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Practice Notes: 2017 Minicamp, Day 1

Posted Jun 13, 2017

Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels break down the key plays and highlights from Day 1 of Washington Redskins 2017 minicamp.

Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels break down the key plays and highlights from Day 1 of Washington Redskins 2017 minicamp.


Offense:

--The Washington Redskins saw three familiar faces back at team headquarters on Tuesday for the first day of 2017 minicamp, with tight end Jordan Reed, tackle Trent Williams and running back Matt Jones all on the field. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said it was “great to see the whole group back.”

--Reed looked as sharp as the Pro Bowler typically does in season, catches passes all over the field. During 7-on-7 drills, for example, Reed caught three different passes in traffic including one in which he had to fully extend his arms to grab the ball. Over the last two seasons, the University of Florida product has been one of the most productive tight ends in the league, as he’s caught 153 passes for 1,638 yards and 17 touchdowns in 26 regular season games.

--The Redskins ended Tuesday’s session working the two-minute drill with the offensive unit starting from its own 30-yard line needing a go-ahead touchdown with just one timeout in the back pocket. The first-team offense achieved just that, as Kirk Cousins marched the group 70 yards down the field in just nine plays, hitting Reed for a 20-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone over cornerback Josh Norman. In celebration, Cousins shouted, “He’s back, baby!”

--The second-team offense, meanwhile, started the drill with a potential toe-touching interception from safety Deshazor Everett, but Gruden ruled the play an incompletion before quarterback Colt McCoy engineered a 12-play touchdown drive that concluded on an eight-yard touchdown reception from tight end Vernon Davis.

--Two wide receivers that were active during this two-minute drill were Jamison Crowder and Maurice Harris. Crowder caught three different passes from Cousins while Harris caught a 3rd-and-1 pass from Cousins and then a fourth down throw from McCoy to keep the second unit’s momentum alive.

--At the running back position during the first set of 11-on-11 drills, Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson rotated working with the first-team offense, Jones and Samaje Perine with the second-team offense and Mack Brown and Keith Marshall with the third-team offense. This, of course, can and likely will change as time goes on, as offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh noted last week that the offense will ride the “hot hand” at running back and this time a year ago Kelley was buried on the depth chart before working his way into the starting lineup.

--With Williams back on the field, Ty Nsekhe worked with the second unit at left tackle. Re-signed this offseason, Nsekhe serves an important role as the team’s swing tackle. Last season, the 31-year-old appeared on 388 offensive snaps. 

(Stephen Czarda)

Defense:

--Continuing to rehab on the side fields were rookies Fabian Moreau and Montae Nicholson, linebackers Martrell Spaight and Houston Bates, and veteran safety DeAngelo Hall. Hall spoke with reporters after practice and said hedoesn’t have an exact timetable for his return from an ACL injury he suffered last fall, but hopes that he can suit up at some point in training camp.

--The nose tackle position is an area that will continue to be a point of interest when the team makes its way down to Richmond. So far, for the entirety of OTAs, Joey Mbu has taken the most first team reps, and he continued to play there to begin minicamp. Eventually A.J. Francis and Ondre Pipkens got some time at the position as well. It should continue to be a strong competition as the defensive line sorts itself out in August.

--The inside linebacker position should also be something to keep an eye on. Tuesday, Compton and Foster started on the field together, as they have throughout OTAs, before coaches mixed and matched the pairings. Occasionally Zach Brown played beside Mason Foster in nickel and dime formations. Nico Marley also got a few reps in with the first team, playing along with Will Compton. He’ll probably best be used in obvious running situations for practices because his size disadvantage lining up against Reed is a little too easy to exploit in the passing game.

--While defensive coordinator Greg Manusky indicated that Josh Norman would travel with the team’s top wide receivers, he’s primarily played on the left side of the defense and given cornerback Bashaud Breeland the right side. That’s meant Breeland has mostly lined up with Terrelle Pryor Sr. at wide receiver and held his own. What was noticeable on some snaps was that Breeland wouldn’t necessarily stick with Pryor, playing off coverage and sticking in a zone, something that we may see more schematically from Manusky at training camp.

--Overall, the defensive backs made some nice highlights Tuesday in the passes defensed category. On 7-on-7 drills, Will Blackmon nearly intercepted an errant pass over the middle, while Deshazor Everett and Dashaun Phillips showed off their strong coverage skills on Brian Quick and Maurice Harris, respectively, forcing incompletions. Kendall Fuller, who has been getting the majority of snaps at the nickel position, made a nice diving play to break up a slant intended for wide receiver Jamison Crowder, and later Norman took on Pryor on a floater down the sideline and broke up the play.

--The defense didn’t fare as well near the end of practice when the offense went into its two-minute mode. Throughout most of the day, strong coverage down field presented Cousins with mostly check down options to running backs and Crowder, and the same results happened in the hurry-up until a touchdown to Reed over the seam. 

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

Special teams:

--Jamison Crowder, Chris Thompson, Zach Pascal and Will Blackmon lined up for punts, as usual. Partly because of the heat and partly because of his strong leg, Tress Way, punting from his own goal line, lifted the majority of footballs around 70 yards.

--Dustin Hopkins was perfect in field goal attempts, hitting a couple from the extra point line and finishing with a 53-yarder right down the center. 

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

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