Here are some observations from Monday’s practice:
QB Robert Griffin III continues to miss throws three days ahead of his preseason debut. The inconsistency with his accuracy is not going away.
He rushed and overthrew TE Chris Cooley short over the middle. He bounced another pass at WR Santana Moss’ feet near the sideline. He was late on an intermediate out to WR Pierre Garcon, which was a bit surprising because that has been Griffin’s sharpest throw. Garcon couldn’t catch the pass in bounds.
CB Josh Wilson intercepted Griffin on a throw to the left sideline. Wilson read the receiver’s route, not Griffin, but Griffin threw to a receiver who was too closely covered.
“My man turns in to do the curl, I see the ball out, and it’s a race to the ball, first one there,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s take on Griffin: “He’s definitely improving. He’s understanding that we’re trying to bait him into some things, and he’s knowing how to tuck the ball and throw it away or get a couple yards with his feet.”
Griffin minimized the down side with some positive plays. Rolling to his right on one play, he hit Moss in stride and put him in position to run after the catch. He extended one play by stepping up in the pocket to avoid the rush and checked down to TE Chris Cooley in the right flat.
“You can always get better at footwork and all those things, and I think the film shows that I’ve been getting a lot better, whether it’s with three-step, five-step, seven step drops, footwork in the running game, all those types of things,” Griffin said.
The feature story in tomorrow paper analyzes Griffin’s timing in getting rid of the ball. Check it out here. There’s some good stuff in there from QB Rex Grossman, who recalls his progression as a first-round rookie nine years ago.
WR Josh Morgan returned to practice after missing a week with a strained left hamstring. He worked with the second string and appeared to move fairly well, staying low in and out of his breaks. He was running full speed and then sat down over the middle to catch a 7-yard throw from QB Kirk Cousins late in practice. His ability to suddenly decelerate is a good sign that his legs are OK.
WR Leonard Hankerson, who replaced Morgan while he was out, lined up in the slot on several plays in three-receiver sets, with WRs Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss on the outside. Hankerson doesn’t have the quick feet and shiftiness to really take advantage of the two-way go in the slot. That, plus his long strides, make it tougher for him to beat physical press coverage, which CB DeAngelo Hall beat him with on one pass play Monday.
RG Chris Chester left practice after mildly spraining his left ankle. Coach Mike Shanahan hopes he’s back to full fitness in a day or two.
The offensive line protecting Griffin on Thursday night could be LT Trent Williams, LG Maurice Hurt, C Will Montgomery, RG Adam Gettis and RT Tyler Polumbus. That’s, um…yeah.
QB Robert Griffin III downplayed the importance of the injuries up front. Maybe we should check back in with him around 7:30 Thursday night.
One storyline of the preseason that’s lurking in the bushes right now: DL Jarvis Jenkins has hardly demonstrated the power that made him so impressive last summer before he tore the ACL in his right knee. We’re 10 practices in to camp, and I still haven’t seen him produce a moment that reminds me of last summer.
Last year he consistently generated push and re-established the point of attack behind the line of scrimmage. His leverage was inconsistent at times, but when he stayed low, he was pretty much unstoppable. He had coaches saying he could be the team’s best defensive lineman as a rookie. We haven’t seen it so far. Watch him Thursday night and see what you think.
In two WR-two DB drills, WR Terrence Austin separated from FS Tanard Jackson on an out cut. Easy enough. But Austin used a technique that demonstrated a bit of savvy. He ran Jackson up the field about 10 yards, and when he was about to break out to the left, he put his right arm against Jackson. He not only felt where Jackson was against him, but he also used his arm to subtly push off and separate. It wasn’t obvious enough to have been called.
Austin, for me, has had a strong camp so far. He can beat press coverage and he can get in and out of his breaks with some explosiveness. He’s a smarter player in Year 3, as well.
RB Evan Royster had a couple of rough plays during pass protection drills against the linebackers. He ducked his head against LB Donnell Holt, and Holt went around him. Then LB Brian McNally engaged Royster and pulled him through when Royster leaned too far forward.
Royster was inconsistent in pass protection as a rookie, although he improved over time, particularly because of better recognition. Still, we’re not talking about LBs Brian Orakpo or Ryan Kerrigan beating him Monday. Holt and McNally are among the longest shots to make the roster.
C Will Montgomery got good enough depth on his pass set during OL-DL drills to help stop a stunt by NT Barry Cofield and DL Jarvis Jenkins. With help from RG Adam Gettis, and LG Josh LeRibeus, Montgomery stayed wide enough to cover both linemen, and didn’t overcommit to either side.
Montgomery is reliable enough at center. He anchors well in pass protection, and his run-block timing with RG Chris Chester improved as last season progressed. Worries about the offensive line should be directed elsewhere.
A veteran move by ROLB Brian Orakpo: He rushed wide on one pass play to occupy TE Chris Cooley and open up a blitzing lane inside for slot CB DeAngelo Hall. Hall raced through the hole untouched for an easy and quick sack of QB Robert Griffin III.
Fourth-round ILB Keenan Robinson smoothly opened his hips to turn and run with TE Richard Quinn on a seam route. Robinson’s coverage was good, and the pass went elsewhere.
RB Tristan Davis later outran Robinson to the sideline to get open for a reception. Robinson can run well, though. He has flashed in camp. We’ll get a better gauge of his ability to identify receivers and routes Thursday night. That’ll be the biggest hurdle for him.
WR Aldrick Robinson caught a pass from QB Kirk Cousins because he came back to the ball instead of waiting and allowing CB Kevin Barnes to make a play on him. Robinson drove back toward the quarterback about two yards, while Barnes drifted downfield. It was one of Robinson’s best moments of camp among those that aren’t on go routes.
LOLB Ryan Kerrigan consistently beat RT Tyler Polumbus by staying low and getting up into his pads. Kerrigan had Polumbus hopping on one foot during one pass rush.
RB Roy Helu ducked and whiffed on blitzing ILB Perry Riley, who got a free shot at QB Robert Griffin III. Helu later stuck his right shoulder into rushing LOLB Ryan Kerrigan, though.
Overall, the running backs haven’t been consistent pass blockers in camp. It’s a concern. It’ll be interesting to see if that improves when they have the luxury to cut-block opponents starting Thursday night.