A few notes, quotes and observations from Friday morning’s practice.
The Redskins had 64 players on the field, by my count. I could be one or two off. We should get more clarity regarding names and number of players on the roster after 6 p.m., when free agents officially can sign. But for now things are a bit crazy. There’s no official roster and new faces are popping up everywhere.
As a result of the low numbers, players are taking more repetitions. That works for John Beck, who’s eager to get a head start in the quarterback competition. “I want all those reps because reps equal experience to me,” he said.
It’s dangerous to draw any significant conclusions under the circumstances—players weren’t wearing pads, and it’s Day One—but Beck looked smooth. “It’s his first day out there, and I don’t have to correct him on anything,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said.
Beck generally threw the ball well. He was on time and mostly accurate. He had Anthony Armstrong deep down the left sideline and put the ball into a tight window, but Armstrong couldn’t pull it in. One pass slipped out of Beck’s hands and short-hopped the receiver, prompting a McNabb joke from a reporter within earshot.
SS LaRon Landry sat out team drills because of lingering problems with his ailing left Achilles’ tendon. “They just want to make sure it’s fine [from] their standpoint,” Landry told reporters.
Landry can downplay the injury all he wants, but this is a significant red flag, in my opinion. The Redskins had to put him on injured reserve last season because they believed sitting him was the only way it would heal (and not completely tear). Now, seven months later, it’s still a problem. How’s it going to heal by the Sept. 11 season-opener against New York? We’ll ask coach Mike Shanahan about the injury at his 6 p.m. press conference, but this is quite an inauspicious start to Landry’s contract year.
LT Trent Williams appeared to be in good physical shape when we spoke to him on Wednesday, and that was the case on the field Friday morning. His gut is much leaner, and it’s noticeable. Unsupervised workouts during the lockout were a major test for him, and he appears to have aced it.
When I was reporting for this profile on FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, former NFL defensive backs Aeneas Williams and Corey Chavous—who train with him in the offseason—raved to me about his body control. That, they said, is a major reason why he has 18 interceptions in the last four seasons.
Well, that body control was obvious even on the first day of practice. Part of it results from knowing where to be in coverage. He also runs low and compact. On one play in team drills today, he sprinted diagonally forward today, through some flying bodies, to tag down a running back for a short gain. Keep that in mind as he gets into game action.
LOLB Ryan Kerrigan abused several guys playing right tackle. Washington’s first-round pick appears very powerful rushing off the edge. He bullied Clint Oldenburg aside with a hard slap to the upper body. That said, the Redskins’ starting right tackle—whoever it ends up being—isn’t in this camp yet, so take it for what it’s worth.
Kerrigan still had his rookie hiccups, though. He was too wide on a running play and quickly experienced the four-letter-worded wrath of linebackers coach Lou Spanos.
OL Artis Hicks is in camp looking to get rid of the sour taste with which he left last season. He was benched late in the year when he entered what he called “a slump.” His groin injury contributed to broken focus on his technique.
He spent the offseason training in his hometown of Jackson, TN. He watched film of performances that weren’t up to his standard. Hicks is aware that the Redskins agreed to terms with Chris Chester to play right guard, but he took that in stride as you’d expect from a 9-year veteran. Hicks played with the first team on Friday.
“My focus is to correct the things I screwed up last year,” he said. “I’ve just got to be more consistent from A all the way to Z. Today was a start.”