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Redskins mailbag: Comparing Gruden's camp

8/15/2014

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins mailbag returns after another one-week hiatus. This week: Sean McVay, how Jay Gruden's camp compares to others, some passing-game talk and undrafted free agents. Enjoy.

John Keim: He'll definitely have more say in planning and helping in meetings, etc. So there's a big bump in responsibility and what they want him to do. He'll also have more say on game days. But Jay Gruden will call the plays so McVay will be able to ease into this role. Maybe in a couple of years he can take over the play-calling too. For now, though, he'll have some of the responsibility. McVay is a smart coach so I'm confident he can handle this role.

Keim: That's a lot of camps to compare to. But here's what stood out from Gruden's first camp: There was a lot of passion and energy from the coaches, not just him but other new assistants such as Randy Jordan and Brian Baker. Not only does that help on the field, but it helps in meeting rooms too. It's different than it was under Mike Shanahan; whether it's better we'll find out in a few months. Gruden isn't as passionate as, say, a Marty Schottenheimer. But you can see how much Gruden enjoys being on the field and in his current role. Meanwhile, the players rave about Baker in the meeting room. Makes life more fun for them. Gruden is self-deprecating and quite honest, which is a welcome sign. He's not afraid to criticize and let players know what they must work on, but he is not someone who only will rip a guy. He's definitely more suited to being an NFL head coach than guys like Steve Spurrier or Jim Zorn -- and he communicates better than Norv Turner. Of course, we need to see Gruden coach a real game and then 15 more to get a better feel for that aspect. Gruden's camp was more physical than Shanahan's. It's tough to compare that aspect to others, though, because the 2011 CBA changed training camp practices.

Keim: No, I can't. At least not Andre Roberts (barring injuries to others). Jackson missed time in camp with various leg ailments and that didn't help. But they will find plenty of ways to get the ball in his hands; they have to, whether it's in the air or on reverses. I can see Garcon and Reed being the top two pass-catchers in terms of numbers; Reed in particular works well with Griffin and gives him the size no other receiver can. Griffin looks to him quite a bit in the red zone and on third downs and I can't blame him. Reed can be a difficult matchup for defenses, especially if the Redskins counter with speed all around him with the above three wideouts.

Keim: Not sure I see any making it right now, at least none who went undrafted this spring. But running back Silas Redd has a shot to earn one with a good final three games. He showed last week that he's a physical runner, but he still has a ways to go. He also plays a position where there's no clarity after the first two backs (Alfred Morris and Roy Helu). Two undrafted receivers, Rashad Lawrence and Lee Doss, have flashed at times. But not enough to make the 53-man roster.

Keim: Depends on which player. Sort of a cop-out answer, but there's no one-size-fits-all answer when cutting a guy. With the receivers, for example, I just don't see any of the young undrafted guys looking so good that he can develop into something. So why keep one over a guy like Santana Moss, who can help you this year if needed? You don't. They can find players like their other undrafteds pretty much most years. But Morgan Moses is not someone who can help this year, at least not early, but his long-term potential will keep him around.

Keim: Not sure who has been underrated, but perhaps maybe a little overlooked: Kory Lichtensteiger. He's had a solid camp in his first summer at center and has kept things quiet in the middle. The only time he's had some issues were in one-on-ones against New England's Vince Wilfork once or twice. But in full-team work, Lichtensteiger, when I've been able to watch him, has looked solid. It's sometimes tough though to know who's underrated because anyone having a seemingly good camp has been discussed. But Lichtensteiger deserves credit for how he's handled the switch.

Keim: Don't know yet, but I do know that there is and always has been concerns about his durability. When you can't get on the field and there are questions about your durability, that's not a good sign. But the other young backs have to do something to separate themselves from the pack, especially in the passing game. Neither has done so yet. So Thompson still has a shot at making the roster. But he needs to return for the final two preseason games -- and then show something.