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Thursday, May 29, 2014
DeSean Jackson melding with team

By John Keim
ESPN.com

ASHBURN, Va. -- The scene unfolded the way Washington hopes it does during the season. Receiver DeSean Jackson sped past the defensive back, showing the burst that used to drive the Redskins crazy. This time, though, it was to their advantage.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III unloaded the ball and ... missed him by a yard or two. Other times, Griffin and Jackson connected on a variety of routes. But having only worked together since early April and with more than three months remaining before their first game, they're still working on their chemistry. And they're still aware that there's something for them to prove this season.

"It's there," Griffin said of the chemistry. "He's been here the majority of the offseason program. I know there was a big splash because he wasn't here at the beginning but he's been here since then. He's so talented and has a wide catch radius. He can jell anywhere he goes."

The Redskins hope that's what he does this fall in Washington. Jackson is one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL because of his speed, having averaged 17.2 yards per catch in his career. With Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts, as well as tight end Jordan Reed, also among their top three wideouts, the Redskins will have plenty of weapons for Griffin.

But if Griffin and Jackson connect on downfield plays, it will give the offense the sort of boost it rarely received last season, for a variety of reasons.

"Our chemistry right now is a work in progress," said Jackson, who tweaked his left hamstring and sat out part of practice but said afterward he was fine. "The more we get out here and keep working and staying after practice and running routes and getting our timing down, I think sooner or later we'll be in great shape."

Griffin is coming off a down season, due in part to his surgically repaired right knee preventing him from working out in the offseason. Jackson had a career-best season with 82 catches for 1,332 yards, but Philadelphia released him in late March amid talk of issues both off the field and in the locker room.

"I have a job to do, which is to produce and do what I've done in my career," Jackson said. "Anything I can do to help contribute to winning games, that's what matters most. Anything else, I don't speak to that. I just go forward in my life and continue to move on and do great things.

"I have a good opportunity in Washington. ... I'm not going to get into changing up too much, just going out there and continue to do what I've been doing."

Griffin spent the offseason working out locally, then heading to Arizona to work with teammates as well as quarterback guru Terry Shea, who focused on his fundamentals. It was evident Thursday that Griffin had made changes: He held the ball at the top of his numbers, using a quicker release -- more over the top -- and having a more narrow base.

"Just back out there playing football," Griffin said. "We talked about it already, but getting the base to shrink a little bit from what I was taught before to just getting to what's natural. Being aggressive; being decisive."

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said they've harped on Griffin's fundamentals, but he likes how the third-year quarterback has handled the huddle and learned the new terminology. Gruden also liked that, one day after throwing an interception against a particular defense, Griffin made the proper read Thursday and completed a pass against the same look.

"This is all a learning process for him," Gruden said. "It's important for him to take natural strides every day and get better. The thing about Robert is that is his intent when he comes to work every day. He's a sponge for information."

As for Jackson, Gruden said he spoke with the receiver about his role and the expectations for him, something he said he does with every player.

"He's going to fit in just fine," Gruden said. "The players have embraced him, the coaches have embraced him and as long as he comes to practice with the right head on his shoulders willing to work like he's proven so far, there will never be an issue."

"It's always two sides to a story," Redskins receiver Santana Moss said. "To tell the truth, I don't want to hear about what went on. As long as he acts right and does what he has to do here, that's all we can worry about. Watching him for so many years, it's great to have him on our side."