Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Redskins OTAs: Thoughts and observations
By John Keim
ASHBURN, Va. -- Thoughts and observations after the Washington Redskins organized team activities workout Wednesday:
DeSean Jackson returned to practice and did get open deep on a couple occasions. The first time, on a deep cross, he got behind the secondary and had enough time to haul in an underthrown pass from Robert Griffin III. Brandon Meriweather was about five or seven yards behind him.
Later, Jackson narrowly beat Bashaud Breeland on a deep ball down the left side. But Breeland deserves credit for good coverage. He was a couple inches from making a deflection; Griffin stuck it in a tight window. He and Jackson celebrated with a chest bump.
Receiver Leonard Hankerson again worked off to the side as he recovers from his torn ACL. Coach Jay Gruden still has no idea when he'll be ready. On Wednesday he ran short routes -- hitches, slants -- at around half-speed and looked fine doing it.
During individual drills, the quarterbacks worked on throwing over a defender and at other times they worked on looking off their primary targets and then throwing the other way. Good reinforcement. And during a special teams drill, Griffin worked off to the side with offensive coordinator Sean McVay on sprint rollouts and bootlegs, making sure to get the proper depth after his play fake.
I liked the way Trent Murphy was able to come up under control against the returner in a special teams drill. Not bad for a big guy.
Griffin worked on some hard counts Wednesday, drawing the defense offsides on a handful of occasions. He was not always sharp on the intermediate throws, though there were a couple of big connections deep. One of his best throws was to rookie receiver Ryan Grant down the middle; corner Blake Sailors was there, but the pass was perfect. Not exactly the combo that will be on the field this fall, but it was a good throw nonetheless. Griffin did miss an open Jordan Reed on one deep crosser and Roberts on another. But Griffin is still doing a better job keeping the ball high, leading to less wind-ups -- and a quicker release than last season.
Safety Ryan Clark helped force an incompletion to Reed by playing insid, with linebacker Perry Riley playing him man to man. Griffin had to throw it to the outside and Reed didn't have a chance. After the play, Clark yelled to Riley, "Tell them you're a cover linebacker!" Clark is non-stop with his talking (more on that in a future post).
Gruden is confident that he'll find this year's punter out of Robert Malone and Blake Clingan. If Malone shows any consistency, something he has not done in the past, then he'll be interesting. He gets a lot of hang time on his punts in practice (last year with the New York Jets, though, he'd have some excellent hangtime followed by low liners).
Jason Hatcher doesn't play too upright, but he does have a high stance. At 6-foot-6, it's understandable, but he definitely is higher before the snap than the others. But he's able to play with good leverage inside.
Saw Hatcher get a nice spin move inside Shawn Lauvao and, another time, got his hands in the guard's chest and drove him back, forcing Griffin to hop out of the way. Hatcher also got outside Lauvao and would have sacked Griffin if it had been a game. Instead he pulled up and Griffin connected with tight end Jordan Reed downfield. They celebrated a long gain, but Hatcher was right there.
After working at left guard last week, Josh LeRibeus spent Wednesday on the right side. Tough to say how he looks other than he's in much better shape than a year ago. That will help. Entering last offseason there was optimism about his future, until he showed up out of shape.
Another change: Morgan Moses was back at right tackle, after playing on the left side last week. Tom Compton worked on the left side Wednesday. By the way, and I'll have more on this later, but Moses is well aware of his need to stay low. Definitely something he's focused on. Moses' head is still on a swivel and you can tell at times how much learning is still going on; led to a missed block on linebacker Adam Hayward on one run (as one coach was yelling for Moses to ‘Get there! Get there!').
Did see Moses push linebacker Brandon Jenkins to the ground on one rush outside. Jenkins had earlier beaten Maurice Hurt to the inside on another rush. Jenkins is going to have a much tougher time making the team this season.
Corner DeAngelo Hall was not at practice after cutting his chin during Tuesday's workout. He was also headed to Atlanta.
Linebacker Akeem Jordan had good coverage on a pass down the middle that quarterback Colt McCoy underthrew. Jordan's back was to the pass, but he still managed to break it up. He was typically removed in passing situations with Kansas City last season.
Nose tackle Barry Cofield participated in individual drills, something he did not do the first two weeks we saw. With Cofield still sidelined during team drills, Chris Baker worked as the No. 1 nose tackle with Jarvis Jenkins and Hatcher as the ends. Cofield said he will be 100 percent for training camp.
Meanwhile, Adam Gettis also worked at right guard, his more natural spot. But it's important for these backups to be able to show they can play more than one spot.