ASHBURN, Va. -- Highlights from the Washington Redskins' practice Thursday:
The running backs had a rough day in the pass-protection drill with the linebackers. I’m going to write a little bit on that Friday because this drill really is designed for the linebackers to win. And in theory it should make the running backs better when they get to game-like conditions. That’s not always the case.
It was a particularly rough day for Roy Helu, who needed to do a better job keeping his head up (as did others). At one point, running backs coach Randy Jordan shouted to Helu, “Stop it!” And Helu lost one time to Jeremy Kimbrough, who went around Helu’s left prompting Jordan to yell that they can’t end on that one (earlier, Helu had defeated Kimbrough). Alas, Akeem Jordan drove through Alfred Morris on the next one to get to the dummy bag (serving as the quarterback). Earlier, Morris was chastised for not keeping his head up against Jordan. Morris typically had been OK throughout camp.
I really don’t know where the running backs are at in game-like settings this summer because there’s only been one game and the Redskins ran quite a bit. But there’s no Clinton Portis or Tim Hightower on the field when it comes to this area. Portis remains the best back I’ve covered in pass protection.
Tight end Jordan Reed showed his athleticism and that wide-catch radius (which became sort of a term last season). Reed reached back for one grab from Robert Griffin III, snagging it with his right hand without breaking stride. Griffin also had a nice throw to him with safety Ryan Clark having tight coverage. Griffin did a good job adjusting his throws on the run with a defender in his path.
Safety Phillip Thomas returned after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury and drew praise from secondary coach Raheem Morris on consecutive plays. Thomas read the play well on a deep ball (which Bashaud Breeland also helped defend). Next play, Thomas read a screen to Santana Moss and raced up fast.
Morris also shouted praise to safety Bacarri Rambo for how he filled the hole against one run. Rambo later blew an assignment on a deep ball. As the coaches chastised Rambo, safety Ryan Clark, also in the area, told him it was his fault. The coaches stayed on Rambo.
Corner Chase Minnifield did a nice job on a deep post to receiver Ryan Grant from Kirk Cousins. Grant could not pull away from Minnifield -- the ball was slightly underthrown, but not a whole lot. Minnifield jumped over Grant and nearly made a pick.
Grant did make one grab where he had to reach behind for a Griffin throw, drawing praise from his teammates for the catch.
Cousins looked like he went with an option play that blew up on him. The line appeared to block for an inside handoff so left tackle Morgan Moses blocked to the inside. But Cousins wanted to hit the receiver on a quick pass. Rookie Trent Murphy ran untouched at Cousins and would have resulted in a quick sack or batted pass.
Keenan Robinson had good coverage on Reed on one route, forcing Griffin to throw wider than desired -- and the pass fell incomplete. Perry Riley took away a seam route to Reed in the red zone.
One of the last players off the field: Tight end Logan Paulsen. The Redskins’ best blocking tight end stayed longer to work on his blocking, notably his hand placement on a particular set. During full-team work, linebacker Brian Orakpo took on Paulsen, set a hard edge and forced the ball carrier to cut back inside to a group of defenders.