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Practice Notes: Packers Week (8.16.17)

Posted Aug 16, 2017

Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels breaks down the key plays and highlights from the Washington Redskins' practice Aug. 16, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center.

Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels breaks down the key plays and highlights from the Washington Redskins' practice Aug. 16, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center.


Offense:

--While the offense at times had difficulty moving the football against an active defense on Wednesday afternoon, they had success scoring during simulated two-minute drill situations. The first-team offense started on the 40-yard line going in needing a touchdown with just 1:15 left on the clock. It would take just two plays to go the distance, though, as quarterback Kirk Cousins’ first pass attempt was incomplete before hitting tight end Niles Paul in stride for a 40-yard touchdown. Paul got just past inside linebacker Mason Foster to haul in the ball. As for the second-team offense, quarterback Colt McCoy completed three-of-six passes, the last of which was to Brian Quick for a touchdown with just three seconds on the clock.

--The first-team offense was also asked to score from 1st-and-goal at the 10-yard line with just 22 seconds left on the clock. Cousins hit wide receiver Jamison Crowder – who returned to a full workload after a hamstring injury recently limited him – for two five-yard completions, the second being a touchdown in the front of the end zone. On his first catch, Crowder ran a perfect route to get both open and out of bounds quickly. Head coach Jay Gruden noted it was a “great spot” that Crowder found.

--Along with Crowder returning to a full workload, second-year wide receiver Josh Doctson (hamstring) returned to practice, but only participated in individual drills. Gruden said the team will determine later this week if Doctson will play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Packers.

--During red zone work, Cousins hit wide receiver Ryan Grant in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown that was punctuated with the quarterback slowly pumping his fist and guard Brandon Scherff praising him.

--Gruden also confirmed that the offensive line competition behind the starters remains open with both Kyle Kalis and Tyler Catalina working with the second-team offensive unit and Arie Kouandjio with the third-team offense, as was the case for the last few practices in Richmond. Gruden wants to see what he has in both Kalis and Catalina, who can play both tackle and guard.

--During a 3rd-and-4 play in third-down work, rookie running back Samaje Perine picked up a blitz from safety Will Blackmon perfectly, pushing the veteran out of the way to extend the time in which McCoy had to get the football out. Gruden said this is the most difficult aspect of the game to pick up for rookie running backs, especially when there’s changes made at the line of scrimmage. 

(Stephen Czarda)


Defense:

--The Redskins defense saw the return to practice of linebacker Preston Smith, who had missed more than a week with an ankle injury, but it was still missing some of its key contributors. Working on the drill field remained linebacker Junior Galette, waiting on his hamstring to heal, while linebacker Ryan Anderson didn’t participate in any drills. Safety Su’a Cravens, meanwhile, will be out for the remainder of the preseason after receiving a knee scope. Head coach Jay Gruden said he received the injury on the third play of the Ravens game jumping on a pile.

--One of the more noticeable changes to the first team defense occurred at middle linebacker. Zach Brown and Mason Foster played as a pair for the entire practice while Will Compton played alongside Martrell Spaight with the second team. During a red zone drill pressed up against the goal line at the end of practice, Compton then played with the first team. Gruden said after practice that he is still determining the rotations, and emphasized some of the strengths of each player, noting Compton’s intelligence and leadership on the field and Brown’s speed and athleticism, which made him so valuable as an offseason addition. As the preseason continues, there should be more clarity and consistency in the packages.

--As Cravens is out for the next couple of weeks, the team will likely rely on Deshazor Everett to take over at strong safety beside D.J. Swearinger. After what he described as a poor practice over the weekend, Everett made sure to be sharper with the first team on Wednesday, noticeable early on when he charged the box on a run play and popped running back Rob Kelley after just a yard. Like Swearinger, he’s become more vocal as his confidence has grown. On a pass play to Niles Paul, Everett forced an overthrow from Cousins thanks to tight coverage and later made his best play cutting into an underneath route and breaking up a pass to Jamison Crowder. Between Everett, Will Blackmon and Montae Nicholson, the team will have three more games to determine who can play a role on the starting defense depending on Cravens’ status.

--The red zone defense started out pretty well, but eventually gave up some pass plays in the end zone. Still, intensity seemed to be at an appropriate level as the team prepares for its second game. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland looked strong in coverage and was in locations he needed to be to make tackles – the team played in shorts so no real tackling was made – and his teammate, Quinton Dunbar looked solid as well. He recorded an interception to end training camp in Richmond and picked off Colt McCoy again on Wednesday, sprinting up the sideline and showing off his speed. 

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)


Special Teams:

--Practice began with an extensive session dedicated to punt returns and another session the middle of practice focused on kickoffs and returns. Back working on returns besides running back Chris Thompson was Breeland, Blackmon, Matt Hazel and Zach Pascal.

--Dustin Hopkins ended practice making 4-of-5 field goals, hitting from 33, 38, 43, and 45 yards and missing left from 35 yards. 

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

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