NFL Nation: Will Compton

A few observations from the Redskins rookie minicamp Saturday morning. Keep in mind: This was our first chance to see the rookies. Their heads are swimming with new knowledge. That serves as a warning: Take these for what they're worth. Now, having said that...
  1. Tackle Morgan Moses is a big man and stands out in the crowd -- even among his peers. But Moses will always need to work on staying low in his stance. The first time I saw him try to block, he was moving to his left and lunged -- too bent at the waist on other times, too. He’ll have to work on staying balanced. That's what this weekend is for; to start correcting some of these issues.
  2. But he used his long arms a couple of times to stop Trent Murphy -- also long -- on the pass rush. I’ll be curious to see how he progresses coming off the ball and being able to attack defenders.
  3. Could tell when he was, or wasn’t, driving off the ball by how he set. A light set did not always mean pass protection, though. But it did mean he wasn’t going to drive off the ball.
  4. One thing Murphy will have to learn: how to lessen the gap between he and the tackle. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to use his hands. In a one-on-one rush, Murphy dipped and should have had the advantage, but failed to get it.
  5. After the rush, outside linebackers coach Brian Baker – do not underestimate this guy’s presence – worked with him on dipping his shoulder to complete the move. That’s what this weekend is all about: learning a lesson, then applying it as they move forward. They spoke for another 5-10 minutes after the practice while the other players exited.
  6. Murphy lined up at left outside linebacker all of practice. Eventually I can see him being moved around; it’s what he did in college and it worked.
  7. Guard Spencer Long was beaten in a one-on-one the first time I saw him by tryout linebacker Aaron Davis; speed to Long's outside. But the next time he went, Long anchored well. Saw him do that in college, too; strong base. For what it’s worth, Long said he feels normal coming off his MCL tear this past season.
  8. Did not see all of tight end Ted Bolser’s drops, but others saw them. Did see him get bumped off his route by Murphy -- one thing that was evident on tape is that the ex-Stanford linebacker is comfortable moving in space.
  9. Corner Bashaud Breeland likes to get his hands on receivers, even after the five yards that are allowed. He’s physical and with long arms. He’ll try to get a subtle grab at the top of a route. Just something to watch this summer.
  10. But Breeland, playing right corner, is experienced in press. Used good technique on one jam, getting his left hand on the inside of the receiver and bumping him off stride. Did not see a lot of separation from receivers against him.
  11. Didn’t watch a lot of receiver Ryan Grant, but the one time I did he dropped a pass. Turned his head too soon. I'll pay more attention Saturday afternoon.
  12. Need to see more of running back Lache Seastrunk catching the ball. In one drill where players weave through cones and then catch a pass, saw a drop. But to measure his hands, need to see a lot more and in game situations. He’s convinced his hands aren’t an issue.
  13. In a one-on-one drill designed to help special teams, Seastrunk did one of his classic plant and cut moves. He made a hard jab to the left, let the defender bite and then cut back the other way.
  14. For what it’s worth, Seastrunk told the Redskins he would like a shot at returning kicks. Not sure if that will happen or not.
  15. The first-year guys in camp: linebacker Will Compton, punter Blake Clingan, defensive back Peyton Thompson, safety Akeem Davis and lineman Tevita Stevens.

Washington Redskins cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
Most significant move: Keeping four quarterbacks with back-from-the-dead Pat White making the roster. Anyone who saw White throw early in spring workouts would not have predicted this scenario. But White, who has been out of the NFL the past three seasons, improved throughout the summer and the coaches genuinely liked what they saw. One coach predicted earlier in the week that he would be on someone’s roster. White showed he can still run and mastered the slant routes and digs. He still needs to work on finesse throws and prove he can make throws into tight windows over the middle, but his improvement was noticeable.

However, keeping four is still a lot. But with Kirk Cousins nursing a sprained right foot and with Robert Griffin III not having played in the preseason, the Redskins might just keep White around for the first couple of games. They have roster exemptions for end Jarvis Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson, both suspended for the first four games, so they could make this sort of move. If Griffin and Cousins both stay healthy, it’s hard to see this being a long-term situation. Still, White made big strides after a rough start.

The Redskins also opted to keep running back Evan Royster, who perhaps saved his job with a strong preseason finale at Tampa Bay. He's one of five running backs along with speedy rookie Chris Thompson.

Gone, but not yet forgotten: The Redskins would like to re-sign a number of their released players to the practice squad, including Chase Minnifield, Nick Williams, Tevita Stevens, Will Compton and tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, among others. Minnifield’s release was a surprise, given how the coaches talked about him during camp and his physical style in press coverage -- and with the loss of corner Richard Crawford. But the coaches liked corner Jerome Murphy’s physical style as well – and his special teams ability. Williams is an intriguing prospect as a slot receiver and punt returner. Ogbeuhi is a raw prospect who needs to spend a year or two on the practice squad.

Safety DeJon Gomes, a fifth-round pick in 2011 and opening day starter in 2012, did not progress in coverage. Though he was better in the box, the Redskins have Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty ahead of him at strong safety. And they opted for Jose Gumbs, signed right before camp, as a swing safety.

The Redskins also placed offensive lineman Maurice Hurt on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. The tough cut? Receiver Dez Briscoe. According to a league source, Briscoe would have made the roster had he not injured his shoulder in the preseason finale.

What's next: The Redskins next big moves will occur after Week 4 when Jenkins and Jackson return from their four-game suspensions. At that point end Phillip Merling could be in trouble, along with, possibly White, simply because it would be unusual to keep four quarterbacks all season.

The Redskins lack experienced depth along the offensive line and could always use more help at safety. So if anyone intriguing clears waivers, the Redskins would be interested. They also retain the rights to suspended safety Tanard Jackson, who is now eligible for reinstatement. However, it could take a while for the NFL to grant his return -- if they give it to him at all.

Redskins cuts: RB: Keiland Williams, Jawan Jamison, RB Tristan Davis (from exempt/left squad list). WR: Skye Dawson, Nick Williams, Lance Lewis, Dez Briscoe (designated as injured). OL: Tevita Stevens, Tony Pashos, Kevin Matthews, Xavier Nixon. TE: Emmanuel Ogbuehi. DL: Chigo Anunoby, Dominique Hamilton, Ron Brace. DB: DeJon Gomes, Chase Minnifield LB: Vic So’oto, Will Compton, Marvin Burdette.

Redskins defense: What we've learned

August, 20, 2013
After watching the Redskins’ 24-13 victory over Pittsburgh on Monday, here’s what stood out:

  • It was easy to see how dominant nose tackle Barry Cofield was at times Monday night. It was even deeper than I realized. Two years ago the Redskins coaches predicted Cofield would soon be the NFL’s best nose tackle. I’m not going so far as to say that he is, but I will say he’s improved and now combines athleticism, quickness and brains. Anyway, on the first series he had consecutive plays in which he made a crucial contribution even if it wasn’t a flashy one. First, he was cocked to his right over the center. At the snap, he squared up with center Maurkice Pouncey. As the play went to Cofield’s left, he turned and gained leverage on Pouncey, pushing him back as he ran to that side and made the tackle. On the next play, he and Stephen Bowen both occupied two defenders as linebacker London Fletcher stepped into the hole. Bowen broke free to make the tackle as one of his blockers headed to Fletcher.
  • [+] EnlargeBarry Cofield
    Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsWill a strong summer for Washington's Barry Cofield lead to a big regular season?
    On the second series, Cofield made his mark on two other plays, courtesy of swim moves past Pouncey. The center whiffed on his first block attempt. And the second one occurred on linebacker Ryan Kerrigan’s interception for a touchdown. Cofield was into the backfield fast with another swim move. It’s hard to imagine teams having much success against him on a consistent basis with just one blocker. The same is true of Bowen -- and one of them more often than not will be singled up in pass-rush situations. Cofield got Pouncey again on a swim move -- Pouncey’s hands were low and slow (that motto works for brisket; not blocking Cofield). By the way, my thoughts haven’t changed on Kerrigan since watching the film. A good night.
  • I focused on this in my Ten Observations as well, but it’s really intriguing to see what the Redskins can do with their pass rush and how they can mix and match and create different looks. I love Kerrigan inside in some -- not all -- rush situations because of his quickness off the ball and his ability to play with leverage from his defensive-end days. Just a good changeup. And I like that they can mix and match: one play Kerrigan is over the right guard with Bowen over the left guard. It might be the opposite on the next play, giving that player a quality rusher with different strengths. Washington can rush Kerrigan and another linebacker from a four-point stance, with one standing up. It’ll be more effective with Brian Orakpo, naturally, but it works well thus far because of the various looks. What the Redskins are not having to do, yet, is send extra rushers out of necessity.
  • They did have one alignment in which they used five linebackers and two defensive linemen. Kerrigan was at left end with Brandon Jenkins at right end and Darryl Tapp inside to his left. The Steelers gained nine yards with a quick pass. But it was a first-down play, so it was an example of the Redskins perhaps trying to generate extra push with an early-down pass rush. It helps that Tapp is a former defensive end, albeit in a 4-3 (where the ends can be sometimes 30 pounds lighter than a 3-4 end).
  • Forgot to ask David Amerson about this play, but was reminded of it watching the game again on a 20-yard pass play (the DeJon Gomes late hit). Amerson did not get a good re-route on the receiver and then failed to drop deep enough in the cover-2 look, leaving quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with an easy throwing lane. Amerson, though, continues to look like a future starter. When? He still has a lot to learn and prove, but he’s moving at the right pace. He’s willing to play physical and even though he missed on one tackle -- keep the head up -- he’s not shying from this role.
  • Corner Chase Minnifield was beaten deep by Markus Wheaton on one play, on which he made the tackle. In practices, Minnifield seemed to be beaten more when in off-man coverage, as he was playing here, than in press man. It’s probably because he’s good at disrupting the timing of a play. On the 45-yard gain, it really was just a straight go route with a minimal double move. But Minnifield handled press duties well and I liked how he shed one block from a receiver to make a tackle. Minnifield was aggressive with his hands and was able to control the receiver (Wheaton). You can always work with toughness.
  • Bacarri Rambo is coming up almost trying not to miss the ball carrier rather than to hit him. That was noticeable when Jose Gumbs delivered a few hits while playing in the middle. There was no hesitation. But Rambo is breaking down too much and his angles are off enough that the combination has equaled trouble for him. Rambo isn’t the only one who has struggled with angles, but he is the rookie starting at a spot where he needs to be a sure tackler. During camp Rambo looked like he belonged, and that he was good at correcting his mental mistakes. But one of the areas that’s tough to measure is how he’ll come up versus the run. With LeSean McCoy up in Week 1, the Redskins can’t afford a free safety still learning how to master the proper angles. I like that Rambo forced a fumble after one of his misses (a play in which Rob Jackson blew up the tight end and forced the back into a tough spot). But his struggles illustrate why it's a hard transition. He just needs to be a fast learner, as the coaches say he is in other situations.
  • Ends Chris Baker and Phillip Merling both had strong fourth quarters, but they should. I’d be worried about them if they didn’t; Merling is a veteran while Baker is expected to make the roster. Merling plays with power while Baker’s game is trying to get upfield. I like what Kedric Golston brings at end. I haven’t asked the coaches this directly, but to me it’s a no-brainer to start Golston during Jarvis Jenkins’ four-game suspension. Golston has played well and understands everything this position demands.
  • Saw a mixed night from rookie linebacker Brandon Jenkins, who continues to show enough as a pass-rusher. He has a quick get-off at the snap, but what he showed Monday was the ability to play with power, too. Late in the game he knocked lineman Kelvin Beachum off balance by driving into his pads. Earlier, Jenkins affected a throw again by getting his hands into the chest of the left tackle and moving him back. He wasn’t really close to a sack, but he did generate some push. Jenkins had a tough time on a couple plays getting off blocks against the run. Jenkins lined up in a standup position as well as with his hand in the ground. He had success rushing from both ways -- early in the game, against Pittsburgh’s first O-line, Jenkins, standing up, got his right arm into the chest of right tackle Marcus Gilbert and pushed him back. Jenkins does not play with as much power as Tapp, but it was an aspect of his game that flashed Monday.
  • The Redskins still need inside linebacking depth, but that doesn’t mean a guy like Will Compton has no value. I’d definitely keep him on the practice squad. He strikes me as the sort of player who eventually will make it and last a few years.

What we learned: Redskins defense

August, 9, 2013
After rewatching the Redskins' 22-21 win over Tennessee, a few opinions were solidified, some shifted a little and a few discoveries were made:

1. Bacarri Rambo was put in a terrible spot by his front seven on Chris Johnson’s 58-yard touchdown run and, considering it was his first game, he had no chance. There was too much open field, though had he made the play it would have said a lot about Rambo. The fact that he did not just lumps him in with many other safeties. But the Titans' other touchdown run, by Shonn Greene, was a result, in part, of a poor angle by Rambo coming from deep middle. Rambo started too much inside, was a little too slow and any chance he had at making a touchdown-saving tackle was lost. Poor angles have doomed many a safety, and it’s a big reason why I was surprised Rambo opened as the starter from the first camp.

[+] EnlargeChris Johnson and Bacarri Rambo
AP Photo/Wade PayneRedskins safety Bacarri Rambo (right) couldn't keep Chris Johnson out of the end zone Thursday, but it was another Titans touchdown that showed Rambo taking a bad angle for a tackle.
2. Keep in mind the Redskins do not do any live hitting or any sort of drills that simulate what Rambo witnessed last night – certainly nothing at that level of speed. A key will be how he develops in this area throughout the preseason. In the end, these plays could be beneficial to the Redskins. Same with the 15-yard late-hit penalty he received at the end of the second touchdown run. He has to play with more discipline. If the Redskins have to start multiple rookies, there will be many lessons learned.

3. Phillip Thomas did a good job on the first play of the game, ducking under the tight end to race across the line and help on a tackle. But he got sucked too far inside on Johnson’s long touchdown run, helping to create the huge opening. Technically Johnson broke a tackle at the line, a shoestring attempt by Brian Orakpo. But in reality nobody had a shot at him because Thomas covered inside, then was blocked; Stephen Bowen and Chris Neild were blocked inside and Orakpo came upfield too far.

4. It wasn’t just the rookies who struggled with angles. Even linebacker Perry Riley took a poor one on a pass completion, leading to a 13-yard gain when Riley went too wide to the inside, allowing Greene to get wide.

5. The difference with Orakpo on the field? On the Ryan Kerrigan sack, the guard blocked Bowen, then allowed the center to take over while he slid to his left in case Orakpo cut inside vs. the tackle. This left Bowen in a one-on-one situation with the center. When the outside rushers Orakpo and Brandon Jenkins pinched the pocket, Titans quarterback Jake Locker could not step up because Bowen had collapsed the middle. Too often last year Bowen received double teams and could not be as effective.

6. Another point on Kerrigan’s sack: It came when he was aligned in a four-point stance vs. the guard. But the real point is that it allowed him to use his favored rip move. One difficulty doing it outside is that tackles can keep a distance and negate this move. Much tougher to do that inside, and sure enough it worked for Kerrigan. It'll be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Jim Haslett works his linebacker group in pass-rush situations.

7. I also forgot to note in the Ten Observations another play that stood out with Orakpo: Ducking under the left shoulder of the tackle en route to a sack. It was an impressive display of balance and explosion, one that Michael Roos could not handle. The Redskins had rushers go by linemen last season; not like this.

8. This wasn’t exactly Ken Houston stopping Walt Garrison, but it was a good job by David Amerson to stop Kenny Britt on a third-and-4 pass, leaving the Titans a yard short. Amerson played more physical than he had showed at N.C. State last season. He won’t look pretty in this role at times, but he just needs to be willing. He did allow himself to be cut by a blocker on one run; he’ll learn how to avoid those situations.

9. Brandon Jenkins did a nice job on some rushes, but his spin move will need refining. It did work one time when he dipped his right shoulder into the right tackle and spun back inside. It worked this time. But the next time he tried it, Jenkins appeared to start his spin a bit early and the right tackle had no trouble adjusting. He’s going to be at his best when paired alongside Kerrigan and/or Orakpo. I also think Jenkins will be a nice addition on special teams.

10. Seemed like Bryan Kehl was a step slow to the ball Thursday night, or a step slower than I expected at least. He didn’t really make any plays. Undrafted free agent Will Compton, playing alongside him, was decisive, but he has a ways to go. Roddrick Muckelroy did not distinguish himself, missing a couple tackles. He also got sucked up on a play-action pass on Tennessee’s second-half touchdown in which the flat on his side was wide open.

11. If you saw any of Chase Minnifield’s jams, you understand why the coaches consider him the most aggressive corner in this area. He practically jumps at the receiver and I worry sometimes about him getting off-balance. But I haven’t seen that happen yet. And I like how willing he is to hit.

12. One reason I like Richard Crawford is because he’s a smart player. In talking to him last year, it’s easy to see him becoming a coach someday. So it wasn’t a surprise that he knows how to play as a small corner. On his near-interception, Crawford forced the quarterback into a tough throw by being in good position in terms of his depth. When you’re shorter, you have to understand how to play and Crawford doesn’t have Amerson’s length. So he must be in even better position, and on this play he was.

13. Phillip Merling did what a veteran should do against backups: play well. He’s held his own against the No. 2 linemen in camp and he played with power Thursday. Chris Baker also showed a little bit at times; his best rush came when he remained low – that’s a lot of heft driving a lineman back. Baker did make a play by beating the tackle. There was one time in which he appeared to get upfield too fast and vacated his gap, leading to a hole and solid run.