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Redskins Return Home To Prepare For Browns

Posted Aug 14, 2014

The Washington Redskins on Thursday had their first preseason practice at Redskins Park after spending the past three weeks at training camp in Richmond, Va.

The Washington Redskins now know the 2014 regular season is just around the corner.

The team on Thursday conducted its first preseason practice at their Redskins Park headquarters in Loudoun County, Va., after spending the previous three weeks away at training camp in Richmond, Va.

Now there’s just 24 days between Thursday’s practice and the Redskins’ 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. In those three-plus weeks, the coaching staff must whittle down the roster from 90 to 53 players – plus the practice squad – all while making sure they are putting together a top-notch game plan for Week 1.

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said he could definitely sense a more competitive atmosphere in Thursday’s practice.

“That's what it's about,” Griffin III said. “We've got 90 guys and only 53 make it, and that's not counting practice squad. I don't think anybody comes out here every day to work with the goal of making the practice squad.”

Griffin III said nobody wants to be called into the coach’s office during cut day, so every player is paying extra special attention to every detail.

“It's always a tough day, cut days in the NFL, but everybody's trying their best and doing their best and making sure they're dotting their I's and crossing their T's,” he said. “And you can see it.”

First-year Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said he came away from Thursday’s practice feeling as if the defense outperformed the offense.

The offense, he said, “really took it to the defense” on Tuesday – the final training camp practice in Richmond – and thinks the defenders “geared it up a notch” on Thursday.

“It was great to see our defense come out with a chip on their shoulder, rush the quarterback, communicate very well in two-minute, and they had a great day today,” Gruden said.

Gruden said, overall, Thursday was a “great day” for his squad.

“We got a lot done today, so it was fun to see,” he said.

Thomas returns; Meriweather out
Phillip Thomas on Thursday participated in his first practice since July 31, when the second-year safety strained his hamstring in Richmond.

After missing his entire rookie season last year with a foot injury, Thomas was gaining momentum during offseason workouts until injuring his hamstring and missing the past two weeks both in practice and in the team’s preseason opener vs. the New England Patriots.

Gruden said it was good to see Thomas – the team’s fourth-round (119th overall) pick in last year’s NFL Draft – get the chance to run around and make plays again.

“He looked like he was moving fine,” Gruden said. “I don’t think he had any recurring injury from it. That’s the first step is to make sure you go out there, practice and then if there’s no soreness, then we know we’re on the right track to getting him 100 percent.”

In other Redskins injury news, Gruden said safety Brandon Meriweather missed Thursday’s practice with a minor toe injury.

“Got a little blood underneath his toenail,” Gruden explained. “(He’s) limping around a little bit, but he should be OK."

Tight end Jordan Reed also was a full participant in Thursday's practice. He was sick and had missed three days of practice earlier in the week, and was limited in Tuesday's final training camp practice.

Pass protection an emphasis
The Cleveland Browns finished ninth in the NFL in total defense in 2014, and Gruden knows they aren’t likely going to take their foot off the pedal in Monday night’s preseason game at FedExField.

Gruden said he’s expecting the Browns to feature a blitz-heavy attack, so he’s trying to make sure his running backs are going to be prepared for that challenge in pass protection.

“All we’re doing is trying to teach fundamentals – their base, their footwork, all that good stuff,” Gruden said. “Anytime we have got pads on, we’re going to work on that.”

Gruden said that at this point, he feels “most confident” with veteran Roy Helu Jr. handling pass protection duties on third down, but knows he needs to get all of his running backs into the game at some point to get that critical experience.

“It’s just a matter of getting them out there and picking up some blitzes and seeing how they do – if they stick their face in there and protect,” he said. “We’ll go from there and make the decision.”

Hankerson’s status
Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson continues to recover from a torn LCL that required surgery and ended his season last November.

Hankerson has been seen getting lots of work on the side with the team’s strength coaches, but the 6-foot-2 Miami product is yet to get back onto the practice field this year, and has been placed on the Physically Unable To Perform (PUP list).

Asked if Hankerson could remain on the PUP list going into the first game of the season, Gruden acknowledged that could be a possibility.

“We just have to see if he is healthy or not,” Gruden said. “If he’s not healthy then that obviously will be an option so we have to wait and see when he gets cleared from the doctors and I’m not sure when that is going to be yet.”

Hankerson was just catching fire in the two weeks leading up to his injury last season against the Philadelphia Eagles, hauling in two touchdown passes and recorded back-to-back 50-plus-yard games.

When he does return, he’ll be trying to get a spot on a roster that features an already-deep and talented group of wide recievers, like Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, rookie Ryan Grant and Aldrick Robinson.

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