Here are some notes, quotes and observations from Redskins informal minicamp on Tuesday. This was the first of three practices this week and the team’s sixth overall this offseason.
I’d like to remind you of the same disclaimer I harped on last month. These are informal workouts in every sense of the word. No coaches, no contact, no helmets, no pads. It’s a bunch of men running around in t-shirts and shorts throwing the football. Draw significant conclusions at your own risk.
>>Quarterback John Beck hopes to increase the value of this week’s workouts by having them filmed.
Players’ inability to analyze tape of the previous five informal practices limited what they could get out of the sessions, several said. Beck hopes to have solved that problem after hiring a friend from his church to video the practices.
“I was hoping he’d be a little bit higher up so we could get a better view because you have to be able to critique yourself,” Beck said. “From field level you don’t always know. We have 11 guys on defense and a line in front of us and people running all over the place. You try to get the best read that you can, but you want to go back on tape and … see things and talk about it.”
Official practices at team headquarters under normal circumstances always are taped and analyzed. Beck originally planned to bring personal video equipment to last month’s informal practices, but logistical problems ultimately deterred him. There wasn’t anyone to operate the cameras, and organizing post-practice viewing sessions was too difficult.
Beck continues to demonstrate initiative as he positions himself to compete for the Redskins’ starting quarterback job once the NFL achieves labor peace.
After the draft, he called several new draft picks to answer questions and discuss elements of the team’s offensive scheme. He also distributed to them copies of the playbook.
And when rookie receiver Leonard Hankerson told Beck that he would be in his home town of San Diego last month, Beck arranged for them to meet and practice routes.
Beck’s friend recently returned from a Mormon mission and is trying to save money to attend college. Beck figured he’d help his buddy and his team.
>>Fourth-year receiver Malcolm Kelly went through a detailed stretching routine before taking the field Tuesday. He’s well aware that his Redskins tenure might not survive another hamstring pull.
Seeing Kelly today reminded me why coach Mike Shanahan opted to keep him around on injured reserve last season instead of releasing him. His combination of size and hands are unique among this receiving corps. If Kelly doesn’t ace the eye test, he’s darn close.
Kelly’s teammates seemed glad to have him back after his missed last month’s minicamp. He caught a pass down the seam during warm-ups and someone yelled “OK, Big Kelly!!”
Kelly has been catching passes from John Beck since he was healthy enough to run last fall. The two got together in recent days to throw in advance of Tuesday’s practice.
“I know that he’s worked extremely hard to get back to this spot, and he’s hungry,” Beck. “That’s a good thing.”
Getting anything out of Kelly this season would be a bonus. His size (6-foot-4, 226 pounds) allows him to separate from defenders with just his hands and arms. Not only does that make him more available to quarterbacks, but it helps him clean up any passes that are a bit off target. If he’s healthy (Kelly won’t be able to shake that line anytime soon), that could easily make him a favorite target of whoever is quarterbacking.
He’s got to get the rust off, though, after missing all of last season. Beck mentioned how Kelly will sometimes break his route at 12 yards when the play calls for 11. That’s a big difference, Beck conceded.
Kelly’s size sometimes hurts his ability to get in and out of breaks quickly, and that’s something we’ll keep an eye on if training camp ever happens.
>>Outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan met for the first time today. Their relationship is very important to the Redskins defense, as Orakpo will help guide the rookie through his transition from defensive end.
“I told him it’s going to be tough, man,” Orakpo said. “I had my times when I was frustrated and I wanted to put my hand back in the dirt and go. It’s something he’s going to have to learn, the 3-4. It’s a very challenging defense, a lot of terminology and lingo that goes with it. Then he’s standing up and seeing receivers, running backs and making calls.”
The linebackers warmed up by practicing their drops and opening their hips, and it was clear how Kerrigan excelled in the linebacker drills at the combine. He wasn’t going full-speed and he wasn’t wearing pads, so take it for what it’s worth, but his movements were smooth.
After the first day with Orakpo, Kerrigan already had Lesson No. 1 memorized: “Staying low in your stance,” he said. “That’s one adjustment that’s really hard for guys because when you’re on two feet you’re standing up and more upright, so really bending your knees and coming out low is a big thing in this position.”
>>Orakpo has been working on adding moves to his pass-rushing arsenal. We’ve all seen his effective bull rush, but what additions should we expect in 2011?
“We’ll see,” he said with a sly smile. No shared secrets, I guess, even in June during the lockout.
>>Linebacker London Fletcher began the defense’s practice by reviewing what they worked on last month.
That helped jog Kerrigan’s memory of the Redskins’ plays and concepts.
“I felt a little more comfortable coming out of the stance and with my assignment,” he said.
>>Sixth-round rookie receiver Aldrick Robinson joined his teammates for the first time. He intended to participate in last month’s minicamp, but problems with his flight and traffic kept him away.
The quality of his hands stood out to me. He wrestled one pass away from cornerback Kevin Barnes and made another nice catch in a tight space near the sideline on an out route. He also got behind inside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander for a deep touchdown catch.
“It felt like this is where I’m supposed to be,” Robinson said.
>>Speaking of hands, Barnes warrants mention here for a drop. After Brandon Banks caught a pitch on an end-around, Alexander and Kedric Golston surrounded him in the backfield and forced him to throw up a prayer. Barnes camped out underneath the ball but jumped to catch it, and it slipped through his fingers. He immediately did 10 pushups.
>>Seventh-round rookie offensive lineman Maurice Hurt got downfield in a hurry on a screen pass and blocked London Fletcher. Hurt’s agility surprised me because—how can I put this nicely?—he’s rather fleshy. It stands to reason that he fits Shanahan’s mold of agile, athletic linemen, so it’ll be interesting to see how he holds up when pads are on and temperatures are up.
>>Some offensive line positional notes: Selvish Capers played left tackle with Trent Williams absent; Will Montgomery and Kory Lichtensteiger alternated at center with no Casey Rabach.
>>Thirty-one players attended and all participated to some extent. There were six rookies. Here’s the breakdown:
QB: John Beck, Rex Grossman
RB: Ryan Torain, Evan Royster, Chad Simpson, Keiland Williams
FB: Mike Sellers, Darrel Young
WR: Brandon Banks, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson
TE: Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen
OL: Selvish Capers, Maurice Hurt, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Clint Oldenburg
DL: Kedric Golston, Chris Neild
LB: Lorenzo Alexander, London Fletcher, Rob Jackson, Ryan Kerrigan, Rocky McIntosh, Brian Orakpo
CB: Kevin Barnes
S: DeJon Gomes, Chris Horton, Anderson Russell