Here are some thoughts and observations from Monday’s practice, the second-to-last session of training camp.
QB Robert Griffin III and the Baylor offense consistently used a fast tempo to put pressure on opposing defenses. There are several ways to do that (no-huddle, for example), but the important components include a good rhythm calling the play and getting to the line of scrimmage quickly.
Griffin is familiar with those elements, and he believes the Redskins excelled in that area in Thursday’s preseason win over Buffalo.
“Tempo is important,” Griffin said. “I thought our tempo was extremely good, even on the two drives that we went three-and-out on. I think getting to the line and kind of pressing the defense to make sure they’re ready at all times for whatever we’re going to bring is going to be something we can use to our advantage.”
Tempo was a problem in 2010 because QB Donovan McNabb did not command the playbook at the level Redskins coaches desired. Griffin is a rookie, but he’s ahead of where McNabb was at this point in camp. It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks how the offense presses the defense with Griffin in the game. If having a rookie quarterback doesn’t require the Redskins to sacrifice tempo, they’re that much better off.
Griffin explained his growing comfort calling audibles. Read the details: here.
Let’s update the injuries before getting into the details of practice.
LT Trent Williams (left foot) and RG Chris Chester participated in individual drills. They hope to play Saturday against Chicago. From talking to both of them, I’d say Chester has a better chance than Williams.
RB Roy Helu Jr. sat out with Achilles tendonitis. Coach Mike Shanahan said this is a recurrence of a past problem.
ILB London Fletcher took a veteran’s day off, Shanahan said.
NT Chris Neild left practice after injuring his left knee. He’ll have an MRI.
WR Anthony Armstrong (right shoulder) participated in team drills in a non-contact jersey.
G Maurice Hurt (inflamed left knee tendon) sat out team drills.
CB Morgan Trent (shoulder/knee) also sat out.
There’s no news to report on FB Darrel Young (hamstring), LG Kory Lichtensteiger (right knee) or RT Jammal Brown (hips).
Helu’s Achilles tendonitis is the latest muscular injury that has cost him practice time. A hamstring strain forced him out of practice in June.
“A guy like that, you have to make sure he’s loose before he practices because you don’t want to pull anything,” Shanahan said. “He’s had a couple strains in the groin and hamstring area, and tendonitis right there. Sometimes those hybrids, they pull a hamstring or a groin.”
Injuries never cost Helu game time at Nebraska, but he’s beginning to establish a bit of an injury history at the pro level. It’s something to continue monitoring.
WR Dezmon Briscoe is playing faster now that he has been in the Redskins’ system for more than two weeks. On Saturday, he made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone during red-zone drills.
He is beginning to separate more consistently from defensive backs, albeit second- and third-stringers. His size (6-2, 210) sets him apart from other receivers near the bottom of the depth chart. I’m eager to see him against better competition now that he’s more acclimated to the Redskins’ scheme. He’s an intriguing prospect, considering his six touchdown catches for Tampa Bay last season.
I’m interested to see if WR Terrence Austin ever gets the type of attention WR Brandon Banks got against Buffalo last Thursday. The Redskins scheme spreads the ball around based on the defense, so it’s not as though coaches called for Banks to be targeted nine times. But Banks was, and he did not show particularly well.
On Monday, Banks dropped a certain touchdown pass after he beat CB Josh Wilson on a double move. The ball hit his shoulder pads and bounced away. Banks also did not cleanly catch a throw to the sideline. He bobbled it first, and he was noticeably frustrated after the play.
Austin, meanwhile, successfully blocked SS Brandon Meriweather inside on one run and he beat CB DeAngelo Hall inside for a reception out of the slot.
If Austin doesn’t make the Redskins’ final roster, he should end up on somewhere. He’s smart, he’s quick and he’s got good hands. There’s a place for him on someone’s roster.
Fourth-round rookie ILB Keenan Robinson during camp has repeatedly proven he can turn and run well in pass coverage. During team drills Monday, he ran to his right as TE Richard Quinn sprinted up the seam. And when Quinn broke to the post, Robinson smoothly opened his hips to stay stride-for-stride with Quinn. The pass went elsewhere.
When you think about which tight ends are going to make the final roster, don’t just consider Logan Pauslen a blocking tight end. Tight ends coach Sean McVay last week called Paulsen an underrated receiver, and his opinion counts.
Paulsen had two receptions during team drills Monday. He beat S Jordan Bernstine on a crossing route. Earlier, he outran ILB Donnell Holt down the seam. I wouldn’t say Paulsen is on Chris Cooley’s level as a pass catcher, but that part of his game shouldn’t be discounted.
Several defensive backs made plays during team drills. CB Kevin Barnes disrupted the timing of WR Pierre Garcon’s fade/go route into the end zone by jamming him at the line of scrimmage. Barnes is a physical corner who figures to benefit from moving to the outside, especially if the scheme calls for him to press receivers out there.
CB Cedric Griffin located the ball and timed his jump perfectly to break up QB Kirk Cousins’ fade to WR Josh Morgan on the right sideline. And SS Brandon Meriweather outjumped WR Terrence Austin to intercept Cousins, whose throwing motion was impeded by an offensive lineman that was pushed back into him.
Neil Rackers badly beat Graham Gano in the head-to-head field goals portion of practice. Rackers made all nine attempts, while Gano was only 5-for-9.
Rackers hit from 20 yards, 32, 37, 41 49, 51, 53 and 57. Gano missed wide left from 32, 49 and 59 and wide right from 53.
The Redskins did not attempt a field goal in Thursday’s game against Buffalo. I suppose that missed opportunity adds more weight to other kicking showcases such as Monday’s.
WR Anthony Armstrong finished practice by reaching over his head to catch a touchdown from QB Kirk Cousins. That’s a sign his sprained right shoulder is almost back to full health.