The Washington Times - August 4, 2012, 11:59PM

Here are some observations from Saturday’s practice on Fan Appreciation Day at Redskins Park:

QB Robert Griffin III should significantly upgrade the Redskins’ offense in the red zone. Washington scored a touchdown on only 41.18 percent of its possessions inside the 20-yard line last season. Only three teams were worse.

SEE RELATED:


The dual threat Griffin presents defenses will be magnified inside the 20. Just look at what QB Cam Newton did for the Carolina Panthers last season. They went from dead last in red zone efficiency in 2010 to seventh (57.89%) in the NFL during Newton’s rookie season. Griffin doesn’t have Newton’s size, but he is a faster runner. The Redskins can run the option with various fakes and misdirection involved, and they’ll take advantage of Griffin’s arm, as well.

During team drills inside the 20 on Saturday, Griffin took the snap, raced to the edge and got around the corner of the defense for a touchdown. Griffin’s quick feet enabled him to navigate the sideline and stay in bounds. Defenses must respect his ability to run and throw, which should enable the Redskins to take advantage of certain looks. Later during red zone work, Griffin hit WR Santana Moss over the middle from the left slot for a touchdown.

Moss let LT Trent Williams throw the ball in the stands instead of carrying on the receivers’ new trend himself.

***

I thought Griffin was more accurate Saturday than he recently has been, and, generally, he got the ball out quicker and more in rhythm. One pass in particular worth describing: From the pocket, he looked left to WR Pierre Garcon, who was covered high and low by two defensive backs. Griffin quickly came off that read and progressed to WR Leonard Hankerson underneath for a completion. Griffin knew his progressions and he went through them on time to create a positive play.

***

On Friday I noted WR Leonard Hankerson’s sure hands on catches near the sideline. Well, he dropped two passes over the middle Saturday. That was a problem area of the field for him last preseason. He had the bad habit of looking downfield before he caught the ball. That was the case Saturday.

In one-on-one drills between receivers and defensive backs, Hankerson ran a slant from the left preceded by a double move. He separated from the cornerback but dropped a pass that hit his hands. The same thing happened in team drills. Hankerson said last summer his drops were a matter of concentration.

***

WR Brandon Banks continues to be quick in and out of his breaks and consistently separate from defenders. Whether it was one-on-one drills against defensive backs or an out route against CB Brandyn Thompson during team drills, Banks is difficult to cover because he is shifty.

He’ll be one of the main players to watch against Buffalo on Thursday night. How well does Banks block? How does he hold up against contact, especially over the middle?

***

Continuing with receivers, WR Aldrick Robinson got open for a touchdown during red zone work because he was patient with his route. From the left side of the formation, he faked an out against CB Brandon Thompson but then separated back to the inside. Robinson didn’t rush the out fake. Instead, he slow played it, making Thompson believe it was his only cut. Robinson easily freed himself to the inside after Thompson turned his hips to play the out route.

***

I knocked TE Fred Davis on Friday for failing to move his feet to stop a safety blitz, so he warrants mention here Saturday for a good block of OLB Brian Orakpo, who lined up on the left side of the defense on this particular play. Davis moved his feet to stay square against Orakpo, and he kept his hands inside.

The biggest difference between this play and the one Friday: Davis appeared to care about blocking.

***

LG Maurice Hurt, yes that Mo Hurt, got to the second level on a running play and blocked ILB London Fletcher to the ground. Fletcher was running toward the right sideline, and Hurt got him on a bit of an awkward step. But the block was legal and effective. Perhaps this is football’s version of the reverse lock.

***

Rookie LG Josh LeRibeus didn’t get off his block of a defensive lineman to stop ILB Bryan Kehl’s stunt on one pass play. Later, rookie CB Richard Crawford had a free shot at the quarterback on a blitz from the slot because LeRibeus, C Erik Cook and LT Tom Compton didn’t account for him.

LeRibeus’ ability to read, react and communicate with his teammates on the line should improve as he gains experience. It’s not there yet for the third-rounder.

***

Rookie RG Adam Gettis was engaged with a defensive lineman on a running play when he saw ILB Keenan Robinson charging from the left. Gettis peeled off his first block and sealed Robinson out of the play. Robinson had a better chance of making the tackle because the defensive lineman was caught in the wash, so to speak, so it was an example of good vision and awareness by Gettis.

Soon after that, Gettis anchored well in pass protection against DL Doug Worthington.

***

QB Rex Grossman hit TE Logan Paulsen on the Redskins’ famous bootleg play, where the tight end leaks out to side of the run fake. The play gives the play-side linebacker a deceiving run look, and it’s up to the tight end to get behind him. OLB Markus White misread the play, allowing Paulsen to get behind the defense. He ran it in for a long touchdown with the help of WR Brandon Banks, who sprinted downfield to block.

***

Barry Cofield and Adam Carriker were the defensive linemen on the second-string nickel package. Jarvis Jenkins and Stephen Bowen were first up.

***

The Redskins practiced the following situation: ball at midfield, 45 seconds remaining, one time out, down by 2. The second-string offense, with Kirk Cousins as quarterback, wasted about 10 seconds after a completion because TE Logan Paulsen and WR Aldrick Robinson had to switch sides of the formation. It’s best to encounter such issues during practice.

***

K Graham Gano was 6 for 7 on field goals. He hit the right post from 34 yards but made field goals of 39, 42, 44, 45, and 51 twice.

K Neil Rackers made all 7 of his field goals. He hit from 34 yards, 39, 42, 44, 45, 51 and 55.

***

There were two fights, one with punches landed.

…players are off Sunday. They practice Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is a walkthrough and travel day. Thursday is the preseason opener at Buffalo.