- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2011

Receiver Anthony Armstrong beat cornerback Byron Westbrook for a touchdown on a deep post pattern during Washington Redskins practice Wednesday. Rex Grossman’s long throw was accurate with nice touch, but more importantly it provided a learning opportunity for rookie safety DeJon Gomes.

Westbrook expected Gomes, a fifth-round draft pick, to help him over the top. Gomes, however, admitted he misread the play. He locked onto the outside receiver on the right side of the formation instead of recognizing that Armstrong, who lined up in the right slot, was going deep.

“I was out of position,” Gomes said. “There were two receivers, and I can’t focus [only] on one.”

Gomes is learning quickly in the secondary. He has received extra playing time during practice because three other safeties — LaRon Landry (Achilles’ tendon), Oshiomogho Atogwe (hamstring) and Kareem Moore (knee) are injured.

“He’s got a ton of athletic ability and a ton of instincts. He’s just real raw,” safeties coach Steve Jackson said. “He played corner at junior college, and then he moved to safety. He’s still learning the nuances of the position, but he definitely has tools to work with.”

Chemistry key for Hightower

What’s the biggest thing the Redskins need to accomplish Friday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers? According to running back Tim Hightower, it’s developing team chemistry.

With so many new faces thanks to roster roulette in the first days of free agency, coach Mike Shanahan thinks his team is making strides in that department and getting in better shape, too.

“It’s a lot better,” Hightower said. “We have a short time to have a lot of guys come together for one goal. But I mean all 32 teams have that same issue.”

One good sign has been evident in practice.

“Not a lot of fights have broken out, so that’s always a good thing,” Hightower said. “When you see guys encouraging each other, it’s always a great thing.”

Gutierrez’s call came quickly

Quarterback Matt Gutierrez was unemployed for less than 48 hours after the Chicago Bears waived him Monday. He got a call from the Redskins and signed in time to observe Wednesday afternoon’s walk-through.

Now he must absorb as much of the playbook as possible if he is to earn a roster spot.

“I know I’ve got a lot to learn,” he said, “but I think I’m in a great place with the right people to learn from.”

Gutierrez never lost a game at De La Salle High School in California, where he was teammates with Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew. In addition to Chicago, he has spent time with New England and Kansas City.

Staff writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

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