Practice News And Notes: 2019 Minicamp, Day 1

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Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels and Kyle Stackpole break down the key plays and highlights from Day 1 of the Washington Redskins' 2019 minicamp, presented by Loudoun Economic Development.

Offense:

-- Perhaps the biggest news surrounding mandatory minicamp Tuesday concerned the only player not in attendance: veteran offensive lineman Trent Williams, who reportedly wants a new contract. In talking to the media after practice, head coach Jay Gruden said he spoke with Williams, who he called the “best tackle in pro football,” and added that whenever he returns he’ll be ready to play.

“I want him back in the worst way,” Gruden said, “but there is a business side to it.”

Even had Williams shown up Tuesday, Gruden said he would not have been able to practice. Williams is still recovering from offseason surgery to remove a growth on his scalp.

-- Veteran Case Keenum looked to be the sharper of the two quarterbacks Tuesday. He delivered well-placed throws to several different receivers. He connected with Trey Quinn on a few short passes, Vernon Davis on a couple of out routes and Cam Sims on several different occasions. Keenum then made three consecutive completions during the team portion of practice, capping the flawless drive with a 60-yard bomb to Sims.

Haskins also had moments of success, connecting with Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin on a few plays, but the rookie first-rounder was somewhat inconsistent throwing the ball throughout the session. Constant pressure, which mostly came against reserve offensive linemen, did not help, either.

Haskins also experienced a lapse in judgement at the end of practice. Late in the two-minute session with no more time outs, Haskins saw his receivers covered and took off running . Earlier in the game, that might have been the best play. But in the final seconds and without any way to stop the clock, Haskins’ decision to run would have ended the game.

-- Running back Adrian Peterson and wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. were both in attendance Tuesday after missing the first two OTA sessions.

From his opening carry, Peterson looked like the workhorse who eclipsed 1,000-yard rushing mark a season ago. He was patient yet explosive, routinely waiting for running lanes to develop before bursting through them. With sophomore Derrius Guice expected to be fully healthy by training camp, it’s unlikely Peterson, now 34 years old, will match his 251 rushes from 2018. Still, he'll surely serve as a pertinent piece for what should be a loaded backfield this fall.

Richardson, meanwhile, was in full uniform Tuesday but was limited as he continues recovering from shoulder injury that landed him on IR in November. The veteran wide receiver went through individual workouts but stood off to the side during 7-on-7 and team drills. It seems like only a matter of time before Richardson is a full participant.

-- The biggest offensive standout Tuesday was wide receiver Cam Sims, who seems to have a solid rapport with quarterbacks Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins. Keenum and Sims hooked up several times during the session, first on a deep route and then on a quick slant during which Sims beat cornerback Josh Norman to the inside. During 11-on-11 drills, Sims showcased his big-play ability. On a go route down the right sideline, Sims ran right past All-Pro safety Landon Collins and caught a well-thrown deep ball from Keenum for a 60-yard touchdown.

-- Kyle Stackpole

Defense:

-- The most notable player that returned to the team for the first time this spring was cornerback Josh Norman, who’s had a busy offseason traveling around the country. In his return he met some healthy competition and a likely sparring partner for training camp in wide receiver Cam Sims. The two jawed in good nature at each other throughout practice after each winding up with the football on separate plays. Sims made an impressive catch over Norman, who then followed that up with the lone interception of the day, jumping and falling on his back to collect a Case Keenum pass intended for Sims. Norman was tight with coverage for most of the day, getting adjusted to his new teammates, including Landon Collins in the back end. Fabian Moreau played opposite Norman with the first-team defense while Quinton Dunbar played with the second team on the outside.

"His first day was good," Gruden said of Norman. "He’s in great shape, and I knew that wasn’t going to be an issue. He takes excellent care of his body. I was happy with where he was mentally, picked everything back up effortlessly. Lined up and made a nice interception today, so it is good to feel his presence out there and to see him make a play."

-- It’s impossible not to hear Rob Ryan during individual drills. The journeyman coach seems to be having a lot of fun coaching up the inside linebackers unit, talking throughout drills and motivating his group on each drill. Marquis Flowers has taken Ryan’s baton and has enjoyed talking at the offense after the ball goes dead. During first-team 11-on-11 drills, a much slimmer-looking Mason Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton lined up beside each other while newcomer Jon Bostic played the Mike position for the second unit. It will be interesting to see if he can break into the first defensive unit in training camp as he learns the system better. It’s also worth noting that rookie Cole Holcomb has also looked solid, especially on one play near the end of practice in which he shed a block on a screen and slid through to stop running back Byron Marshall.

-- The primary defenses at this stage of the offseason are “base” and “nickel,” and so it’s easy to spot how the coaching staff is working in different defensive backs when the offense runs out a few wide receivers. Right now, there seems to be a mixture of options they can consider, including Deshazor Everett, Greg Stroman and Josh Harvey-Clemons. Rookie Jimmy Moreland, who has been working on the outside some, also worked a little on the inside on the slot, where head coach Jay Gruden likely envisions him this season.

-- The defensive line will be the one position where the starters – Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne – are set, while the rest of the group battles for a few roster spots. They continued to get a nice push against the offensive line, which won’t be at full strength at least until training camp, and that hampered the offense from humming. “Stay off the quarterbacks!” Gruden yelled at one point during team drills, an indication that each snap put Keenum, Haskins and Woodrum into extremely close proximity with a rusher.

-- Speaking of pass rushers, Ryan Anderson looked quicker off the edge on Tuesday, playing opposite Ryan Kerrigan with the first team. Rookie Jordan Brailford also looked strong engaging with the offensive line off the right edge.

Special Teams:

-- Long snapper Nick Sundberg didn’t participate in practice today as he aims to be fully healthy for training camp. He had back surgery right before the offseason, which prompted the team to sign Andrew East, who has been working in his place for the last few weeks. During the punt portion of special teams practice, the punt returners back for the team included Trey Quinn, Greg Stroman, and Steven Sims.

-- Before practice ended, kicker Dustin Hopkins showed off the leg, and more importantly his accuracy. Working on the width-shortened goal posts, he made all five attempts, the furthest of which sailed more than 50 yards.

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