • The team will be in pads for the first time tomorrowDay 2 of Training Camp

Day 1 of Training Camp for the Washington Redskins

Day one of Redskins Training Camp was definitely a scorcher, with a heat index of 109 degrees during the Skins afternoon practice. Other than a lot of sweating, from the fans to the players, everything went according to schedule for the Redskins as they officially began their 2016-17 season.

Throughout practice, quarterback Kirk Cousins looked to have greater control of the offense, taking more of a leadership role knowing he’s the guy at quarterback for the Redskins.

“Right now it’s all talk, but there’s no doubt that you have more comfort when you’ve played and been the starter and been out there and had experiences,” Cousins said.

Head coach Jay Gruden sees not only a difference in Cousins but the team as well.

“Not just him, I just think the whole team rallying around him and knowing who the quarterback is, is very important,” Gruden said.

Also, guys like cornerback Bashaud Breeland and tight end Jordan Reed looked great during one-on-one drills, looking to build off of what were career years for both last year. Something Redskins fans should be excited about.

A position battle that intrigued me today and will for the rest of training camp is the battle going on at running back. Right now, Matt Jones is the guy, but there is a question of if he can hold on to the top spot on the depth chart by the time the regular season begins September 12th against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of health

Desean Jackson being interviewed after practice
Desean Jackson being interviewed after practice on July 28, 2016.

concerns and whether he can be consistent enough to catch the football out of the backfield.

The Redskins strongest position coming into training camp is at the linebacker position. Even with the loss of linebacker Junior Galette, second-round pick from a year ago, linebacker Preston Smith, continues to improve as he enters his second year in the league.

“You know, he’s got a ton of ability and it’s our job to get more out of him. He’s bigger, he’s stronger, he’s faster this year. I think he’s going to be a heck of a pass-rusher for us for a long time,” Gruden said.

The opening of training camp today didn’t provide a lot of noteworthy material, but what it did provide was a look at a confident team that believes they have all the right pieces to repeat as NFC East champions.

The Redskins will be back on the field tomorrow with another 10:35 am walkthrough and a 3 pm practice.

Jay Gruden Talks Before the Start of Training Camp

The Washington Redskins will have their first official training camp practice of the 2016-17 season tomorrow at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center.

Still Jay Gruden held a press conference today updating the media on everything from the swarming, hot temperatures to Kirk Cousins’ contract status.

The loss of linebacker Junior Galette for the second straight year is a big blow to the Redskins defense before camp even starts, but Gruden knows injuries are a part of the game and now it’s the next man up mentality for the Skins defense.

“Watching him work, the attitude he had coming into camp, it’s sad to see his season cut short…but injuries are a part of the game,” Gruden said.

While Gruden believes the heat won’t have much of a factor on practices, he’s willing to make some changes to the practice schedule if need be.

“We’ll see how it goes. It’s important to keep our players hydrated and just take it day by day,” Gruden said.

The hot topic around Redskins Park all off-season was Kirk Cousins’ contract. Since the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension, Cousins will be playing under the franchise tag this season, but from here on out, Cousins’ contract will not be discussed.

“No talk about contracts,” Gruden said, when asked about Cousins’ contract status.

Tomorrow starts off for the team with a 10:35 a.m. walkthrough. Then the team will have a non-contact practice at 3 p.m.

Jay Gruden talking to the media on Wednesday, June 27, 2016.
Jay Gruden talking to the media on Wednesday, June 27, 2016.