Cleaning out some thoughts on the Washington Redskins players' day off:
There's no drama. Certainly for the team, that's a good thing. Last summer it was mostly about Robert Griffin III's knee with an undercurrent of tension between head coach Mike Shanahan and Griffin. Now? It's Camp Love. A fresh start and approach after a 3-13 season has been welcomed by all. The energy in practice is different, in part because there's a more physical approach.
Teams that want to be more physical find players who are that way. It's one reason they drafted players such as linebacker Trent Murphy and corner Bashaud Breeland and brought in a safety such as Ryan Clark. But it can be hard to weed out who can play that way when you rarely hit in practice. In the old days, under Marty Schottenheimer, it wasn't tough to see. They were in full pads twice a day. Even I was exhausted at the end of camp.
You know it's a drama-free camp when perhaps your most popular story involves a fan getting players' signatures on his arm and turning them into tattoos. Last summer, that wouldn't have caused a stir. This summer? Story!
RG III looks so much better than he did while returning last summer from his knee injury. Of course, he should look better given the differences in the offseason. He's not Peyton Manning out there, but Griffin has thrown some excellent passes and made some good reads. There are times when he's forced to run and that's when it's often hard to tell why, without going back and seeing what happened. In the past, he often ran when he could have thrown. I will say, he's cut down on those runs as camp has progressed.
The real key in RG III's relationship with Gruden will be how each side handles adversity during the season. It will come; it always does. If Gruden has been consistent with him in his approach to that point, and continues that way, then it will be OK. Both sides will learn a lot at that point.
It'll be interesting to see how teams defend the Redskins and how much they blitz. The Redskins can make teams pay because of their talent in the passing game at receiver and tight end. Handle the blitz well early and watch teams back off. If not …
Safety Brandon Meriweather continues to decline any and all interview requests, instead pointing to Clark as his translator (spokesman would be a better word; the only player I've needed a translator for in the past was probably Rod Gardner with his thick country dialect).
But Meriweather is among those keeping second-year corner David Amerson in line. After one practice, Amerson headed to the Jugs machine to catch passes and then had to fulfill an interview request. Meriweather chastised him and prodded him to go sign some autographs. Amerson listened.
Still don't know what Clark has left as a player; tough to fully gauge his game until the preseason. So this position remains a question mark. Meriweather rags on Clark for how often he speaks to the media. If you're going to talk, you'd best still show you can play and that's the task ahead for Clark. At this point, it's too early to say and the key will be staying durable and getting through the season. At 34, that's always a key.
And while Keenan Robinson looks pretty good, we still don't know if he be effective against the run. Only one way to find out, but can't go overboard on him until he proves he can tackle and stop the run. Really, the same is true of Will Compton. I think the inside linebacker spot and who they keep will be interesting.
I like what I've seen thus far from Kory Lichtensteiger at center. His quickness here helps and his lack of size should not hurt him as much as it did at guard. There, he was responsible for many more one-on-one matchups. At center, he'll more often than not end up helping the guards and double teaming. And his quickness in the run game allows him to reach his intended spot quicker. He's held his own against Barry Cofield.
I still don't know when end Jason Hatcher will return and I think he's getting tired of being asked. It'll be six weeks Thursday since he underwent surgery -- at the time his recovery was said to be four-to-six weeks.
Still don't think receiver Leonard Hankerson will be ready at the start of the season. Nobody has said anything, but my hunch is that he'll end up on the physically unable to perform list. Not reporting that, but just a gut feel.