- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2016

RICHMOND — The Washington Redskins’ cornerback group is one of the team’s greatest strengths after the addition of All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman. Bashaud Breeland emerged as the Redskins’ best corner last season before the arrival of Norman plus the Redskins added rookie Kendall Fuller, who was drafted in the third round and is expected to “be a major player on our defense for a while,” according to coach Jay Gruden.

The strong trio of corners boosts the secondary and the Redskins also like what they have in Quinton Dunbar, who switched from wide receiver last season, and Dashaun Phillips, who was primarily a special teams player last season.

Then there’s Greg Toler, the 31-year-old journeyman who has split six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts.

“He has been the ‘forgotten man,’ in fact I forgot to mention him the other day when we were talking about corners,” Gruden said. “He’s been outstanding out here. You know, he keeps showing up and making plays. Got great burst for the ball and great ball skills so, he’s been, I think, one of the bigger surprises.

“We knew him coming in, played well at Indianapolis, but with the addition of Josh Norman and [Bashaud] Breeland and all that, he kind of got lost in the shuffle a little bit but he’s really shown up in a big way. And he’s making that defensive back room a lot stronger, a lot more depth in the defensive back room … unlike we’ve ever had since I’ve been here obviously so, the more the merrier back there.”

Toler continued to have a strong showing Monday. On one play, the receiver made the catch but Toler was praised for his footwork. A few plays later, Toler nearly intercepted a pass intended for DeSean Jackson.


SEE ALSO: Duke Ihenacho playing with same intensity after missing consecutive seasons


“Just been a great experience, humbling experience,” Toler said. “You get to play with so many savvy vets. Everyone brings something different to the table, older guys, younger guys.”

A few more observations from Monday:

** Speaking of the secondary, Breeland continues to have a strong camp. Covering wide receiver Pierre Garcon in the red zone, Breeland intercepted Kirk Cousins’ pass in the end zone. Breeland displayed good athleticism and great coverage skills on the play. It seems as if he intercepts one pass every practice. 

** One of tight end Jordan Reed’s greatest strengths is his route-running ability. That, combined with his size, is what makes him so difficult to cover. On one play, Reed faked an inside route with safety Duke Ihenacho and then broke outside. The pass was underthrown, but Reed had created several yards of separation. After the play, defensive backs coach Perry Fewell instructed Ihenacho not to bite so hard. On another play, Reed was split out wide and blew past inside linebacker Mason Foster for a touchdown.

** During OTAs, running back Matt Jones said he wanted to improve his running inside the tackles. He felt he bounced too many runs outside or just ran out of bounds last year. He showed improvement Monday. On several rushes, Jones cut back inside the tackles and snagged a few extra yards rather than taking the easier lane outside.

** For the second consecutive day in pads, the individual pass rushing drills have been fun to watch. One particular matchup that has been intriguing is defensive end Chris Baker against right guard Brandon Scherff. It’s been a pretty even, hard-fought matchup by both players thus far.

** Officials were on the field Monday and will be back Tuesday. On one sequence, outside linebacker Preston Smith jumped offsides. The next play, right tackle Morgan Moses was called for a false start. Gruden wasn’t particularly pleased and abruptly cut the period and moved to the next.

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