Here's what I'll be monitoring Thursday:
It’s the first day of practice and it could be a wet one. There’s a 50-percent chance of rain at the start of the 8:35 a.m. practice so there’s a chance we’ll get soaked (indeed the rain had started early in the morning). But it’ll be interesting to see how many fans attend the workout and see what sort of buzz there is surrounding the team. I remember long lines on the first day last summer. I will say there’s a strong feeling of anticipation among the players after the way last season ended. It’s not just Robert Griffin III who’s ready to get started -- and it’s not just because they have a new coach, either. It’s a fresh start for many and a chance for some to reclaim good vibes (like Griffin and DeSean Jackson). Gruden is not a guy who will generate buzz, but there’s a definite new energy and part of that stems from him and his decisions. In many cases the players are just ready to prove that 2013 was a fluke.
There aren’t any full-pad workouts allowed for Thursday or Friday, per the CBA agreement. So we’ll basically see what we saw during the spring workouts. That means it won’t be as revealing as you’d like them to be. However, after not having seen the players for a month perhaps you’ll see some changes in some of the rookies -- how much Morgan Moses is still bending at the waist, for example. There also isn’t a lot of surprise as to who will line up where. Keenan Robinson will open up alongside Perry Riley at linebacker, just as he had all spring. Robinson is a better three-down option than Darryl Sharpton or Akeem Jordan. But, for the most part, the biggest questions involve the punting and kicking game.
Players are available after practice, with cornerback DeAngelo Hall and Griffin scheduled to speak at the podium. Griffin will be much more available than in the past when he was limited to once a week. But early in the offseason it was clear that this would change, and it’s something Griffin likes. There are no pressing issues with him so the fact that he’s available does not mean there will be news every day. I’m anxious to talk to Hall after his few tweets the other night. He’s coming off a solid season, yet clearly feels overlooked when people talk about the game’s top corners. So yeah, that will come up, and I’m guessing he won’t shy away from speaking more on the topic.