- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

RICHMOND — During the last two summers, the Washington Redskins have welcomed a visiting team to their training camp facility for joint practices. Last year the spirited session ended memorably with a brawl between the two teams while ESPN was telecasting live. The fight was also featured in HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which documented the Houston Texans’ training camp.

In 2014, the New England Patriots were in town for joint practices.

The Redskins were hopeful they’d welcome another opponent this training camp, but it never came to fruition and the team will instead rely on an intrasquad scrimmage.

One of the greatest benefits of the joint practices was having a live opponent, which helps the team better prepare for unexpected situations since the plays are no longer scripted.

“I liked having other teams come in here,” coach Jay Gruden said on Monday. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get one this year. But we have to make do with what we have. It was another opportunity for us to grade our players against other players in other situations that weren’t planned and scripted.

“You know, that’s why I liked having other teams come in here. But we do have four preseason games that we can judge these guys on. We’ll have to use that. I might have a mock game on Sunday or something like that, use more game situations here to try and get some looks at them where it’s unscripted deals. It is what it is. We just have to make do with what we have.”

SEE ALSO: Training camp observations: Greg Toler ‘forgotten man’ of Redskins’ secondary

The Redskins’ first preseason game is next Thursday, Aug. 11, on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.

According to Gruden, the absence of joint practices also affects depth players more than the expected starters, since it’s more challenging to get a true evaluation of a player during the three weeks of training camp when the reps need to be shared among 90 players.

“That’s why I count the reps, to make sure that these young guys are getting ample reps so we can see them,” Gruden said. “You try not to have any pre-drawn conclusions when we’re talking about players. I like to get them out there, let them perform, and prove me right or prove me wrong, one or the other. We’re trying to get as many reps as we can out there for the young guys and let them compete, but without having a team come in here, it is a little bit more difficult. That’s why the preseason games are going to be even more important for us to let those guys go out there and play and perform. We’ll try and get a good evaluation on them.”

• Anthony Gulizia can be reached at agulizia@washingtontimes.com.

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