Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Tuesday Redskins training camp thoughts
By Dan Graziano
ASHBURN, Va. -- You guys want to know who stood out in Washington Redskins practice today, and the easy answer for me is left tackle Trent Williams. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft, who missed the final four games of the 2011 season on a drug suspension, is impressing folks all over the building this month. Outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are switching sides on certain plays this year, which means each is getting a turn trying to get past Williams. And they're not enjoying it very much.
"Trent's a beast," Kerrigan said. "I mean, we were just talking in the meeting room earlier today. He's having a phenomenal training camp and there's no reason why he can't be one of the top tackles in this league. He obviously has the talent, but I think this offseason he's really put his mind to it and gotten after it. What can you do against him? He's strong as an ox and quick as a cat. He's awesome."
The issue of Williams' potential awesomeness has never been in question. He was, after all, the No. 4 pick in the draft. He is strong, quick and athletic in ways that could make him one of the very best at his position. The only questions with Williams have been about focus and demeanor. And when he got popped for the drug suspension last year, those questions came into clear focus.
Trent Williams has impressed at Redskins training camp. "Trent's a beast," Ryan Kerrigan said.
But Williams now knows he can't mess up again, or he's going to forfeit more millions of dollars than most people can even imagine having in the first place. And it looks and sounds as though he's re-dedicated himself.
"He's different this year," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told me after practice. "There is a sense of urgency. Everybody can see it. I'm just hoping he keeps it on a straight line. I told him, 'I'm never going to compliment you again. You can make a great play, and I'm still going to be on your butt.'"
Sounds like a pretty good plan. And it sounds as though, so far, it's working.
Some other thoughts/observations/sights/sounds from my second and final day here:
Yes, in answer to a question I've received a few times, Orakpo and Kerrigan are switching sides of the field depending on the plays and the matchups. "We do it just to give different looks," Orakpo explained "We see a lot of teams around the league doing it, and we started doing it towards the end of the season last year and had a lot of success, and we're going to continue to do so. We're going to take the mismatches and continue to roll with that. If Kerrigan's better on my right side, we're going to put him on my right. If he's better on the left, we're going to put him on the left." It looked as though Orakpo spent more time over the left tackle in practice Tuesday, but Kerrigan was there toward the end.
Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III throws a very pretty deep pass and looks remarkably natural as a runner. He does take a little too long with some of his drops, though, and that's something that has to be worked out with more and more training camp reps. No one seems worried. Griffin is smart and talented enough that the expectation is that he'll iron it all out. It's just important for fans to remember that the ironing does need to be done.
Running back Tim Hightower still isn't participating in team drills. Shanahan said he decided not to put Hightower on the PUP list because he thought there'd be some benefit to having him do the individual drills so he could get more comfortable with making his cuts again after last season's knee surgery. It remains to be seen when Hightower will start to see more action. Meanwhile, Evan Royster seems to be getting the most first-team reps and impressing the coaching staff the most. Roy Helu looks fine, though he did drop one pass. And rookie Alfred Morris is someone to watch as well, though he had a fumble. I get the impression after talking with Shanahan in his office Tuesday night that he would be comfortable starting any of the four.
Orakpo had his battles with Williams, but he looked remarkably quick snuffing out a bubble screen to Hankerson during the outdoor portion of Tuesday afternoon's practice (before thunderstorms forced the second half of it indoors).
Strong safety Brandon Meriweather got to Griffin twice on safety blitzes. He didn't hit him, of course, but he let everybody know how excited he was. As he ran back to the huddle after the second, Meriweather could be heard crowing, "I got him again!" Madieu Williams continued to start at free safety, though once again Tanard Jackson wasn't allowed to practice since it was just his second day off of PUP. He'll be allowed to practice from now on.
Rex Grossman threw an interception, but you were probably already assuming that.
I am headed up the road now to Bethlehem, Pa., where I will be checking out the Philadelphia Eagles for the next two days. But I still have plenty more from Redskins camp that I'll roll out in the coming days. Our Redskins "Camp Confidential" is scheduled to run Thursday, so look for that. But beyond that, I'll have some more of my own reporting to share with you, including that Kerrigan interview that one guy keeps bugging me about.