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In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.

~ Sam Huff                    


 


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"Redskins in Richmond" - July 30 & 31 - Practice # 6 & # 7
by Chris Russell
Jul 31, 2014 -- 9:38pm

The Redskins are more than a week into training camp 2014 and so far, they have suffered major injuries to a few young guys on the very far outside looking in, but nobody of any immediate roster significance.

Last year at this time, they had already lost Keenan Robinson for the year and Jarvis Jenkins for four games.

So far (knock on wood) the Redskins have been very lucky.

WR Jerry Rice Jr. hurt his shoulder Thursday. Head Coach Jay Gruden said "it's pretty significant, I believe."

CB Courtney Bridget reverted to reserved/injured list. He has a significant shoulder injury that will require surgery. He will be able to rehab with the team, and remain under their control. Bridget missed all of 2012 with an injury.

He is a pretty remarkable story and the Redskins were lucky enough to retain his rights and give him another chance next year.

Tyler Polumbus was back for the afternoon walk thru here in Richmond on Thursday, after going home to attend to some very serious personal matters. Polumbus asked me earlier this week that we not discuss this issue, so I will respect that but our thoughts are with his family.

The Redskins were a little beat up in practice so Gruden cut it short on Thursday. "I felt like guys were a little sore, a little banged up. A lot of our  guys might have a sore back, back spasms or hammies are a little tight," Gruden told reporters.

He also added that Trent Williams "just got kicked in the shin" but will be fine.

ESPN.com & ESPN 980's John Keim wrote his daily practice report in his usual detailed fashion.

Two big stories have emerged in camp in my eyes. Robert Griffin III's role in the offense when it comes to the zone read is a big one and the increased emphasis of the running back screen game is another. The zone read is not going away, but certainly the emphasis will be different.

"There's no question, we're still working on that balance right now," said Gruden on Wednesday. Gruden pointed out the truth when he said "I think we used some in Cincinnati with Andy Dalton and they used some here." Yes and yes, and Andy Dalton is half the athlete Griffin III is.

That's the rub. First, the zone read is not a "called" quarterback run. It's an option, and the quarterback can run it based on what the defensive end is doing.

The problem with the read option is some teams will play it true. Some teams like the Bengals in 2012 and even Tampa the next week will attack the quarterback to make them feel the pain.

Ultimately, I think that's what the Redskins have to avoid. For instance, the Rams will be a nasty and physical (at sometimes dirty) unit with a ton of pass rushers and athletes. When the Redskins host St. Louis on December 7th, I would strongly advise them to avoid the read option. Just a gut feeling.

You can say that for any team, but certain ones give me a bad feeling. St. Louis is one of those teams.

Yet, I completely understand the need for read option. "It's another way to attack the defense and get the numbers in your favor offensively," Gruden said on Wednesday.

The key will be presenting this formation as something teams have to honor and practice for.

"It's whatever Coach Gruden or [offensive coordinator Sean McVay] wants to do. There will also be situations where I can use my legs in passing downs, as well. It's not just an emphasis on, 'We're going to run this guy,'" Griffin told reporters on Wednesday.

As ESPN.com and ESPN 980's John Keim detailed, "Griffin III ran the ball 43 times for 344 yards out of the zone read in 2012, according to ESPN Stats & Information, while finishing with 815 rushing yards overall. A year ago, coming off knee surgery, he ran it 37 times for 202 of his 489 yards."

Here's my view -- The Redskins probably showed read option look a lot more than people remember and I don't want my quarterback having to constantly decide that option on say 15 plays a game. Show it (in different forms) five or six times a game, and for the most part Griffin will probably only pull it once or twice a game.

"I don't really envision us running it seven or eight times a game," Gruden said.

Does that guarantee his protection? No. Does it help prevent some of the potential beating? I believe so.

Remember, it's not only injury - it is wear and tear. I think the Redskins will have to be less reliant on fooling defenses this year because of Griffin's maturation and evolvement, along with the increase in weapons he has.

When he was healthy, Griffin did not have DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts or Jordan Reed. Even Chris Thompson who might be a threat in the screen game.

Bottom line, less fooling and more doing should be the Redskins philosophy this year.

Another major storyline for the Redskins this year, is the evolution of the natural screen game to the running backs.

The Redskins did not do it enough under Kyle and Mike Shanahan. The reason for that could be two-fold. One, it wasn't stressed enough. The second reason is that the Redskins did not have enough weapons for this to an effective part of the offensive attack.

Kyle and Mike Shanahan had plenty of screens, but they were often to wide receivers and even tight ends.

A natural running back screen game can be deadly if used effectively and if you have a weapon that can catch and make people miss. That is most likely Chris Thompson, but Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Darrel Young and Lache Seastrunk are capable.

The Redskins targeted Darren Sproles but did not land him, and now have to face him twice a year with Philadelphia. I say this, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

A good running back screen game negates a pass rush and lessens the need for a overmatched running back in blitz protection. Generally, see the blitz and beat the blitz. Easier said than done, but the goal is to "negate some of these great pass rushing teams that really get up the field and play gap-style defense, that rush up the field hard," Gruden said. "Screens are a great way to attack them."

I can say this safely. The quarterback wants to run them and wanted to run them last year, and if Jay Gruden and Sean McVay are truly as flexible as I believe they are and will be, you will see plenty of running back screens.

I believe Alfred Morris will get to 30 catches this year. Before you go - OK, you must realize he has combined for 20 in his two-year career so far.

It's still nowhere near elite, but if Morris gets you around 30 and the rest of the presumed crew gets you thirty more, that's a whole lot of improvement from the last several years. Last year, Redskins running backs had a total of 45 catches. In 2012, they accumulated 41 catches.

In 2013, with the addition of Gio Bernard - the Bengals had 60 catches by running backs. They had 48 catches by backs in 2012.

It's been an emphasis during training camp. I expect it will be during the preseason and when it counts for real. It will also very much help the Redskins struggles on first down last year, as well as fine tuning their third down success.

Remember, the screen game is not just on third down or obvious passing downs. The key is to have it as a staple on EVERY down. That also allows you to continue to diversify your offense.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980


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Redskins in Richmond - July 28 & 29 - Practice # 5 & a Break
by Chris Russell
Jul 30, 2014 -- 10:49am

The Redskins were off on Tuesday, after wrapping up a physical first week of training camp in Richmond on Monday.

ESPN.com and ESPN 980 Redskins Insider John Keim filed this practice report with his view of a full pads two-and-a-half hour session.

While the Redskins were on the field, we host "Training Camp Today" on ESPN 980 and focus on some of the bigger picture items.

Perhaps you haven't heard our one-on-one interview with Quarterback Robert Griffin III yet
In the interview, Robert talks about his relationship with Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay being just as important as his relationship with Jay Gruden and his teammates. Griffin also touches on what he is most pleased with as the offense transitions from the Shanahan offense to the Gruden scheme.

Redskins President and General Manager Bruce Allen was on our Redskins Radio/Red Zebra station ESPN 950 AM & Sports FM 100.5 with our buddy "Big Al" Coleman on Monday, and had some very interesting comments looking back at last year and how the Redskins handled Griffin.

I don't know for sure what he meant. Bruce is a mysterious guy in many ways. He doesn't truly open himself up for us to pick his brain on any sort of meaningful basis, but he's a smart guy.

The one thing I was glad  Bruce said was one simple word. He used the term "we" when assigning blame. That was the right thing to do. It wasn't one person's fault.

Robert Griffin, could be blamed  because he held the Redskins to their word and for the marketing campaign "All In for Week One," with Adidas. I would point out that I would never want a player on my team that DID NOT want to play. That would be a much bigger problem.

Dr. James Andrews contributed. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen did as well. So did Dan Snyder. Everybody did. The Redskins did not want the controversy hovering over the organization and made a overall mistake.

That's the bottom line. We could debate this all day.  OK, enough. I want to move on.

Something I am very much looking forward to seeing is how the Redskins players that are quietly under the radar perform in the rest of camp and with the preseason opener. A few guys I am really excited to see as things cranks up are Safeties Akeem Davis and Trenton Robinson, Outside Linebacker Adrian Robinson, Offensive Guard Josh LeRibeus and I really want to see how Morgan Moses does in pads and in a live game situation.

What are you looking most forward to seeing?

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980


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Redskins in Richmond - July 26 & 27 - Practices # 3 & # 4
by Chris Russell
Jul 27, 2014 -- 4:22pm


A weekend of training camp football in pads reminds us that the season is finally near and the sport we live for is back.

The Redskins wrapped up two days of practice in pads on Sunday plus two walk throughs and are expected to practice again in pads Monday morning, before the players have off until Tuesday night meetings.
 

Redskins Owner Dan Snyder attended his first practice of training camp on Sunday morning, as the rain quieted down and the team had no issues getting their work in.

I can't see everything so I count on my guy John Keim of ESPN.com to provide his excellent analysis, but here is some of what I was able to see and remember.

Sunday:

Robert Griffin III had his moments over both weekend days. On Sunday, one of the prettiest passes you will ever see was released by Griffin who threw a dart along the sidelines over the shoulder of rookie Ryan Grant in stride with tight coverage. What stood out more is that Brandon Meriweather was blitzing and Griffin recognized it, stared down the gun barrel and released it quickly, with accuracy and precision.

In that same sequence, he hooked up with Pierre Garcon a few times on post routes and then on one play, he went play-action right with a boot to the backside. He tried to flip his hips while running laterally to make a play and throw. He couldn't find anybody and still had enough speed to out-race Orakpo to the sideline before running into the crowd. The play resulted in virtually nothing, but it was a big something if you know football. It was an encouraging sign to me.

Kirk Cousins threw an absolute seed on a rope to Santana Moss in stride and so quick and hard that Tracy Porter who had underneath tight coverage, did not even react. It was an absolute bullet with precision accuracy and timing.

David Amerson jumped a near pick six in front of DeSean Jackson off of Robert Griffin. Amerson is playing so free.

Young CB Peyton Thompson did a nice job on inside hook route run by Cody Hoffman. The ball was to outside. Raheem Morris said "nice sit T"

Another young CB Chase Minnifield continues to make a play a day from what I've seen. Had another pass breakup today. Sometimes he needs to hold on for interceptions, which will separate him from the pack.

RB Lache Seastrunk had a drop on a swing pass that may have been backwards. He didn't go after ball. Jay Gruden yelled "Get on the ball (expletive)"

Looks like rookie TE Ted Bolser is more comfortable catching the ball here in Richmond. He struggled at Redskins Park with a lot of drops. I've seen him make a few catches over the weekend, and don't remember any drops.

The only guy that he would have a chance to replace on the roster (and I'm not saying he should) is Niles Paul who had a few contested drops over the weekend.

The Redskins ran a one on one period again on Sunday that I was able to closely observe:

 

Brian  Orakpo jacked up Trent Williams one time, then jumped off-sides twice before Williams got him & pushed him down by engulfing him with his strength. On another rush, Williams quickly walled off Orakpo to his left and on an outside pass rush before quickly shuffling his feet to the right and stoning Orakpo as tried to dart inside. Just textbook stuff, and a lot of fun to watch.

I thought LG Shawn Lauvao looked pretty good on the one on one rushes I saw him involved in. Kory Lichtensteiger handled Barry Cofield twice.

Brandon Jenkins did not have a good session. He was swallowed up by Tom Compton on one rush OLB coach Brian Baker was screaming at him. Later on Sunday afternoon, Jenkins was waived by the Redskins who quickly got tired of the fifth round pick's inconsistency.

Rookie Trent Murphy just abused fellow rookie Morgan Moses on one rush in 1's. Others that stood out - Adrian Robinson. On one rush, Baker had to chastise the young rusher for being too far outside. On his next rush, Robinson got it and adjusted. Robinson's ability is another reason why Jenkins was cut.

In a WR-CB one on one session, David Amerson was beaten by DeSean Jackson on a beautiful throw and hook up with Kirk Cousins. Those drills are designed to be won by the receiver but Amerson had fairly tight coverage so it was a good sign.

In another matchup, Amerson blanketed Jackson who won with an outside release as Amerson did not jam him with his hands. Amerson quickly recovered and shadowed Jackson for an incomplete along the sidelines, drawing praise from Raheem Morris. (Thanks to NBC-4 Washington for the video replays)

In a team session, Amerson jumped a near pick six in front of Jackson off of Robert Griffin. Amerson is playing so free. Mentally and physically. I recorded a one on one interview with him on Saturday, that you can listen to on ESPN 980 Monday morning between 8 AM - 11 AM with John Keim and myself.

Another Robinson that is standing out is free safety Trenton. He's not afraid to throw his body around and while on a blitz Sunday, he batted down a pass. He's also expected to be a key member of the special teams unit.


Saturday:

Defensive Backs Coach Raheem Morris saluted Phillip Thomas on one play for recognizing an audible. "That's a great job Phillip," Thomas says he's reacting more instead of thinking.

Chris Baker continues to impress every time you see him. He stuffed a reverse by Pierre Garcon from left to right well behind the line of scrimmage. He stayed home and was disciplined.

Chase Minnifield dropped an interception after he jumped the route of Jerry Rice Jr. from Colt McCoy.

Perry Riley dropped a potential interception from Griffin.

David Amerson had some nice moments that I saw. He's very smooth and confident. He locked up Pierre Garcon a few times.

Rookie Bashaud Breeland jumped a quick screen to Aldrick Robinson after engaging on the line of scrimmage. He read it and blew it up.

It's hard to tell with running backs  but Silas Redd absolutely has some wiggle and ability to cut and showed a bit of physicality. He also threw his body around  in pass protection.

DL Clifton Geathers had a nice pass knockdown. He's also 6'8".

S Trenton Robinson popped Lache Seastrunk on the sideline. He can run and hit.

Veteran PK Kai Forbath was (2-3) by my count. Good from 40, 40.5, and missed wide right from 49. He had the  distance.

Rookie PK Zach Hocker was (4-4) from 40, 40, 44, 46 unofficially. He had plenty of leg. He was hooking the  ball right to left in the breeze. This may mean absolutely nothing, but Hocker was first up in the rotation. That's unusual, as the incumbent (Forbath) normally goes first.

Tom Compton had a exchange with Darryl Sharpton as a play was ending. Sharpton threw a punch, but Compton said it was  "Nothing serious. We had a good contact. We're both competing. Everyone's trying to finish."

Robert Griffin III threw a pick six to DeAngelo Hall. It was a route to DeSean Jackson that the play was on. Jackson stopped on the route, Griffin threw it. Hall was sitting on it. Jordan Reed was open on it (Jay Gruden pointed that out).  "The day you stop learning things, is the day you have to retire." Griffin said they worked out a communication afterwards.

Jackson blow torched Courtney Bridget for a long bomb in stride from Griffin, earlier in the practice.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980


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Redskins in Richmond - July 25 - The King Speaks
by Chris Russell
Jul 26, 2014 -- 2:22pm


The national media arrived in Richmond for the Redskins 2nd day on the practice fields. Deion Sanders and Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network were in the capital of the Commonwealth on Friday, as was Dan Pompei.

If you count Jon Gruden as national media, I suppose you can add him to the list. Let's be honest here, I think he has a connection or two in the organization.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated, the MMQB, and Sunday Night Football on NBC also was here. As you know, King has been outspoken over the Redskins name controversy, but  that was just one of the issues that George Wallace of WTOP and I were able to speak about with King.

King saluted Bruce Allen for the hire of Jay Gruden, with an interesting spin that I haven't heard many discuss at least recently.

"I thought that Bruce Allen made the right hire," King said.  I thought he hired the right Gruden."

He clarified what he meant about Jon, by complimenting Jay. Essentially saying because Jon has climbed the mountain, he prefers a young and hungry wolf.

"I want  as a coach of my team a guy who has beaten the bushes, who has done everything," King told us.  His career path, his goal is to be a head coach in the NFL."

King felt that Jay Gruden's number one mission (to get the most out of the franchise quarterback) will be easier to accomplish because Gruden is flexible.

"The reason Robert Griffin III is going to like working with Jay Gruden, I think, is because Jay runs a fairly democratic ship," King mentioned. "He's going to feel like he has a little more ownership in the scheme."

King preached something that I have been mentioning to anybody that would listen. "The one thing he's sure of is that he can go out there without restriction," King opined. He just wasn't happy (last year). This year, it's so different. He's involved in everything. I think mentally, he's so much more with it."

King meant that because Griffin is fully involved, he wasn't as frustrated. He also may have been talking about the peace of mind effect that Griffin has now that he feels he has "two coaches that believe in you," as he labeled Sean McVay and Jay Gruden on Thursday.

King felt that Gruden is not necessarily married to just his way or the highway, or to just what the coaches feel is the right thing to do. Players are going to have a voice. Griffin voiced similar sentiments earlier this off-season and that theory has held true on defense.

With players and with the coaching staff. One of the reasons why Jim Haslett has been reinvigorated to a large degree is because the proverbial handcuffs are off. Players, like DeAngelo Hall, Ryan Clark, Brian Orakpo and Barry Cofield are going to have more input with the staff both during the week and in a game to bend and adjust.

"The defense knows that Jim Haslett runs a smart scheme, very aggressive pouncing defense," King told ESPN 980. King mentioned the Redskins second round pick, Trent Murphy and the enthusiastic and fiery Ryan Clark. King thinks Clark "is going to be a real asset to that secondary."

Two other big picture items that we were able to pick King's brain on was the first public comments of Mike Shanahan since he was fired by the Redskins in January. Shanahan told USA Today that he would like to coach again, with a team that has a legitimate chance.

"I think Mike Shanahan will have a chance to coach a team, where the quarterback is under-achieving," King said. "He had some rocky moments with Jay Cutler, but he really helped Jay Cutler be a better player."

An early guess here is that I wouldn't be surprised to see Shanahan take over a team like the New York Giants next year if Eli Manning struggles again this year. Miami - perhaps with Ryan Tannehill.

King feels that Shanahan's departure from Washington wasn't all his fault. It was just a tough situation and "once they started going sideways, it couldn't be repaired," he said. "It's hard to repair something when your season is going down the tubes and your quarterback still is probably 88 %."

King was using that number as a figure of speech, but the point was served. Robert Griffin III was never one hundred percent last season.  

Finally, the issue that will never rest. The term "Redskins" doesn't exactly sit well with a lot of people, as you might have heard, but get used to it. "I don't think the issue is going to go away," King said. He's right. However, he made a tremendous point about the overall issue and the handling of it.

"I don't know that you want to be using a really good  smart general manager like Bruce Allen to be out front as often as he has been out front, writing letters talking about the nickname of your team." No doubt, this issue can hurt the operation of your program.

"Jerry Reese with the New York Giants, Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles - they're not fighting the national government about Giants and Eagles," King said. It's an issue that he feels is hurting the overall ability of the franchise to move forward because of "the way that Bruce Allen is fighting in a lot of arenas here."

King recently wrote that he feels the Redskins will likely change their name by 2016. "I have no proof, I have no reason. I can just feel the momentum," King told Wallace and ESPN 980. "Pretty soon, the NFL is probably going to realize that we can get rid of a pretty big headache if we start calling them the Washington Veterans or the Washington Americans or the Washington Warriors. I don't know what..Pick a name."

"It's just a gut feeling. I don't have a little birdy on Park Avenue in New York whispering in my ear 'hey we're going to get that name out of there,' It's just a sense I have."

Far be it from me to sit here and advocate for a change to the name when the issue does not have any effect on me. I get those that are bothered and I understand those that defend the name so passionately.

I also get that this issue is never going away. I don't think the Redskins are budging and I don't believe the other side of the aisle is backing down.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980


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Redskins in Richmond July 24 - Practice # 1
by Chris Russell
Jul 24, 2014 -- 7:15pm

The Redskins held their first official practice of training camp 2014 on Thursday in and around the showers during a morning session that extended a bit further than originally scheduled.

Jay Gruden and Bruce Allen's plan to have the main practice in the morning instead of in the afternoon as Mike Shanahan did the last two years (only one year in Richmond) paid off huge dividends on day one. The afternoon practice was forced indoors to the Richmond Convention Center, because of heavy rains, thunder and potential lightning.

The word on the morning practice was that the offense was rusty for the most part and sloppy. When you have rain and wet footballs, that can happen. I still like the fact that Gruden pushed through it. You have to have some mental toughness and be able to overcome adverse conditions.

I'm doing a radio show during practice, so I will tip my cap to ESPN.com and ESPN 980's John Keim for a birds eye view of the practice field with his report.

I was able to talk to a number of players afterwards.

Stephen Bowen opened training camp on the PUP list as expected. He had microfracture knee surgery last December and wasn't fully ready to go.  "It's looking good, feeling good," Bowen told me. " I think the next couple of weeks, I should be out there."

Quite simply, the Redskins approach of caution is finally the right one. All too often (Malcolm Kelly, Kory Lichtensteiger, Robert Griffin III) the coaching staff or medical staff in conjunction with players wanting to be on the field, rushed players that were not ready.

"They're trying to take their time with me," Bowen told ESPN 980. "We still got time. If it was do-or-die, I'd probably be out there."

Over the off-season, Bowen told me that he felt the Redskins defensive line could be the best in the NFL. He wasn't as bold on Thursday, but he's still confident. "I feel like we have so much talent on our defensive line. We could be as good as we want to be."

That's more like it. Prove it first, then we can talk. Still, I think the Redskins do have a good defensive line. Chris Baker, Barry Cofield and Jason Hatcher (PUP) are your starters barring any significant injury problems moving forward. Jarvis Jenkins and Kedric Golston are your likely reserve defensive ends. The question becomes the backup nose tackle spot (Baker/Chris Neild) or a wild card in Golston. Baker and Golston would kill two birds with one stone. Neild would not.

Also what do you if Bowen is healthy? Hard to imagine the Redskins carrying more than seven linemen as a maximum, and hopefully they can get away with six. Baker, Cofield, Hatcher, Golston, Jenkins and Bowen seem about right to me. That would mean Neild, Clifton Geathers and Doug Worthington are on the outside looking in.

Trent Williams is coming off another Pro Bowl season and is already beginning his fifth year. He's the one and only Redskins player that you simply can not replace in any reasonable mind. Tom Compton or moving Tyler Polumbus over is not exactly a comforting thought.

Williams has two years left on his original deal, a six-year contract that paid him an enormous sum because he was drafted before the current CBA. Should the Redskins approach him about re-working his contract to lower his cap values for 2014 and more importantly 2015?

Apparently, they have not really begun those discussions according to Williams. He isn't worried at all. Or thinking about it very often."Umm not much. Of course, I would love to stay here and finish my career here, but I'll let the agents earn their money..That's what they get paid for....I'll kind of let them take care  of that.."

Williams counts 10.9 million  against the cap this year and 12.2 million on the 2015 ledger.

If the Redskins have started those future plans, Williams has been left in the dark. "I have no idea. .If they have, I haven't been informed"

The Redskins don't have to do anything right now or they really don't have to do anything for two more years. The problem is if Williams has two more Pro Bowl years, they could be up a river without any help. Williams at that point would be 28 going on 29 with six years under him and possible four Pro Bowl appearances. That will be a killer package.

Not to mention, Robert Griffin III has the right to get a new contract after 2014 or the Redskins could lock him up with a fifth year option through the 2016 season. If you pay Williams after the 2015 season, because you wanted to see where he is at - you could be looking at a very messy salary cap situation with Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams all looking out enormous deals within a year of each other.

You can do it anyway you want, but I think it's important to work manageable extensions when you still have the ability and some leverage .

Andre Roberts told me he feels he will still be a huge part of this offense, even with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon surrounding him. Think about this. Who's going to be able to pay a lot of attention to Roberts out of the slot or even on the outside, when the Redskins can mix so many different formations. Roberts should have a field day if he's consistent and catches the ball consistently. Bottom line, he should be better than Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson when Hank gets healthy.

Ryan Grant will get some opportunities, but the player that thrives in the red zone and on third down will get extra opportunities. I believe that will largely be Jordan Reed, but this is a perfect opportunity for Roberts to score a lot of touchdowns on a team that is desperate to improve their red zone efficiency. If he can do that, he will have no issue getting more touches.

DeAngelo Hall had a terrific chat with the media, which John wrote about in detail. I will have some thoughts on my question for Hall and how Jay Gruden asked him to be a leader shortly.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980


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Redskins in Richmond July 23
by Chris Russell
Jul 23, 2014 -- 6:59pm

The Redskins officially kicked off training camp 2014 at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond on Wednesday.

No practice was held on a steamy one hundred degree (at 4:30 PM) afternoon, but the entire roster was on the field for conditioning tests that were closed to the media.

ESPN 980 was first to report on Wednesday morning that DE Stephen Bowen and DE Jason Hatcher were to begin training camp on the preseason physically unable to perform list (PUP). Joining Bowen and Hatcher are WR Leonard Hankerson and OL Maurice Hurt.

A couple of things that we can take away from these developments.

1. Somewhat surprisingly, CB and potential punt returner Richard Crawford Jr. has been cleared to return following his ACL and MCL knee injury from last August. Crawford told ESPN 980 and John Keim in May that he was ready to go, but he was being held out of off-season activities as a precaution. That always concerns me, and Crawford has looked uncomfortable when I've seen him walk but the Redskins feel he is ready to go.

2.  Crawford's return at the start of camp is crucial because he was by far and away the most improved cornerback during last year's off-season and early in training camp. It will be interesting to see how the Redskins deploy him and if he will be used outside or inside or a combination of both. If he can play both, and he has regained his speed - the Redskins will almost be forced to  keep him. He can obviously help as a punt returner, but with DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter,  and Bashaud Breeland  in the fold already - there may only be one spot to win amongst Chase Minnifield and EJ Biggers. 

3. Tracy Porter will be the starting slot cornerback despite missing the entire off-season. I'm anxious to see how he plays, with David Amerson now the full time starter at the RCB position. Porter may not be a significant upgrade from Josh Wilson, but he is better in my eyes and he won't be asked to play as much as Wilson was. Hopefully for Porter, he can track the ball better than Wilson did. That was a huge problem.

4. Stephen Bowen said all the right things, but there was no legitimate reason to rush him back from micro-fracture surgery last December. I know he wants to play, but as long as Jason Hatcher is ready to go (knee) - I see no huge reason to rush Bowen back and would even strongly consider putting him on the regular season PUP list.

5. Jay Gruden said Hatcher would be ready to go ahead of the others, and that was expected as well. I am not terribly concerned by Hatcher's situation because he does not have as much mileage as a typical 32-year old defensive lineman would have. He probably won't play until the Baltimore preseason game (if at all) but the Redskins are wise to take their time to limit the chances of swelling.

6. Maurice Hurt was already on the outside looking in. Now he's in the chateau bow-wow. I don't have any good explanations for it, other than it is really hard to stay in tip-top shape and watch what you eat all the time. Hurt showed up out-of-shape and the new head coach sent a message of accountability. He called him out in the media, something Mike Shanahan rarely did. 

7. This sends a message to the entire team, right from the start what is expected. Here's the deal - if you are Trent Williams, you can get away with it. If you are Maurice Hurt - you have pretty much driven the final nail in your burgundy and gold coffin.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980

 

 


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