- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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RICHMOND, Va. -- The lessons they learned were different for each. It wasn’t about seeing how a team like New England works during practice. Rather, it was about seeing how another team attacks their offense or defense. It was about killing potential issues before they arise later.
And it’s why the Washington Redskins were happy with the past three days, practicing against New England. Whether or not the Redskins do this again in the future is uncertain. Coach Jay Gruden said he would like to do it again, but only under the right circumstances.
“Obviously I would like to keep it here,” Gruden said. “I don’t really want to travel, but if we have to we have to.”
Regarldess, he said the past three days helped. The teams went through a glorified walk-through Wednesday morning, so the heavy lifting was done Monday and Tuesday in terms of the work. They practiced for nearly 2 hours, 45 minutes in hot, humid weather Tuesday.
“It exposed some things we really have to work on as a staff,” Gruden said of the week. “And it exposed some things we have to work on as players. We competed very well. I’m excited the way we came off the ball and competed in drills. But moving forward we know that we have a long way to go, but we’re not as far as we think.”
Gruden said the Patriots’ no-huddle tested their ability to communicate on the field. In a game, coaches would be wearing headsets so they can communicate with one another and relay more to the players, for example.
It also gave them an idea of how another team might approach them offensively and defensively. The Redskins’ offense especially benefited considering it’s a new passing system, with a quarterback in Robert Griffin III and everyone else still adapting.
“Sometimes we have a different approach,” Gruden said. “To see another team attack our defense and go after our coverages and our fronts in the run game and passing game was great for our defense. Same thing for our offense. Seeing another style of defense, more man-to-man, tight man-to-man, some mixture in coverages, a couple different blitzes -- it was great for us. It’s great for Robert, it’s great for the receivers and it was great for the coaches.”
Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said he would not want to do it again, though he did see a benefit.
“We got to see the entirety of the way our plays work and the structure of our plays going against different looks,” he said. “That’s the only thing.”
For the players, it was more about breaking up the monotony of camp.
“I get tired of going against Trent all the time,” said Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo, who added that he would like to do this again. “You get a chance to get different looks at a different offense and a different change of pace. It’s refreshing. [But] it’s a normal practice for us. You’re not live, so you’re not out there trying to blow anyone up. We had great looks and different game situations. Everything looked good on film.”
It was also a chance for the Redskins to possibly learn something from an organization that has contended for a long time. The Redskins, of course, have finished last seven of the past 11 seasons.
“I [didn’t] learn nothing,” Williams said.
“I’m concerned with us and what we need to do,” Orakpo said. “They have their own philosophy and it’s been great. We respect those guys to the utmost. But this is a new regime and a new era for us, and we’re going to do things our way.”