- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2017

RICHMOND — Rain had soaked the Redskins’ practice fields overnight and earlier in the day, making for soggy field conditions Saturday. The skies held for the team’s first pads-on practice of training camp, though, which was more than enough to make players forget about the weather.

“We were all ready to hit somebody,” linebacker Will Compton said after two spirited hours under gray skies on an unusually cool day.

A cruel twist of irony – and of body

The one player Jay Gruden singled out as a rising camp star suffered an injury Saturday. During 11-on-11 drills, running back Keith Marshall fell, twisting his right knee awkwardly on the way down after already making two nice cuts on a carry. Marshall fell into a defensive lineman, but it seemed that he’d already caught his cleat in the sloppy turf.

Marshall punched his fist into the ground after he fell. Four trainers rushed to Marshall’s side, put his knee in an air cast and loaded him onto the cart. Marshall kept all weight off his right foot when he was helped up.

A Redskins spokesman said after practice that Marshall had a knee injury and needed further testing.

Earlier that day, Gruden had said that Marshall had impressed him after missing all of 2016 with UCL damage in his elbow.

Keith Marshall’s flashed a little bit from his injury, coming back,” Gruden said. “I think people are sleeping on him a little bit.”

A seventh-round draft pick in 2016, Marshall also tore his right ACL in 2013 when he was in college at Georgia. With a 4.31 40-yard-dash, Marshall could be a dynamic change-of-pace back in the Redskins’ stable if he can stay healthy — but that seems to be a big “if.”

With Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson all locks or likely to make the 53-man roster, Marshall was fighting with Mack Brown, and maybe Matt Jones, for a possible fourth running back spot. Now it’s possible that, just when he’d been turning heads, another injury could derail him.

A very Cousins comeback

Finally allowed to hit, players were energized and extra chatty Saturday. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland was chatty throughout the session. After cornerback Josh Norman popped running back Samaje Perine on one play, safety D.J. Swearinger shouted “That’s what you wanted!”

Soon after, wide receiver Matt Hazel completed a nice catch down the seam and tight end Niles Paul chose to give it back to the defense, pointing his finger and asking “Why y’all so quiet?”

This made quarterback Kirk Cousins want to get involved. “Yeah! What he said,” was what he came up with. OK, so there’s room for improvement in Cousins’ trash-talk game. Training camp is all about making progress.

Mixed results for Hopkins

Earlier in the spring, at the NFL owners’ meetings, Gruden said that the Redskins would probably bring in some competition for the specialists but, when camp opened, there was no competition on the roster for kicker Dustin Hopkins. Gruden confirmed Saturday before practice that the Redskins wouldn’t be bringing anyone in to compete for Hopkins’ job.

“Not at this time, no,” Gruden said.

Hopkins had a bit of a tough day, though. He went 4-7 on field goals, making all three attempts from 44 yards out and one 50-yarder, but missing three times from 48 yards out. Two of Hopkins’ misses went off the left post and the third went wide right by a large margin.

Injuries: Aside from Marshall, wide receiver Jamison Crowder was held out as a precaution because of a tight hamstring. Defensive lineman Anthony Lanier was held out of practice because of knee inflammation and is considered day-to-day. Breeland practiced for the majority of the session, then got attention from a trainer for cramping in his leg, laughing and watching from the sideline as the trainer massaged his calf.

On Friday, the Redskins said that wide receiver Maurice Harris had strained his knee and, on Saturday, Gruden said that Harris would be out “probably three or four days, maybe five” because of knee soreness.

Signings: The Redskins worked out a couple defensive backs Saturday morning and, by practice time, had signed defensive back Jeremiah McKinnon, who was released by the Cowboys earlier this month. The team waived cornerback Lou Young III with an injury designation as a corresponding move, two days after Young pulled his groin. McKinnon was undrafted out of Florida International in 2016.

Bonus: One of the knocks on running back Matt Jones, last year’s Week 1 starter who lost his job to Robert Kelley and is now considered a long shot to make the team, is his inability or unwillingness to play special teams. Notably, Jones did some special teams drills Saturday. It’s most likely too little, too late but at a minimum, Jones is showing he’s aware he needs to fight.


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