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Question of the Day
Anthony Alridge caught Jason Campbell’s pass, turned upfield and showed his elusiveness by faking out a linebacker on his way to a first down. But then he fumbled and safety Kareem Moore recovered, one of two offensive turnovers in the Washington Redskins’ intrasquad scrimmage Saturday afternoon.
The play epitomized the first 10 days of on-field training camp activity for the Redskins.
The offense does something good but then makes a mistake in the form of a fumble, a missed assignment up front, a deflected pass downfield or a botched handoff. And the opportunistic defense capitalizes.
As the Redskins continue camp with a double session Sunday and begin looking toward Thursday’s preseason opener at Baltimore, the first 13 full-squad practices have confirmed the defensive additions should make a good group even better and that injuries and a lack of offensive line depth have stunted the offense’s progress.
A 57-play scrimmage at Redskin Park only accentuated the progress - or lack there of - made by the two units.
“What’s most encouraging is the way our defense is playing and the way our defense is putting good practices together,” coach Jim Zorn said. “In our practices, you don’t see a lot of people running free. You see a swarming type of defense. The team speed and athleticism has improved.
“There’s a comfort zone on offense from the standpoint of knowing more offense, but the thing we need to work on most is our pass protection, because that’s going to be a bit of an issue until we can get all those guys out there healthy, working hard and getting reps.”
Injuries have hampered the offense, and until the Redskins get day after day of work with the starting 11 and top reserve skill players, the defense will continue to hold the advantage.
Santana Moss (hamstring), Devin Thomas (hamstring), Randy Thomas (knee), Stephon Heyer (knee) and Malcolm Kelly (hamstring) didn’t participate and Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley were held out to rest. That’s two starting offensive linemen, the top running back and tight end and three of the top four receivers.
Zorn was left to mix-and-match various personnel combinations, which didn’t exactly breed success.
“Anytime you have injuries on offense, it’s a little bit of a concern because a lot of the things we’re doing is based on timing and communication,” said Campbell, who is one of only four offensive players with perfect participation. “The quicker we can get guys healthy and back in the huddle, the better off we’ll be because of communication because you have to practice together to reach that rhythm.”
Said left tackle Chris Samuels: “We’ve got some things to correct, but that’s football. Every day is a grind day and a work day and we’re going to keep taking steps forward. We still have a lot to correct, but we’ll get there when it’s time.”
For most of the scrimmage, Campbell played behind a line of starters Casey Rabach and Derrick Dockery and reserves Devin Clark, Chad Rinehart and Jeremy Bridges. Unofficially, the quarterbacks were sacked five times even though they weren’t allowed to be hit.
“We just have to get [Heyer and Randy Thomas] back healthy and on the field,” offensive line coach Joe Bugel said. “Now we’ve got some real test games against the Ravens and Pittsburgh. You like to get your first group ready to play ‘X’ amount of snaps to build that communication.”
Bugel’s faith in the offensive line remains strong.
“We never get our confidence rattled,” he said. “I stay on them pretty hard. [Albert Haynesworth] is making [Dockery] better. He’ll get Dock ready for the season. That’s the nice thing about having a good defense.”
That good defense was without four starters (including three defensive lineman), providing an opportunity for young players. Veteran Renaldo Wynn and rookie Jeremy Jarmon each posted 1.5 sacks in the scrimmage.
“We’re running to the ball and we’re running and tackling,” safety Chris Horton said. “Obviously we gave up some touchdowns, but we know our assignments and now it’s all about the hustle. In the next two weeks, I want to see us continue to grow as a team so when we get into these preseason games, we put it together because that’s when it will show what we’ve done.”
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