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Practice News And Notes: 2019 Minicamp, Day 3

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Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels and Kyle Stackpole break down the key plays and highlights from Day 3 of the Washington Redskins' 2019 minicamp, presented by Loudoun Economic Development.

Offense

-- Veteran quarterback Case Keenum capped his first Redskins’ minicamp with several quality throws during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. During team red zone, he squeezed the ball between two defenders to connect with Brian Quick for a touchdown in the left corner. Keenum also led a successful two-minute drill that included a 40-yard deep ball to Cam Sims down the left sideline. The big play set up kicker Dustin Hopkins to convert a 48-yard field goal.

-- Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins struggled with his accuracy throughout Thursday’s session. He overthrew multiple receivers during 7-on-7 drills and at one point threw back-to-back interceptions, though the first one was not his fault. Jimmy Moreland simply took the ball from Cam Sims at the goal line and darted the other way for a would-be pick six. On the next play, Josh Norman got the best of Haskins in the front-right corner of the end zone for Norman’s second interception in as many days. Haskins’ team red-zone performance was mixed. He had another overthrow and took a would-be sack, but he also flashed his potential with a spot-on touchdown pass to tryout tight end Donald Parham over the middle. As for the two-minute drill, Haskins could never get into a rhythm during a drive stalled by underthrown passes and questionable drops.

-- When asked if any quarterback pulled ahead during the team's three-day minicamp, Gruden said, “We’re not even thinking about that right now." Gruden added it's too early to make a determination about the starting signal-caller, especially considering players were constantly rotating and that there were not even definitive first and second teams. Gruden said "true first-team reps" will start when training camp begins at the end of July.

"We'll let these guys continue to play and see which one continues to improve, which one is most consistent throughout the training camp and preseason and we'll go from there," Gruden said. "I promise you I feel good about any of the three playing. They're all great players and great competitors, they're picking it up well. They have qualities you want in a starting quarterback, so hopefully we make the right decision."

-- Gruden said 34-year-old running back Adrian Peterson looks more comfortable in the offense and noticeably healthier than he did during the end of last season when he fought through multiple nagging injuries. He'll be a part of what Gruden referred to as a "loaded backfield" with sophomore Derrius Guice and a host of others.

"Samaje [Perine] really has been the guy that has been most impressive. He's been out here taking all the reps. He's really improved in not only the running game, but also in the passing game. That's three pretty good backs right there," Gruden said. "Then we have Byron [Marshall], Chris Thompson and Craig Reynolds that have done an excellent job. ... It'll be interesting to see how it plays out."

-- Gruden doubled down on his praise of the wide receivers Thursday. He called them a "great group" with tremendous versatility, noting the speed of Paul Richardson and Terry McLaurin, the size of Cam Sims and Kelvin Harmon and the pass-catching ability of Trey Quinn and Josh Doctson, especially on underneath routes.

"We haven't even talked about [tight end] Jordan Reed part of that group and Vernon Davis," Gruden added. "It's a great group to have, a great group to work with."

-- Gruden said Quinn tweaked his hamstring and was held out of practice Thursday as a precautionary measure. “He’s been running a lot -- a lot, a lot.” Meanwhile, Paul Richardson (shoulder) was in full uniform again but only participated in individual drills.

Defense

-- With the majority of action taking place in the red zone on Thursday, the defense was on its heels but had the chance to force some big turnovers. That occurred on back to back plays with Haskins under center. On the first, Haskins targeted wide receiver Cam Sims on the goal line, but the ball popped off his hands. Self-proclaimed “pick machine,” cornerback Jimmy Moreland, snatched an interception through Sims’ arms and returned it for what would have been a touchdown. On the very next play, Haskins looked to the right side of the end zone for wide receiver Terry McLaurin but cornerback Josh Norman dove and grabbed his second interception of minicamp, right against the sideline. After returning it the length of the field, head coach Jay Gruden asked a referee to throw a fake flag and then teased Norman on his jog back that he’d gotten a hands to the face penalty.

-- Gruden took stock of minicamp at his presser and extended some praise towards the inside linebackers, which took a blow earlier in OTAs when linebacker Reuben Foster went down with a torn ACL. In his absence, newcomer Jon Bostic has been impressive and most of the group has learned both the Mike and Mo positions on the field.

“When I look at the tape on Shaun Dion, he has showed up more so than any time I've seen Shaun Dion,” Gruden said. “He's healthy. He's running faster, way faster now than he was this time last year. I mean he looks fast. He looks instinctive. He's what we thought we could get when we drafted him from Alabama. He's set. Obviously Mason [Foster]'s doing a good job, but I've been impressed with [Jon] Bostic. He came in here for a couple days. He picked up the system quickly. He's running around. He's playing fast, smart. You know he's a physical player, we can't tell that without pads on, but that's his MO as a player. I've been impressed with him. I've been very impressed with Cole Holcomb, the way he's running around there. He's fast, athletic.”

-- Adonis Alexander did return to practice after missing the first two days of minicamp with a groin injury. He participated mostly in individual drills, however, and observed the rest of practice from the sidelines. That’s where new defensive backs coach Ray Horton has been leading the group, and his presence has already made an impact on Norman, who told reporters on Thursday how much he’s been able to learn from Horton already and that he’s sparked his own desire to be coached.

"I’m still learning something each and every day," Norman said. "If I can get something from Ray and steal a couple of things from him and put it in my toolbelt, man how better off will I be?"

“They’re in shape, they’re strong,” Horton said of the secondary on Wednesday. “They have all that. But they need to really become coaches on the field and talk more. And I’ve got a very talented group of men but they’re very quiet. They just are. I need them to come out of that shell and be more vocal on the field and dominate. And that’s what I’m looking for: for them to really go, “I understand the defense and now I’m going to take command of the defense.”

-- During the final situational drills, the defense remained strong. Quinton Dunbar made a nice pass breakup against a slant throw to Vernon Davis, which was nice to see at full speed. Dunbar was put on Injured Reserve after the Thanksgiving game last year, but has returned to practice fully healthy from his nerve injury and should be ready to compete with Fabian Moreau for the second starting outside cornerback position in training camp.

Special Teams:

-- The special teams unit primarily worked on kickoffs again until situational team drills, when the field goal unit was called on quickly at the end of drives with an active play clock. Dustin Hopkins made 1-of-2 using the width-shortened goal posts and was 1-of-3 to finish off the whole practice. All three kicks would have been good had the goal posts been their usual width.

"I'm very impressed with Nate [Kaczor], he's very detailed and he brings great energy," Gruden said of his new special team coordinator. "He's a great coach to each individual player, as well as the group, and that's important. I think guys buy into his energy, it's legitimate and they understand the importance of special teams. I've made that point many times in our team meetings. They understand that if it's close between a position; we're going to go to Nate's room to find out who he likes better on special teams. The guys have bought in. We have some excellent special teams players and special teams leaders like Deshazor Everett. Those guys are doing a good job, but Nate has been excellent."

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