- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 23, 2017

ASHBURN – During the Redskins’ practice Wednesday, receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. and quarterback Kirk Cousins ran a play they hadn’t worked on since training camp in Richmond.

Pryor didn’t say exactly what the play design was but, for him, it involves a vertical route with a roll inward at the top of the stem. It’s a “concept that we run an awful lot and that our team believes in,” Pryor said.

They ran it for a completion, but something didn’t feel quite right. As soon as practice ended, Pryor went over to Cousins to mention that the connection still didn’t feel perfect.

“I was like, ‘Hey, let’s hit this route,’” Pryor said.

“You read my mind,” Cousins answered.

Quarterback and new receiver spent the next 25 minutes running that play, at full speed, over and over.

“We started hitting it and we started clicking it and making it work and then we started hitting them every time because it’s just a timing thing,” Pryor said.

The timing had to do with how the play gets adjusted depending on the coverage. If Pryor gets jammed coming off the line, Cousins is supposed to take a hitch, a step forward after he’s completed his dropback. A hitch step helps a quarterback redirect his momentum forward to put more into his throw, and adds an extra second for a route to develop.

“On that particular play that I’m talking about, Kirk doesn’t [normally] take a hitch,” Pryor said. “But when you’re [getting] bump man [coverage] he takes a hitch because he knows it’s going to take a little bit more time to shake the guy off, get vertical and then break it at the right depth.”

Getting used to each other’s little nuances has been Cousins and Pryor’s task through training camp and two weeks of preseason. It remains their task going forward. With less than three weeks until the Week 1 opener against the Eagles, they’re still figuring each other out. Pryor has caught one pass on three in-game targets from Cousins this preseason. Results during training camp practices were sometimes spectacular, but mostly mixed.

“What some of the stuff we’re working on goes back to the fact that, as good as [Pryor] is, as talented as he is, there’s still a lot more there,” Cousins said.

A single offseason offers limited time for a quarterback and a receiver to sync up. Take this example as proof: tight end Jordan Reed, having just returned to practice, also joined Pryor and Cousins for their extra work session. Reed hasn’t practiced with Cousins since minicamp, but the two have had years to develop their connection.

“Of every single ball he threw to Jordan,” Pryor said, “I think he might have missed one.”

No two pass-catchers are alike. Even if Pryor and Reed run the same route, they run it differently and Cousins has to adjust.

“Jordan does it where he shakes and sticks but me, I’m more of — I run up on it fast,” Pryor said. “I get there quick and then I just kind of like smoothly roll in. So it just happens for [Cousins] a little quicker, so that’s what he’s just trying to feel out.”

It’s not just Cousins who needs to make adjustments, though. The Redskins ran the first play of the first preseason game for Pryor but it went incomplete. Pryor was a bit surprised to see Ravens safety Eric Weddle coming down toward him and broke his route a bit too early, causing Cousins’ pass to sail over his head.

“I had Jimmy [Smith] pressed on me [and] they had the safety rolled over the top double-teaming me,” Pryor said. “They had the safety double-teaming me and they had nobody over the top on the other guy so I didn’t expect that in the preseason. You know? So little things like that happen that you’re not expecting.”

Though Pryor is a very different kind of deep threat, the Redskins are hoping he can replace at least most of the 1,005 receiving yards lost with free agent departee DeSean Jackson.

“We’re going to be fine,” Pryor said.

• Nora Princiotti can be reached at nprinciotti@washingtontimes.com.

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