Here are some notes, quotes and observations from the third and final day of the Redskins’ informal players-only minicamp.
The obligatory disclaimer: There were no pads, no helmets, no coaches, etc. It’s May, and it’s informal. Please take these observations for what they’re worth.
>>Here’s a perfect example of what the Redskins accomplished during the last three days. During team red-zone work on Thursday, quarterback John Beck threw hot to a receiver on the right, but cornerback DeAngelo Hall jumped the route for an easy interception that would have been a 90-something-yard touchdown return.
Beck immediately went to Hall and asked, “What did you see that made you squat on that route?”
Here’s Beck’s account of what happened. I transcribed all of it for you because it’s good stuff:
“I’m throwing hot right there,” Beck said. “That’s a play where I’m unprotected. If we’re gonna pick up the backer, the safety is coming free, so I have to get the ball out of my hand before I get knocked in the chin. In any offense there’s hot throws. You know you’re unprotected. You have to get the ball out quick.
“When you’re playing a veteran guy like DeAngelo, he knows that stuff. So I said, ‘What were you playing there?’ We’re always taught when you get the blitz, throw into the blitz because that’s where the holes are at. He said, ‘Well, I’m watching you and I’m anticipating if you go quick three-step, I know you’re getting the ball out quick, so I can squat.’
“Now it’s a huge gamble because if for some reason we have a ‘go’ route on and he’s caught flat-footed, we’re running by him. He gambled, and that’s why the dude has games like when he picked four balls against Chicago. He makes some sneaky plays. He got me.”
And then here’s where these practices fall short of what the Redskins would be doing in the offseason if there weren’t a lockout:
“Here’s what would be ideal,” Beck said. “We’re sitting in a room with [offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan], with [quarterbacks coach] Matt [LaFleur] as a quarterback unit watching the tape saying, ‘You know what? Defense won right there. DeAngelo got us.’
“Now is that a situation where we’re stuck as a quarterback? Because I did what I was supposed to. They’re bringing a guy unblocked. That’s the hot, get the ball out. It would be good to be there with Kyle and say, ‘What can we do here?’ This guy [Hall] obviously played it perfect. What can we do? Because those situations come up in the game.
“My answer now would be that now that I know that could be a situation, if I come out of there and maybe feel he’s flat-footed trying to jump something, I just chuck it out of bounds.”
Beck wanted to tape the workouts and even packed some personal video equipment before he departed San Diego, but the logistics of setting it all up and getting guys together to watch film proved too difficult.
>>For what it’s worth, receiver Anthony Armstrong ran by Hall on a double move earlier in practice. It resulted in a deep touchdown throw from Rex Grossman. Indeed, these workouts are the time for players such as Hall to see what they can get away with in the defensive backfield.
>>Another quick example of how these workouts were productive: Rookie receiver Niles Paul incorrectly ran his route to the flag during a red-zone play. The play broke down and quarterback Rex Grossman had to eat the ball. After it was over, Grossman corrected him on the terminology, which actually called for Paul to run to the post.
>>Inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh participated in each of the three workouts. He has five years of NFL service, which means he’s one of hundreds of players league-wide whose free-agent status will be determined by parameters established by a new collective bargaining agreement, whenever that might be.
Some Redskins in a similar contract situation, such as cornerback Carlos Rogers, safety Reed Doughty and linebacker H.B. Blades did not attend the workouts for whatever reason, but McIntosh was eager to join his teammates. I wondered if, like quarterback Rex Grossman, he was encouraged by coaches to work out with Redskins players this offseason and is under the assumption the team will re-sign him. He assured me that is not the case.
“It’s just like high school, just out here having fun, throwing the football around,” McIntosh said. “Why not? A lot of guys are scared they might get hurt, but you might get hurt when you have a contract. It really don’t matter to me, man. I’m just out here enjoying myself.
“I don’t really care about assurance because if they don’t want me or not, I’m still a free agent. Somebody is going to want me, and I did pretty well, so I’m confident in the next step I’ll take. I don’t worry about that, though. I’m just out here trying to help the guys. Even if I’m not here, I’m willing to help the other guys.”
If McIntosh isn’t back next season, a candidate to replace him could be Lorenzo Alexander. Alexander has continued to lose weight this offseason, and he lined up at times on Thursday as an inside linebacker. On one play during team drills, Alexander turned his back to the line of scrimmage, sprinted 45 yards down the middle and broke up a deep pass intended for tight end Fred Davis. Not bad for a former defensive tackle.
>>Running back Ryan Torain took notice when the Redskins released Clinton Portis in February, but he doesn’t consider himself a lock to replace Portis at the top of the depth chart.
“My outlook is the same as last year—go out there and do what the coaches ask, try to make plays and do what you can to make the team win,” he said.
Durability and availability are still major points of emphasis for Torain, who missed four games last season with a hamstring injury. He has incorporated jumping hurdles into his offseason training routine as a way to build leg and hip strength.
“I want to prove any and every question wrong,” he said.
>>Seventh-round pick Chris Neild appears to be an intriguing nose tackle prospect. He’s 319 pounds but only 6-feet-2. His shorter, squatty build should help him maintain a low center of gravity at the point of attack. (It was impossible to tell this week because no one wore pads and there was no hitting.) In contrast, last year’s starting nose tackle, Ma’ake Kemoeatu, is 6-5.
“He’s what some people would describe as ‘prototypical,’” said defensive lineman Kedric Golston, who worked one-on-one with Neild all week. “You can tell that’s what he wants to do. He wants to sit up there and put his face in the fan, like one of my old coaches used to say.”
Neild at least has the look of a gritty, nose tackle. He has a shaved head to go along with his bushy beard. He also has that selfless attitude and high-energy motor required from the anchor of a 3-4 front.
“I’m going to do what I can to make the team,” Neild said. “Whatever impact I can make as far as helping the team out, that’s what I’m going to try to do. I have played nose guard my whole career at West Virginia. It’s something I’m definitely familiar with, and hopefully those talents that I had at West Virginia I can bring here.”
Neild made a positive impression on Golston with his ability to retain lessons about the defensive scheme.
“It was a pleasure to work with him this weekend because he picked it up real quickly,” Golston said. “He played [at West Virginia] in a 3-3-5, so he has the basis of this defense. For the first time, he picked it up well. I think him being out here is really going to help him when football does get started because he won’t be thinking so much. Instead of [defensive line] coach [Jacob] Burney getting down his throat, I can say, ‘This is how you do this,’ and get him on the same page with terminology.”
>> Golston is another Redskin facing contract murkiness. Like Rocky McIntosh, he has five years of service time. The Redskins tendered him as a restricted free agent at the second-round level earlier this offseason, Golston said. That could come into play if the NFL does business under 2010 free agency rules.
Golston made it clear that he does not want to join another team.
“I’m a Redskin,” he said. “They drafted me. This is my organization. This is my home base. I’m going to be a Redskin until somebody tells me otherwise. These are my guys out here. It’s a pleasure of mine to come out here and help Chris and hopefully be a part of what I know is going to happen around here, which is going to be winning a lot of football games and turning this thing around.”
If Golston is back, he’ll have a serious fight for playing time with second-round pick JarvisJenkins, who was one of the two draft picks that did not attend these workouts.
>>Cornerback Kevin Barnes intercepted at least two passes during the three practices. The former third-round pick got a lot of gain entering his third season, especially if cornerback Carlos Rogers departs in free agency.
>>Thirty-nine players attended today’s practice, but only 37 participated. Tight end Chris Cooley and running back Andre Brown attended but were bystanders.
Tight end Fred Davis and running back Ryan Torain participated after missing Wednesday.
Running back Keiland Williams, safeties Chris Horton and Anderson Russell and defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon did not attend Thursday after attending Wednesday.
Players said another set of practices is tentatively scheduled for next month.
Here’s the list of Thursday’s attendees.
* indicates rookie
(Parenthesis) indicates attended by did not participate
QB: John Beck, Rex Grossman
RB: Ryan Torain, Roy Helu Jr.*, Evan Royster*, (Andre Brown)
FB: Mike Sellers, Darrel Young
WR: Anthony Armstrong, Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Leonard Hankerson*, Niles Paul*
TE: (Chris Cooley), Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen
OL: Casey Rabach, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Erik Cook, Selvish Capers, Clint Oldenburg, Maurice Hurt*
DL: Kedric Golston, Chris Neild*
LB: London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Lorenzo Alexander, Chris Wilson, Ryan Kerrigan*, Edgar Jones, Markus White*, Rob Jackson
CB: DeAngelo Hall, Kevin Barnes, Brandyn Thompson*
S: DeJon Gomes*, Kareem Moore
K: Graham Gano