RICHMOND—The first practice of training camp equated to a glorified OTA. The collective bargaining agreement between the league and players union prohibits the Redskins from practicing in pads until Saturday, so the tempo will increase soon. With that in mind, here are some thoughts and observation from Thursday:
Quarterback Robert Griffin III moved similarly to when we last saw him in mid June. The bulky knee brace on his surgically repaired right knee is awkward. It affects his stride a bit, more so, it seems, when he walks than runs.
On one repetition during position drills, he planted hard on his right leg as he faked a handoff, and then changed direction and rolled right on a bootleg. I hadn’t seen him plant that hard on it since the injury. He later threw a pass behind receiver Pierre Garcon, which, in hindsight, shouldn’t stand out because all four quarterbacks had timing issues on Day 1. Overall, the strength of his core and arm muscles helps compensate for any lack of leg drive he might experience as he continues to work back.
Tight end Fred Davis (left Achilles’ tendon) held the point of attack on separate plays while run blocking laterally in both directions. Keep in mind, though, players weren’t wearing full pads. I never saw him plant his left foot hard to cut on a pass route during team drills.
For Davis, anchoring blocks (sustaining weight on his legs) and cutting are the greatest physical stresses on his Achilles. He’s fully recovered, he and coach Mike Shanahan insisted, so any problems would be surprising. Davis appeared to run smoothly at full speed.
Inside linebacker Keenan Robinson was injured on what appeared to be an innocuous play over the middle; more innocuous, at least, than the tackle on which he was hurt against Dallas on Thanksgiving. He just got tangled up a bit and went down, then got back up favoring his left shoulder. It didn’t appear serious until trainers and a team doctor reacted.
NFL Network reported late Thursday night that his left pectoral muscle is torn—the opposite side from last year’s pec tear—and that he’s expected to miss the season. We’ll get confirmation on that Friday. Robinson and head athletic trainer Larry Hess left the field together immediately after practice, and Robinson declined to speak with reporters.
Losing Robinson would be huge from a developmental standpoint. He’s in line to help replace London Fletcher as soon as next season, and this would be his second season-ending pectoral injury in eight months. The Redskins like Robinson in coverage because of his length, athleticism and intelligence. He needs seasoning, though, especially given the alignment responsibilities required of inside linebackers in this defense.
Free safety Bacarri Rambo practiced with the first-string defense, quite an opportunity for a sixth-round rookie. It’s difficult to evaluate safeties in non-tackling situations, as Shanahan often says, because tackling technique and angles are such important parts of that role.
For what it’s worth, he twice helped cornerback DeAngelo Hall in coverage outside the numbers on deep passes to receiver Aldrick Robinson. One pass was incomplete, and Robinson pushed off against Hall on the other for what obviously would have been a pass interference penalty. Rambo isn’t known for elite range in pass coverage. Reads and knowledge of opposing offenses must help him compensate for his speed. He declared himself to be a “film junkie” after Thursday’s morning’s walkthrough, so we’ll see how quickly that helps.
The low level at which rookie tight end Jordan Reed runs stood out to me. He is listed at 6-2, which, now that I look it up, I’m surprised is so short. He looks taller. Anyway, he bends his knees well and leans forward when he runs, both signs of his exceptional athleticism. Two things to monitor throughout camp: how he blocks and how well he knows his responsibilities.
Running back Roy Helu Jr. practiced with the second-string punt protection unit. For those in battles for roster spots this time of year, any special teams contributions can’t hurt.
Left outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Darryl Tapp each pushed the pocked during team drills by staying lower than right tackle Tyler Polumbus and getting their hands up into his body. These battles are more fun to watch—and more telling—when the pads come out.
Speaking of right tackles, Jeremy Trueblood won’t be confused with Trent Williams when it comes to running in space. At 6-8, he labored in his strides on separate plays during team drills. Whether that is just a first-day-of-camp issue, we’ll see.
Fifth-round rookie running back Chris Thompson, who practiced without a brace protecting his surgically-repaired left knee, has a great initial burst—something he established at Florida St. He isn’t just fast on the second level. As he gets comfortable on the knee, we should expect to see more elusiveness.