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Redskins NT Terrance Knighton shows strength versus O-line

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Highlights and observations on the defense from the Washington Redskins first practice. Remember: no pads yet.

  • Strong safety Duke Ihenacho worked with the first defense with Jeron Johnson sticking with the second group. In the spring they rotated; we’ll find out Friday if that’s still the case.

  • Bashaud Breeland made two excellent plays and nearly a third. The first one, in the slot, came against receiver Ryan Grant. Breeland knew he had help inside (it was a one-on-one drill, but the coverage he was in would have helped inside). So he stayed patient and didn’t react to an inside move by Grant. When Grant broke outside, Breeland undercut the pass and nearly intercepted the ball. He did a nice job on another short route.

  • But it was a deep ball to receiver Reggie Bell that ended Breeland on the wrong end of a highlight play. Bell won off the line, but Breeland was able to catch up. However, as he jumped to break up the ball, Bell reached over him, grabbed it and held on. Strong hands. All Breeland could do afterward was give him a job-well-done slap. Breeland worked as the third corner, playing in the slot.

  • David Amerson was chastised by secondary coach Perry Fewell for not jamming receiver Rashad Ross. Fewell shouted at him, “You got big, long arms and you never touched his ass.” Amerson is clearly the fourth corner at this point.

  • The second defensive line Thursday: Kedric Golston (left end), Chris Baker (nose), Ricky Jean Francois (right end).

  • While Preston Smith looked every bit the rookie, second-year Trent Murphy had one strong rush versus rookie tackle Brandon Scherff, quickly beating him inside in full-team work. Murphy struggled versus Trent Williams in one-on-one drills. No shame there, but Murphy was too slow with his moves -- feeding into the knock that he overthinks them. He’s bigger and the Redskins liked what they saw this spring so we’ll see what happens.

  • Jason Hatcher showed his strength on one rush vs. rookie Arie Kouandjio. Just a big slap and knocked him aside and won. You could hear the slap from the sidelines. It seemed to stun Kouandjio, who failed to move his feet to counter.

  • Ryan Kerrigan made it look too easy versus Brandon Scherff in one-on-one work. A rip move worked the first time. The second time, Kerrigan used another rip move to the outside. Scherff tried to hold on, but Kerrigan turned and Scherff fell to the ground. This is good work for the rookie.

  • Terrance Knighton ended up using a spin move to work past center Kory Lichtensteiger, knocking him off balance and eventually to the ground. Whatever they list Knighton at (354 pounds), add a few more pounds. But he can play at this weight.

  • I thought left tackle Willie Smith looked fine during the spring so I was curious to see him in camp. He didn't stand out and was beaten by Jackson Jeffcoat on a rush to the outside. I couldn’t tell if Jeffcoat swiped the ball from quarterback Kirk Cousins, but Cousins lost the ball somehow.

  • Jeffcoat worked a stunt with Jean Francois, beating Kouandjio to the inside. It would have been a sack as Jeffcoat had to pull up.

  • Still a fan of defensive lineman Frank Kearse. I saw him drive back Takoby Cofield in full-team drills. He got his hands into his chest and won the battle.

  • I have harped on this a few times, but there really is a different energy with defensive coordinator Joe Barry in charge. What that means going forward, I don't know. But could be what the Redskins needed, along with more talent of course.