Some notes, quotes and observations from Sunday at Redskins Park:
SS LaRon Landry did not return to practice as scheduled. He injured his hamstring while working out in Indianapolis when the team was there on Thursday and Friday. Landry, you’ll recall, is on the physically-unable-to-perform list because of an ailing left Achilles’ tendon.
Landry had planned to come off the PUP list Sunday and practice. Coach Mike Shanahan wouldn’t say whether this setback jeopardizes Landry’s availability for the season-opener on Sept. 11.
“Let’s go day-by-day,” Shanahan said. “I don’t know how bad the hamstring is. We all know hamstrings sometimes take a day or two, other times a little bit longer. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Landry declined comment before practice.
Shanahan positively reviewed QB John Beck’s play after watching the game film.
“You never know when a guy has a sack is it the quarterback’s fault? Is it the offensive line? Could he have made a play? Good quarterback play is taking a sack when you have to take a sack, trying to make something happen when you’re able to make something happen. I thought John made some good decisions.”
Beck played it safe and didn’t throw deep, but that’s how Shanahan wanted him to attack Indianapolis’ defense because they play so much Cover-2.
“If you do go down field you’re going to lose the football game,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got to be patient. Sometimes when they do give you a big play, you’ve got to take advantage of it, but it’s the type of team you’ve got to execute all the way down the field.
“They’re a zone team. About 90 percent of the time if you go for the big play you’re going to throw interceptions. You’re going to get sacks. That’s what they live by. The next team we play, they may give you big opportunities to get the big play because you can’t consistently move the ball down the field because they take chances with blitzing and zone blitzes, a lot of different things.”
Hopefully Beck airs it out a bit more against Baltimore this week so we can get a better feel for his willingness to take risks and his accuracy on long throws.
In my review of how the Redskins’ offense played in Friday’s win over Indy, I wondered out loud whether Beck is a “gamer.” Some guys simply raise their level of play in games, and Beck did that on Friday. He was much sharper than he was during practice.
Well, for what it’s worth, WR Jabar Gaffney believes there’s something to the hunch.
“He’s a gamer,” Gaffney said without having that specific term suggested to him. “From everything we do in practice, he was a totally different guy out on the field in the game. His energy level picked up. It picked up a lot. That surprised me a little bit, and that’s a good thing.”
Just something to keep in mind as Beck builds game experience.
Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s a link to the defense review.
If OLB Lorenzo Alexander looked quicker getting around the left edge for his sack against the Colts on Friday, it wasn’t your imagination. He feels much more explosive after reducing his body fat by 5 percent this offseason.
He also tried to improve his explosiveness by training with former Redskins’ linebacker LaVar Arrington at Arrington’s home five times during the offseason. Repetition was the key to their sessions, Alexander said.
“Over the last couple of years, we haven’t really focused on pass-rush techniques per se in practice and the offseason,” Alexander said. “When you don’t do that, and I’m not a natural pass rusher, you don’t have great technique. Working with him on little things and really going over and over and over again becomes more natural for me; being explosive, being just violent with whatever move you’re doing and pushing the pocket.”
After dabbling at inside linebacker during the offseason and early in camp, Alexander said he’s now considered an emergency option at that position because the Redskins signed Keyaron Fox and re-signed Rocky McIntosh.
Rookie WR Niles Paul averaged 10 yards on four punt returns against Indianapolis. The main returner for Nebraska quickly realized the different challenges at the pro level.
“It’s so much harder to find holes,” he said. “Just the speed of guys, they’re getting down there and you’ve got to make your reads quick. In college I could go to one side, cut back, cut back again. Here you’ve got to make your move and you’ve got to be decisive.”
Paul gained two yards on his first return and 20 on his fourth. With each opportunity, he adapted to setting up his running lanes and recognizing how to get the wall of Redskins’ blockers.
“Obviously on my first one, I don’t know what the hell happened,” he said. “They were down there so fast; all I could do was react. But I think I got real comfortable after a while.”
Sunday is Beck’s 30th birthday. So does he feel like a more experienced quarterback?
“Oh, so much more than yesterday,” he cracked.
The NFL’s supplemental draft is Monday, and former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is eligible. The Redskins see him as a project, and finding a roster spot for him might be impossible. “Like all quarterbacks it’s going to take some time,” Shanahan said, “but he does have a lot of ability.”
I don’t believe they would spend a 2012 draft pick on him unless they had a roster spot available, and it would be a major shock if they kept him as the third quarterback over Kellen Clemens.
New OLB Thaddeus Gibson believes he’ll pick up the Redskins’ defense quickly because the scheme is so similar to Pittsburgh’s. The Steelers drafted him last season and reportedly tried to claim him on waivers when the Redskins got him.
The injury news wasn’t all bad for the secondary. FS Oshiomogho Atogwe and CB Josh Wilson returned from hamstring injuries and fully participated in practice. Atogwe strained his hamstring on Aug. 6 and missed the team’s first two preseason games. He plans to play against Baltimore on Thursday.
“It felt natural to be back out there,” Atogwe said. “I didn’t feel slow. I actually felt pretty fast, quick thinking. It’s just that muscle memory has to come back.”
The Redskins have forced only one turnover in two preseason games. I’m eager to see if Atogwe immediately helps increase that average.
Updates on the rest of the injuries:
PR/KR Brandon Banks is receiving platelet-rich-plasma treatments in his ailing left knee with hopes of playing in the preseason finale against Tampa Bay, Shanahan said. Banks ignored reporters’ request for an interview.
RB Ryan Torain will continue testing his broken left hand in practice this week by taking handoffs and catching passes. He plans to miss Thursday’s game against Baltimore but play against Tampa Bay.
LB London Fletcher (hamstring) returned to practice.
TE Chris Cooley (left knee) watched practice from the sideline. He did not attend practice last week. He is expected to speak to reporters Monday.
WR Malcolm Kelly is still out, although further tests revealed no structural damage in his ailing right foot.