Here are some thoughts and observations from Friday afternoon’s Redskins practice:
QB Robert Griffin III made some good throws, and he missed others. This is who he is right now. He’s learning and working to improve.
Early in team drills, Griffin threw behind WR Aldrick Robinson over the middle after he faked a draw to the running back. Again, the mechanics of faking and then resetting to throw are a work in progress for him. There are several elements involved, including footwork, timing and throwing mechanics.
Soon after missing Robinson, though, Griffin connected with WR Leonard Hankerson on the same play. He faked the draw, reset and completed the pass. Griffin likes to say he doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and on that throw he didn’t.
Griffin later overthrew TE Logan Paulsen in the end zone during goal-line work. He had time to throw and had drifted to the left from the pocket. Paulsen was fairly well covered. Griffin tried to lead him but threw it too far.
Griffin’s arm strength is fine, but the sharpness isn’t always there – even in QB-WR drills without a defense. Some passes are behind receivers; others are a bit high; others are on target. I’m eager to hear his take on his progress when we finally get to meet with him on Monday.
Griffin’s tendency to hold the ball too long in the pocket will be a topic of conversation until we collect more data on him Thursday night against Buffalo.
He took a safety Friday when the Redskins’ offense worked from its 1-yard line. LOLB Ryan Kerrigan sacked him, but Griffin had time to get rid of the ball. He corrected it on the next throw, getting the ball out quickly to TE Chris Cooley in the right flat.
Earlier, CB DeAngelo Hall blitzed from the slot on the right side of the defense. TE Chris Cooley picked up the blitz, while WR Leonard Hankerson was open on the left sideline. Griffin didn’t see him, though, for a couple seconds. He finally completed a pass to Hankerson, but the play took too long.
QB Rex Grossman on Friday morning said he expects Griffin to speed up his reads and decision making in Thursday’s game when, unlike in practice, Griffin knows the defense can tackle him. We’ll see.
TE Chris Cooley lined up at fullback during one play on which the Redskins practiced third-and-1 situations. Cooley took the handoff and got a first down. We saw that last year in the Monday night game against Dallas, too.
Cooley’s versatility as a fullback is a significant asset in his push to make the team. If the Redskins keep one fullback, Darrel Young, Cooley could be the backup, just as Mike Sellers was last year. It gives Cooley an edge over all the other tight ends.
WR Leonard Hankerson’s hands have been reliable since he dropped a pass early in training camp. As the No. 2 receiver with Josh Morgan (hamstring) out until Monday, Hankerson has lined up outside and caught most of his passes near the sideline or at least outside the hash marks.
There haven’t been many opportunities for Hankerson to run after the catch, which is when he had drop problems in the past. He would take his eyes off the ball and look downfield before he secured the catch. Near the boundary the last few days, he has caught everything.
RB Evan Royster took the first snap with the first-string during team drills. Just an update as we creep toward Thursday’s preseason opener at Buffalo.
FS Tanard Jackson should have intercepted QB Kirk Cousins’ lob to WR Terrence Austin on a corner route to the left sideline. Jackson read Austin, who was his responsibility, and closed well while Cousins’ throw hung up a bit. Jackson undercut the route at the sideline, but the ball went through his hands.
Jackson got burned later in practice when he tried to undercut a pass to RB Roy Helu near the right sideline. He was a step late after Cousins pump-faked, and Helu caught it for an uncontested catch-and-run touchdown.
Jackson is working back from a calf injury, so practice is the time to determine which routes he can jump and which he can’t. But if he’s this aggressive in the games, things are going to be very interesting with him in the deep secondary.
QB Kirk Cousins kept his shoulders turned perpendicular to the line of scrimmage as he rolled to his right on one broken pass play during team drills. He stayed in a good throwing position and thus was able to unload accurately to his checkdown option, RB Alfred Morris.
TE Fred Davis told reporters early Friday afternoon that he has grown as a blocker. He didn’t show that in practice, though, when he whiffed on FS Madieu Williams’ blitz from the secondary. Davis didn’t move his feet on the play. He feebly reached for Williams, who wasn’t at all impeded on his free run to QB Robert Griffin.
If Davis catches 70 passes and 8 touchdowns, his blocking deficiencies would take a backseat. But Davis has to prove he’s a complete tight end this season. Words don’t mean anything.
The defensive line reserves destroyed the backup offensive line on consecutive plays during goal-line drills. DLs Chris Baker, Darrion Scott and Doug Worthington re-established the line of scrimmage four yards back against C Erik Cook, G Josh LeRibeus and others. Baker got under Cook’s pads, pancaked him and then stood over him to taunt him. It was domination.
Baker has flashed against the Redskins’ reserves. It’s time to see him against better competition.
C Will Montgomery snapped a low shotgun snap that QB Robert Griffin had to catch at his shins. It wasn’t Montgomery’s first errant or slow shotgun snap of camp, either. This was an issue last season, as well.
The unintentional comedic highlight of practice: QB Kirk Cousins running the option from the Redskins’ own 1-yard line. He pitched to the running back (whose identity escaped me because I was in such disbelief), but OLB Chris Wilson tackled him for a safety. Here’s thinking Cousins will never run the option in a game.
The best hit goes to FB Dorson Boyce who plowed ILB Lorenzo Alexander after a short reception. Alexander tried to wrap Boyce up, but Boyce bulldozed through and ran at least another 50 yards before being chased down. Boyce hasn’t impressed as a blocker, but he showed great power on that play.