RICHMOND—Here are a few thoughts and observations from Redskins training camp on Friday:
Alfred Morris’ ability to set up blocks distinguishes him from other running backs. During team drills, he was about eight yards downfield in space with receiver Pierre Garcon in front of him and cornerback David Amerson in pursuit. Morris ran toward Garcon’s right shoulder, which drew Amerson to the outside. At the last possible second, Morris planted his right foot and cut behind Garcon’s left shoulder. Amerson was an easy target for Garcon, and Morris sprinted past them.
Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is having a good camp. On the first play of team drills, he got off the ball so quickly that he immediately split right tackle Tyler Polumbus and right guard Chris Chester and tackled running back Alfred Morris for a loss.
On a passing play later in the session, he got both hands into tight end Niles Paul’s chest and overpowered him with a bull rush. Kerrigan against Paul is a bit of a mismatch, but Kerrigan is consistently winning blocks against anyone he faces.
Maybe the novelty of Rex Grossman running the zone read will wear off at some point, but it hasn’t yet. The highlight of practice, for me at least, was Grossman’s zone-read keeper—more accurately, a veer play—around the right edge. Cornerback E.J. Biggers tried to split the distance between Grossman and the pitch man. Grossman faked the pitch, and Biggers bit. That opened a wide lane for Grossman, to the crowd’s—and my—delight.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III completed 13 of 17 passes during 7-on-7 drills. Of the four, two were clean drops; receiver Santana Moss couldn’t catch a high throw he got a hand on, and the other was a low ball behind receiver Aldrick Robinson.
Griffin continues to check most of his throws down, but he did connect with Robinson on a deep ball for a gain of about 50 yards. Robinson beat rookie cornerback David Amerson, although Amerson contested the catch on Robinson’s back. After the play, defensive backs coach Raheem Morris came down on safety Jordan Pugh for not staying back to defend a deep throw.
The Redskins practiced goal-line situations during team drills:
Nose tackle Barry Cofield jumped offside twice in a span of a few snaps.
Tight end Fred Davis made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone. He shows no signs of his Achilles’ tendon injury.
On a running play, tight end Jordan Reed blocked outside linebacker Rob Jackson back a yard or two. Reed stayed lower than Jackson and kept his legs driving. They were head up before the snap, so the block was similar to what Reed did in Florida’s power scheme. Let’s see how he blocks while on the move laterally against Tennessee on Thursday night.
Fullback Darrel Young showed off his speed after the catch, which is one thing coaches love about him. He caught a short pass on a bootleg and outran linebacker London Fletcher around the edge.
Cornerback Josh Wilson was in position to break up a deep ball quarterback Kirk Cousins threw to receiver Aldrick Robinson. Wilson was in man coverage and ran next to Robinson’s inside hip. But when Wilson jumped to swat the ball, he came up empty. It settled in Robinson’s grasp, a missed opportunity for the defense. Defensive backs need reps to get their timing down, just like quarterbacks.
Nose tackle Chris Neild is good inside against the run because he’s got strong legs and a low center of gravity. On one play during team drills, he held off an offensive lineman with his right arm and wrapped up the running back with his left.
The last play of practice was a Kirk Cousins-to-Niles Paul 65-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Someone on defense blew the coverage—I didn’t see who did–apparently thinking Paul was going to block instead of release. Linebackers Roddrick Muckelroy and Bryan Kehl chased after Paul, who split the defense. Cousins hit Paul in stride, then threw up his hands to celebrate.
…A programming note: Saturday is Fan Appreciation Day. According to Redskins PR, the gates open at 9, a walkthrough begins at 10:30, and practice starts at noon. Huge crowds are expected. You’ve been warned.