Some notes, quotes and observations from Redskins Park on Monday:
It was a busy day in Ashburn. We heard from both quarterbacks, both coordinators and the head coach. Let’s get to it.
We don’t know which quarterback will start Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said the decision has been made. Coach Mike Shanahan said it has not. Whatever. The bottom line is we’ll have to wait at least another day to find out. Kyle did say that both will play with the Redskins’ offensive starters.
The Ravens’ defense presents different challenges than Indianapolis’. The Colts’ Cover-2 limited opportunities downfield and forced the Redskins to move the ball with short passes. Baltimore, though, is more aggressive.
“They’re going to pressure a lot more than what we saw last week, so when they pressure there’s obviously some holes,” QB John Beck said. “The tough thing is protecting enough, giving enough time to find those holes and allowing the receivers to get there.
“I think the big test is for our line and our backs this week in protection stuff, which will be good for us because there’s a lot of teams nowadays in the NFL—a lot of playoff teams—that run this style defense.”
If the Redskins’ offensive line is up to the challenge, we should get a better feel for Beck’s risk management regarding downfield chances and his accuracy in executing those throw in game situations.
As much as Beck’s mobility stood out against the Colts, it might distinguish him even more from QB Rex Grossman against the fast Ravens’ defense.
“He definitely can outflank the defense,” Kyle Shanahan said. He’s got good feet and can run well. I haven’t had too many quarterbacks who have been mobile like that.
“But regardless, you don’t have to be real mobile to run keepers in our offense. You’ve seen Rex do it and you saw Donovan [McNabb] do it last year. [Matt] Schaub was able to do stuff with keepers, and he’s not the fastest guy in the world at all. But it definitely does help him.”
Beck was asked about how he decides when to run.
“There’s a of factors that go into it, like what the defense does, situationally, down and distance,” he said. “All of that matters, especially on first down if you can not force a throw but you can run for 8 yards, you’re going to run for 8 yards instead of trying to squeeze one in there. Now if it’s third down and you’ve got to get down the field to get the first down, then you might be more apt to try to squeeze one in there.”
As for the Colts’ game, when he rushed twice for 17 yards? “On a few of those, I felt like they were so conscious of the pass on the keepers that I knew I always had in my pocket 5 to 8 yards on every run,” he said. “Going into the game, that was kind of my game plan.”
TE Chris Cooley said his ailing left knee is progressing well, and he’s convinced he will play Week 1 against the New York Giants. He entered his anti-gravity treadmill session expecting to run at 50 percent of his body weight, but he felt good enough to go at 60 percent for four miles. That’s an auspicious sign.
Mike Sellers is expected to return to fullback in the second half of Thursday’s game, Mike Shanahan said. Sellers, an 11-year veteran, was moved from fullback to tight end at the start of training camp and played with the reserves in both preseason games.
Sellers, as a tight end, helped clear a path for RB Tim Hightower’s touchdown plunge against Indianapolis. I think he can still contribute as a straight ahead blocker and on special teams.
Darrel Young, however, is positioned to be the opening day starter at fullback after two quality showings in preseason games.
“DY is an excellent fullback,” Mike Shanahan said. “I can tell you that just being around him for the first couple weeks. He’s very smart. He’s very competitive. It’s hard to find guys in that 250-pound range that can block and catch the ball like he did. I think everybody one of those runs [when] he caught the ball in the flat and made an excellent run. Not too many fullbacks can make that type of play at that size. Hopefully he just keeps on getting better.”
RB Roy Helu improved his stock in Kyle Shanahan’s eyes after rushing for 104 yards against the Colts, including a 51-yarder.
“He took as big of a jump as anyone from the first week to the second week,” Shanahan said. “We knew he was talented. He had runs like that at Nebraska, but after that first game, you really could see after last week in practice that his mindset changed. You could tell that first game he was a little bit nervous. I think after it he realized he can play in this league. He was running hard and physical and running through tackles, and you know he’s got the speed. He’s confident. We expect to see more games like that.”
The Redskins had to project how Barry Cofield would fit into the 3-4 nose tackle position after playing on the Giants’ 4-3 front for five years. He’s exceeding expectations because of his pass rushing ability.
“There never was a great pass rusher [3-4 nose tackle],” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “The guy in Dallas [Jay Ratliff] is a heck of a football player. Barry is powerful in his frame but he’s wiry. He can slip and get off blocks, too, and get to the quarterback. He’s kind of unique the way he plays it.
“We talked to some coaches around the league who drafted him and had him before and asked what he thought and could he play in a 3-4, could he be a nose. We got a lot of positive feedback but we really didn’t know. It was one of those deals you know he can play end. He can go play left end or right end right now for us. But you don’t know about the nose because he’s never really done it but it’s worked out so far.”
Cofield’s quick hands also have helped him collapse the pocked in the first two preseason games. His presence alone has upgraded the defense as a whole because he’s also standing up to double teams and keeping linemen off the Redskins’ linebackers.
Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was a special guest at Monday’s practice, spending the afternoon at Redskins Park with his son Brady enjoying the football while also soaking in some beneficial tactics.
“There’s some great ideas that football does and I think hockey can use, and I’m sure hockey has things that football players can use,” Boudreau said. “It’s sort of like sharing knowledge, and I think it’s pretty interesting.”
Insert your playoff disappointment jokes here.
During Boudreau’s first visit to the facility out in Ashburn, prompted by an invite from special teams coach Danny Smith, he met Mike Shanahan and talked about the variety of different coaches and systems the Redskins go through. Shanahan, naturally, wanted to chat about Joe Sakic, who led the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup during the coach’s time with the Broncos.
Boudreau, who is known for getting to the rink very early in the morning, was fascinated by how football coaches have even longer days.
“I think it’d be neat if the players saw what goes on out here – just the specialized things and how the progression of practice goes and the length of it,” Boudreau said. “I thought it was quite an eye-opening experience.”
Monday’s injury news: RT Jammal Brown injured the ring finger on his right hand. He was scheduled for x-rays after practice, but Mike Shanahan did not believe it was fractured.
Shanahan said the following injured players won’t play Thursday: SS LaRon Landry (hamstring), PR/KR Brandon Banks (knee), WR Malcolm Kelly (foot) and LB Edgar Jones (concussion). DE Adam Carriker (severe heel blisters) might play.
The Redskins released RB James Davis, who was put on the reserve/left team list after leaving training camp unexpectedly on Aug. 15.