Some thoughts and observations from Monday at Redskins Park:
QB Robert Griffin III held his weekly media session Monday, and you’ll find his quotes sprinkled throughout our coverage over the next couple days.
I’ve mentioned his inconsistency on throws rolling out to his left. Well, Griffin provided some good insight Monday about what that throw requires. I wrote about that in the feature for Tuesday’s paper, which you can read here.
It turns out that Redskins quarterbacks are practicing that particular throw during position drills more than they have since Mike Shanahan and his staff arrived in 2010. The staff identified that throw as an area that needed improvement, hence the emphasis.
Griffin has improved making that throw since camp began. He hit TE Fred Davis in stride while rolling left during team drills on Monday.
Another one of Griffin’s throws to Davis stood out. Griffin was pressured from his blind side, and he bought time by by rolling to his right. He threw off balance to Davis who was wide open. It was an example of how Griffin can extend plays with his feet.
Twice Griffin bounced quick throws over the middle because his feet weren’t sent. He was faced with heavy pressure both times, and he was too rushed with his throwing mechanics.
LG Kory Lichtensteiger on Monday had arthroscopic surgery to remove “particles” from his right knee, coach Mike Shanahan said. That’s the same knee in which Steigs tore the ACL, MCL and medial and lateral meniscus last Oct. 16.
Lichtensteiger is expected to play in the regular-season opener at New Orleans on Sept. 9, but he could come back sooner, Shanahan said, because surgery revealed the ACL and MCL are OK. Shanahan doesn’t need to see Lichtensteiger play in a preseason game in order to put him back in the starting lineup for the regular opener, he said. Watching him in practice would suffice.
Lichtensteiger had been experiencing knee soreness, which doesn’t bode well going forward. At the very least, this is a concern that warrants monitoring indefinitely.
Shanahan lauded the line’s depth Monday and expressed confidence in Maurice Hurt, who replaced Lichtensteiger with the first string during practice. But Hurt struggled last season as a rookie. He was pushed back too frequently, and stunts too often were problematic. And just because Hurt played last year doesn’t mean he’ll be better this season.
Hurt and third-round rookie Josh LeRibeus will split time in replacing Lichtensteiger, but neither represents a welcome scenario for the Redskins at this stage is LeRibeus’ career. More below on how LeRibeus fared in one-on-one drills.
FB Darrel Young left practice with a hamstring injury. Young is still at a point on his learning curve where experience significantly helps him, but he won’t be useful if he’s fighting the hamstring all season. His speed as a receiver out of the backfield is quite an asset, so it would be best if the Redskins hold Young out for as long as he needs – plus a week.
It will be interesting to see how much sixth-round pick Alfred Morris plays fullback in Young’s absence. FB Dorson Boyce is an extremely long shot to make the final roster.
More injury news, and it’s only Day 4 of camp. OT Willie Smith injured his left knee when OLB Rob Jackson ran over him during one-on-one drills. We’re talking steamrolled, folks. Jackson bull-rushed Smith and got into him so hard that he fell to his backside. Smith’s leg was caught under his own weight. It was ugly.
Veteran James Lee played some left tackle with the second string in Smith’s absence. Lee tends to play too high, and at this point he doesn’t appear to be a reassuring option.
While we’re on the subject of tackles, the Redskins really could use some good news from RT Jammal Brown’s visit to the hip doctor Tuesday.
The Redskins signed veteran OT Jordan Black on Monday when they released ILB Jonathan Goff, who re-tore the ACL in his right knee on Saturday.
After Monday’s practice, Shanahan was asked whether the Redskins will look to sign more veteran linemen because of the mounting injuries.
“No, those guys aren’t out there,” he said. If they were out there and we thought somebody was better than the people we had, we would have tried to get those players.”
Let’s move on to Monday’s practice. Players wore shoulder pads, which meant hitting in one-on-one drills.
Running backs ran blitz pickup drills against linebackers. RB Roy Helu Jr. leaned into OLB Ryan Kerrigan with his inside shoulder instead of squaring him up, and that allowed Kerrigan to avoid the brunt of the block and get past Helu. Pass blocking is extremely important for Helu if he’s playing the role of third-down back. He improved as his rookie season progressed, but it merits watching all summer.
Offensive line coach Chris Foerster coached up rookie LG Josh LeRibeus on his first step after DL Chris Baker swam through him in one-on-one drills. Foerster had LeRibeus immediately get back into the drill to correct the mistake, and he was beaten the second time because he set too high.
I haven’t noticed DE Jarvis Jenkins generating the type of consistent push that he did in camp last summer before the knee injury. That doesn’t mean it’s not there; I just haven’t seen it on the plays I’ve watched. He slipped against C Will Montgomery in one-on-one drills, and Monty pinned him to the ground. I’ll keep an eye on him during team drills this week.
LT Trent Williams doesn’t normally swallow rushers like RT Jammal Brown can, but Williams did that to OLB Brian Orakpo during one-on-one drills. Orakpo likes to try to get into a tackle’s chest, and he got off the ball fast enough to get into Williams. Williams basically bear-hugged him – it didn’t look like it would’ve been flagged for holding – and slowed him down.
OLB Chris Wilson went around RT Tyler Polumbus with an outside speed rush and two-handed slap when Polumbus was bent at the waist. That was a problem for Polumbus at times last season, too. At 6-8, bending at the knees and staying low is that much tougher.
QB Kirk Cousins took second-team reps Monday, part of the scheduled timeshare with QB Rex Grossman. Cousins has fine arm strength, but he must improve his accuracy and decision making.
He didn’t see ILB London Fletcher in position to undercut a short throw to the left late in practice, and Fletcher intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown.
At this point, Grossman is the best option behind QB Robert Griffin III.
Rookie CB Richard Crawford intercepted Cousins earlier in the session by playing a ball intended for WR Anthony Armstrong. Crawford was close enough to Armstrong’s back that he tipped the ball up and then caught it as he fell to the ground.
Crawford has at least two interceptions in camp. His instincts have been very good on the ball. Also, he ran stride-for-stride with WR Santana Moss on a deep incompletion on Saturday. It seems he has some quality cover skills, and there’s room at the bottom of the cornerbacks depth chart for him.
On the other hand, second-year CB Brandyn Thompson gave up a completion on a slant to WR Aldrick Robinson. He also held WR Anthony Armstrong inside the neck of Armstrong’s shoulder pads – an obvious penalty – in an attempt to jam Armstrong at the line. Thompson must make more plays on the ball to keep up with Crawford.
First-string FS Madieu Williams is heralded as a smart player. The questions about him involve the physical aspects of the game. One play Monday served as a reminder of that.
QB Robert Griffin III hit WR Terrence Austin deep down the left sideline during team drills. Austin beat CB Josh Wilson by a step, and Williams was two steps late in arriving over the top. It’s something to watch during the preseason games. Remember, Mike Shanahan says he can’t fairly evaluate running backs and safeties until the games.
Niles Paul’s blocking is a critical element of his transition to tight end. He engaged second-year OLB Markus White on a running play during team drills, and he wasn’t sent in motion before the snap. The Redskins like to send Paul in motion and sometimes have him block backside defenders.
White tried to pull Paul forward and throw him off, but Paul latched on. Picture a bull-rider tried to stay on the bucking bull. Paul didn’t displace White, but he at least kept him engaged.
S Reed Doughty dropped a potential interception of a Kirk Cousins pass. He was inside the intended receiver, who was streaking down the right seam. Doughty got both hands on the ball, but it was a little bit behind him. It popped up in the air, WR Anthony Armstrong caught it and ran for a big gain. Meanwhile, Doughty did 10 push-ups. It was his second dropped interception in as many practices.
Speaking of safeties, FS Tanard Jackson (calf) was reinstated to the active roster from the active/physically-unable-to-perform list, but new CBA rules prevented him from practicing with the team so soon after coming off the PUP list. He should practice Wednesday.
The Redskins practice every day through Saturday, so there will be practice reports all week.