Practice News And Notes: 2019 Minicamp, Day 2

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Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels and Kyle Stackpole break down the key plays and highlights from Day 2 of the Washington Redskins' 2019 minicamp, presented by Loudoun Economic Development.

Offense:

-- The lingering effects of last year’s injuries are still present with the Redskins. Upon new reports regarding left tackle Trent Williams and his absence from minicamp, several members of the offense have been continuing to rehab on the side fields and indoors. That includes running backs Derrius Guice and Bryce Love, tight end Manasseh Garner, wide receiver Robert Davis and center Chase Roullier. Most of these players should be back by training camp, head coach Jay Gruden said, with the exception of Love and Davis, the latter of whom will likely be placed on the PUP list.

-- On Tuesday, running back Adrian Peterson explained that he’d like to aim for 2,000 rushing yards this season, which would be an exceptional feat considering he’s 34 years old. Still, Peterson remains in great shape and looks to be shaking off the rust throughout minicamp, breaking through the defense and up the middle on a couple handoffs during the team portion of drills on Wednesday.

When asked about his teammate Williams, Peterson said he hadn’t heard about the new report regarding a trade demand, and that he talks to him all the time and “I’ve never heard him say that.”

-- The offense struggled more than it did on Tuesday, a product of good coverage down the field. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had trouble finding receivers in their intermediate routes and checked down to start practice but then got into a better groove during a rare 9-on-9 drill. He made a couple nice tosses to tight end Vernon Davis, who showed some sharp route-running today, and then to wide receiver Jehu Chesson, and that got him in the groove for the final situational drive of the day.

-- With 1:30 left on the clock and one timeout, Haskins led the offense from his own 25-yard line starting with about a 30-yard completion into an extremely tight window to wide receiver Kelvin Harmon, who grabbed the pass just above cornerback Jimmy Moreland. It was a pass Gruden then laughed about, saying it was one of those throws where you say, “No, no, no, don’t throw it, oh, nice pass.” After a couple runs from running back Craig Reynolds and a couple short incompletions, Haskins found Harmon again on a crisp out route at the opponents’ 5-yard line. To end practice, Haskins hooked up with his Ohio State connection, throwing a lob pass to the corner that Terry McLaurin, plastered by cornerback Deion Harris, reached around and grabbed in mid-air, ending the session with some shock and cheers.

-- Jake Kring Schreifels

Defense:

-- In speaking to the media Wednesday, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula struggled to contain his excitement when discussing his young and talented unit. Of course, there are the standouts -- Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne -- but Tomsula has also been impressed with players like Tim Settle, JoJo Wicker and Caleb Brantley -- all of whom are 25 years old or younger. The defensive line depth has allowed Tomsula to frequently rotate players throughout OTAs and minicamp. Doing so keeps the starters fresh and the reserves on a path of steady improvement, Tomsula said.

"Oh yeah, they’re sharp. It’s enjoyable," Tomsula said. "You get one of these groups and you wake up and high-five yourself because you’re excited to get to go to work with them. We’re all in the workplace. When you work with good people and work around people you enjoy being with, and they’re committed with a lot going on, you’re excited to get to work. That’s the way it is, you wake up and you’re excited to get with them.”

-- Rookie edge defenders Montez Sweat and Jordan Brailford excelled in multiple facets Wednesday. Sweat showed his unique ability to beat offensive tackles with his speed, strength and technique, while Brailford bested opposing linemen on several occasions. In a span of a few plays, Brailford shed a block to meet a running back in the backfield and then cruised around the right edge for a would-be sack.

-- First-year defensive backs coach Ray Horton sees everything (or at least it feels like he does). Standing in the defensive backfield Wednesday, about 25 yards from the line of scrimmage, Horton delivered the defensive play call and then communicated pre-snap instructions to the secondary -- just as he’s done during nearly every 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drill over the past few weeks.

Horton seemingly always has something to say afterwards, too. Sometimes he’ll conduct 1-on-1 discussions. Other times he’ll dish out general football principles. “Set the edge of the defense,” Horton bellowed upon seeing a running back go untouched around the right edge Wednesday. 

In Horton, the Redskins have someone with a quarter-century of coaching experience and six seasons as a defensive coordinator from 2011-16. And while his primary responsibility this year involves working with the defensive backs, he’s served as a respected defensive mind during OTAs and into minicamp this week.

-- A telling anecdote about Horton’s coaching philosophy actually occurred on the sidelines towards the end of Wednesday’s practice. Horton was talking through defensive positioning with first-team safeties Landon Collins and Montae Nicholson. At one point, Horton began acting out how he wanted Collins and Nicholson to be positioned.

When asked about the interaction after practice, Horton explained how there are several different types of learners (visual, spacial, solitary, etc.) and that many of his defensive backs are visual learners. In that situation, Horton felt the best way to connect with Collins and Nicholson was to show them exactly what he meant.

 “What better way to do it than he asks a question, and he described it to me, and I put my hands on him so I could say, ‘Well, you want to be here.’” Horton said. “The end goal is so everybody is on the same page.”

-- Speaking of the defensive backs, veteran Josh Norman occupied the side field well after practice going over technique with rookies JoJo McIntosh and Deion Harris. Norman was also the last player on the field Tuesday, working on his backpedal and change of direction.

-- Second-year cornerback Adonis Alexander was held out of practice Wednesday with a minor groin injury, Gruden said.

-- Kyle Stackpole

Special Teams:

-- The Redskins spent some time working on kickoff and kick return Wednesday. Back deep to return kicks were Byron Marshall, Darvin Kidsy, Samaje Perine and Craig Reynolds, among others.

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