REDSKINS ON TV: Don’t forget to catch all the action between the Washington Redskins and the New England Patriots at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on NBC-4 and Comcast SportsNet!
Chalk it up to a learning experience.
That’s what Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said Monday about his team’s first of three joint training camp practices with the New England Patriots in Richmond, Va., where both the Washington offense and defense had its successes and its struggles.
Offensively, Gruden commended his team’s running game – which is not surprising, considering the Redskins have had a Top-5 rushing unit in the NFL the past couple seasons, and return most of the same pieces this year.
The first-year head coach did say, however, that his receivers could’ve responded a little better against the physical New England cornerbacks, something he hopes will improve by Tuesday’s afternoon practice.
“It’s a great test for our guys,” Gruden said. “It’s something that we’re going to have to work on – our releases all the time and how we’re going to get off. Inside releases and outside releases, still maintaining our depth, integrity of our route, and I think we got knocked off quite a bit today.”
Defensively, Gruden said his team was challenged by New England’s hurry-up offense, especially with future Hall Of Fame quarterback Tom Brady under center.
The communication was there, Gruden said, but his team still has a little work to do stamina-wise.
“One, you see how we are in shape and I noticed that on the fourth and fifth play of a couple of those drives, some of our guys were coming off real high and they weren’t coming off the ball, and it’s something we have to address, as far as making sure our guys are in shape,” Gruden said. “We didn’t give up any big plays, but I think just from a stamina standpoint, we have to get better and better, and we have five or six weeks to do that before Houston (in Week 1 of the regular season).”
Gruden was asked Monday about the development of safety
Rambo played in 11 games in his rookie season – starting three – but had trouble at times with his tackling, despite being extremely talented in other phases of his game.
Gruden said Rambo – like all other returning players with something to prove – will primarily get his chances to shine during the team’s preseason games.
“He’s playing, he’s trying to get better, but he’s another guy that it’s going to be very important to see how he does in the preseason games, and if he has improved in his tackling,” Gruden said. “That’s very, very important. He’s got great ball skills. He’s got a good feel for the position. He’s playing with a little more confidence, which helps, so hopefully he can bring the tackling along with the strides he’s made, both mentally and physically, in the back end.”
Depth chart is out
The Redskins on Monday released their unofficial depth chart for Thursday’s preseason opener against the Patriots at FedExField, but Gruden said it was more a formality than anything.
Gruden said the depth chart is a “good starting point,” and that this early in the season, many spots that are close will go to the more veteran players.
“Let the preseason games play it out,” Gruden said. “That could be changeable. We could change it after our first preseason game. We'll see how it goes.”
‘Very, very close’
The Redskins this offseason bolstered their defense by signing defensive end
Since recovering from his surgery, Hatcher has been seen working hard on the drill fields at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center with the team’s training staff, and, although he’s not quite ready to return to the practice field, Gruden anticipates it won’t be much longer until he is.
“He's doing a great job,” Gruden said of Hatcher. “I watch him out there doing individual drills and working. He's very, very close. I can tell you that.”
Gruden said Hatcher will return when he’s officially cleared by head trainer Larry Hess.
Standout plays, highlights
With the Patriots in town for practice, Monday’s morning session certainly had a different vibe attached to it. Here’s some of the more notable plays and highlights from the practice:
Monday morning’s Redskins-Patriots joint practice saw 21,047 passionate fans make their way into the facility -- a 2014 best for attendance, topping Saturday's Fan Appreciation Day.
For those planning on going to Tuesday’s practice, remember it begins at 1:35 p.m., and you must have a ticket via the team’s lottery system for guaranteed access.
Like Monday, however, fans without tickets will be eligible to line up in a designated standby line near the entrance to the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center along DMV Drive.
Fans in the standby line will be admitted on first-come, first-served basis according to available space and safety considerations, and are encouraged to arrive early.
Also, there will be no walkthrough practice session on Tuesday.