- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Highlights from Tuesday's Washington Redskins' practice:
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan missed practice to attend the funeral of a close friend. Assistant head coach/running backs coach Bobby Turner ran practice. Turner has been with Shanahan for 18 years and has excelled at grooming running backs who fit the stretch zone system. But Turner is a man of few words who doesn't enjoy talking to the media. He took no questions in his post-practice press conference, instead reading a 115-word statement.
The Redskins worked in shells instead of shoulder pads, which means there won’t be many observations because players don’t go at the same speed as when they have pads on. It’s particularly tough to gauge a lineman’s day in this situation. With the preseason opener two days away it’s not a surprise that they would go in shells.
There’s an excellent chance that the Redskins will open with three rookies in the secondary against the Titans, thanks in part to injuries. They are: corner David Amerson who will replace DeAngelo Hall, sitting out after hurting his ankle earlier in camp; safety Bacarri Rambo, the starter from the first day of camp; and safety Phillip Thomas, who would start if Brandon Meriweather does not. It’s unlikely Meriweather would play considering he only returned to full work Monday after a week off because of his right knee.
It’s also hard to imagine that another starting corner, Josh Wilson, started playing fulltime only recently because of offseason shoulder surgery. Wilson looked solid in 11-on-11 work.
Amerson made a leaping interception on a deep out thrown by Rex Grossman. Amerson also did a nice job in press coverage against Pierre Garcon. He did a good job with his left hand on a jam, mirrored Garcon’s movements and made a sharp break when he cut. The quarterback looked elsewhere. Amerson struggled early in camp with some holds -- he straddled the line between a good jam and a hold several days in a row -- but he looked good on this route.
Left tackle Trent Williams, wearing a hard cast with padding on his left wrist, isn’t sure if he’ll play Monday. He did take work with the starters during the 11-on-11 portion. But Williams’ hand is completely covered by the padding, leaving him with one hand to use against pass- rushers. Williams said he wants to play. “Yeah, it’s football,” he said.
It wasn’t a big play, but it’s one I liked nonetheless. Thomas came up against the run on a run by Chris Thompson, but he did so under control. Thompson initially appeared headed outside, but Thomas took that away with his angle. When Thompson cut back inside, Thomas easily reacted to the cut. He was patient and balanced. One of Thomas’ biggest adjustments is learning how to fit on the run; he did a nice job on this one. Secondary coach Raheem Morris helps by often asking questions of him on the field -- like what he was looking at in a particular coverage -- rather than just telling him what he needed to do.
New special teams coach Keith Burns is not as loud as his predecessor, Danny Smith. But when he has a point to make, it gets made. When working with his first kick coverage unit, Burns was displeased with how they handled their execution, yelling about how some used their hands. He shouted at them to “go again!” They did. This time, they did it better.