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#HailMail: 2017 Training Camp, Week 1

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<span style="font-size: medium; font-style: italic;">Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about rookie free agent impressions, how Su'a Cravens is looking and more from training camp.</span>


Teddy E. asks: Which undrafted rookie free agent has impressed enough to possibly make the 53? #HailMail<span style="font-size: medium; font-style: italic;"></span>

During the training camp practices down here in Richmond, the younger players – particularly those at the wide receiver and defensive backs positions – get increased opportunities to shine in front of the crowds.

Right now on the 90-man roster, the Redskins have 10 rookie free agent signings. Of those 10, three are wide receivers (James Quick, Levern Jacobs and Zach Pascal).

All three have flashed at times in different ways.

During Tuesday’s practice session, Quick made one of the top catches of the day during a two-minute drill, hauling in a pass down the middle before a bump knocked his helmet off. An acrobatic play from the Louisville product, he didn’t show any issues extending out to make the tough play.

Jacobs, meanwhile, has showcased his 4.45 speed on a few occasions for a wide receivers group that is clearly bigger and more powerful than some of the speed they possessed last year when DeSean Jackson was in town.

He also made an impressive one-handed catch during red zone 1-on-1 drills earlier in the week.

As for Pacal, he had arguably his best performance of camp last Saturday when he made a handful of tough catches in the rain.

During 7-on-7 drills, Pascal made two tough catches including diving grab in front of cornerback Dashaun Phillips. Then during 11-on-11 drills, Pascal caught two more passes.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked specifically about Pascal last week and what he needs to do to make the 53-man roster.

For all three, it’ll come down to how much they pick up the offensive scheme from different wide receiver positions.

“The big thing for him is he’s got to have position flexibility,” Gruden said. “You’ve got to know all three and that’s tough for a rookie. Then he’s got to do some things on special teams that can crack into the lineup somehow, and that’s the start. Special teams are the start for a lot of young guys that are trying to make the roster. So if he can do well on special teams, that will be a huge plus for him. If he’s got position flexibility, that will be another huge plus for him. Then obviously he’s got to make the plays when they are given.”


Paris H. asks: How's Cravens looking at safety? #HailMail
This has been one of the most asked questions of training camp so far, as Cravens has clearly become a true favorite among Redskins fans.

Outside of one day when Cravens was sidelined with a hamstring injury, the 22-year-old has been working with the first-team defense at strong safety. And while free safety D.J. Swearinger has been the more vocal and active of the pair, Cravens is looking more comfortable at the safety position.

But he also was helped by a season at linebacker.

“I’ve always felt like I was a safety and even though I didn’t necessarily play linebacker, I felt like it helped me,” Cravens said. “It benefited me towards run fits, for seeing the bigger picture and just knowing everybody’s responsibility.”

“We put him at the linebacker spot and tried to blitz him, tried to use him around the football, and then this year we wanted to branch him off and play safety once he learned the system and how the NFL works,” Gruden added. “So far, it’s been a good project but we’ll see. He’s got a ways to go but I like his progress. I think he’s just going to get better and better."

Getting him around the ball will be a key this season as the Redskins seek to generate more turnovers and impact plays on the defensive side of the football. Cravens, of course, had a game-sealing interception against the New York Giants last season.

Dating back to his days at USC, Cravens did a little bit of everything for the Trojans’ defense as he recorded 10 sacks, nine interceptions and three fumbles forced in 40 games.


Rett C. asks: #HailMail OL interior depth seems thin. After Arie and Chase, who has best shot? Who will be the gameday interior backup? Who's 3rd center?
The Redskins’ starting offensive line, of course, gets quite a bit of attention as they’ve been one of the team’s most productive groups ever since Bill Callahan was hired.

Over the last two years in particular, they’ve experienced quite a bit of success with Trent Williams and Morgan Moses manning the tackle positions, Brandon Scherff playing at a Pro Bowl level, Spencer Long making a seamless transition from guard to center and Shawn Lauvao performing well when healthy.

Ty Nsekhe has also proven to be a reliable fill-in at tackle when needed. But what happens at the guard and center positions behind Lauvao, Scherff and Long?

First, to answer your question about a third center. During practices, Long has solidified himself as the starting center with Chase Roullier behind him. The Redskins also have Ronald Patrick on the roster after the South Carolina product spent last season on the practice squad.

While the Redskins likely wouldn’t carry three centers on the active roster, Callahan makes sure all of the guards take snaps at center during practice. That means after Long and Roullier – if those are the two centers who make the active roster -- someone like Arie Kouandjio could be called into action.

“All of the guards that we have in our system, they’re all cross-trained as centers,” Callahan said. “So, there’s going to be a point in time where they’re going to get practice whether it’s in post practice, pre practice with the center-quarterback exchange or even in a tight inside team drill where we’re focusing on the running game, so they’re all going to get thrown into the fray.”

Washington also has rookie guards Kyle Kalis and Tyler Catalina on the 90-man roster. Kalis started 43 games at Michigan while Catalina started 12 games for Georgia in 2016.

Could one or both show enough to make the 53-man roster? Check back soon.

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