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Practice News And Notes: 2019 OTAs, 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 Washington Redskins 2019 OTAs, presented by Loudoun Economic Development.

Offense:

-- For the first time in his green professional career, quarterback Dwayne Haskins faced off against a live defense – without the padding and 100 percent speed, of course – and began the next chapter as a member of the Redskins. While veteran Case Keenum, still easing his way onto the team, too, started the first day of OTAs under center, Haskins followed with the “second team” unit during the team portion of drills on Monday. Washington put him into a lot of familiar looks, primarily in shotgun to utilize some zone read options. This led to some quick play-action passes to the outside, including a few to wide receiver Cam Sims. The two seemed to have a good rapport together for most of the day, working on some crossing routes and some wide receiver screens.

"I didn’t have any expectations for today, I just wanted to execute," Haskins said. "The biggest thing for me was going to play right in the huddle."

-- As for any QB battles taking place, head coach Jay Gruden downplayed the talk, explaining that most important right now was for both of them to learn the offense. 

“They have to learn the system first, then go out here and participate in practice and then produce and make the right reads and throws,” Gruden said. “It’s going to be a process. It’s the very, very beginning and we’re installing plays for the first time for the group. You know we started a couple weeks ago, but now we’re actually going out and being able to practice against a defense for the first time which is a whole other step. So, it’s a long process and I think they both handled it well today. Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow and the next day and so on and so forth and I’m sure it will be a good, lengthy competition with some great players going at it."

-- The offensive line is a bit confusing right now. Without tackles Trent Williams in town and Morgan Moses fully healthy, the Redskins are going through some shuffling. Protecting Keenum to start the day included left tackle Tyler Catalina, left guard Ereck Flowers, center Tony Bergstrom (Chase Roullier was absent), right guard Brandon Scherff (who rotated frequently with Wes Martin) and right tackle Timon Parris. Tight end Jeremy Sprinkle admitted that some of the box packages early on will involve more tight ends helping in protection as Washington waits for its starters to return to action.

“I feel like the O-line we have out there is a bunch of reserves and backups,” Sprinkle said. “So playing with the other guys and building chemistry is always good. Whenever the guys get back we can all plug right in.”

Take a look at photos from the first day of OTA practices for the 2019 Washington Redskins.

-- Because it’s May and several players are still rehabbing injuries from last season, a small watch party assembled for practice. That included running backs Derrius Guice and Bryce Love, both of whom are returning on varying timelines form ACL injuries. Gruden said he expects to have Guice back by training camp, along with wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr., if not earlier. When asked about quarterback Colt McCoy, Gruden had the same answer.

-- With Guice and Love unavailable and Peterson absent, the bulk of carries went to Samaje Perine, who should benefit this month with a lot of reps. He took first team snaps nice cuts up into the secondary. Thompson and Marshall filled in during third down situations and Craig Reynolds got some run with the third teamers near the end of team drills. Eventually, it will be a very full running backs room. 

-- Jake Kring-Schreifels

Defense:

-- By far the biggest takeaway defensively is the health of inside linebacker Reuben Foster, who was carted off the field with an apparent left knee injury on the third play of the practice session. Speaking to the media afterwards, head coach Jay Gruden said Foster ran through a gap on the right side, stepped on the foot of offensive lineman Tyler Catalina and then landed “funny” on his left leg. Foster immediately crumbled to the ground and was writhing in pain, prompting coaches and trainers to come over and tend to him. A stabilizing cast was eventually placed on his left knee, and after staying down for about 10 minutes, Foster was carted back into the facility.

“Reuben is the type of player that he is and the energy that he brings. he wouldn’t be laying down unless something was wrong,” said Gruden, who said Foster was “devastated” about the injury. “We’ll hope for the best right now until we get the results, but, very concerning for sure. I’ll just have to wait and see before I get too emotional about it."

-- Monday afternoon was the public’s first chance to see the Redskins’ young and talented defensive front in action. Even before the draft, the Redskins were slated to have a strong unit with defensive linemen Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. But then the franchise drafted first-rounder Montez Sweat, who many in the organization think will be an immediate difference-maker opposite Kerrigan. And don’t forget: the Redskins still have 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson and emerging sophomore Tim Settle. It remains to be seen how all of these players will be used, but it also seems like a good problem to have, especially if everyone can remain relatively healthy.

-- Neither Landon Collins (shoulder) nor Quinton Dunbar (leg) participated in Monday’s practice session, but Gruden is confident both defensive backs will soon return to the field. Collins, an All-Pro safety who signed a lucrative deal with the Redskins in March, is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery he had in December, Gruden said. Still, the team expects Collins to be back to full health by training camp. Dunbar, meanwhile, is further along in his recovery process after landing on IR with a leg injury on Dec. 5. His absence from OTAs, Gruden said, is more precautionary than anything. Since his injury involved nerve damage, the Redskins want to make sure he’s 100 percent before being inserted back into the secondary. With Collins and Dunbar sidelined -- and Josh Norman and Montae Nicholson not in attendance for the voluntary workout -- Troy Apke, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Deshazor Everett and Fabian Moreau received the bulk of the reps.

-- A otherwise somber press conference with Gruden ended on a jovial note as the conversation turned to seventh-round draft pick Jimmy Moreland, a self-proclaimed “pick-machine” with the college numbers to back it up. His 18-career interceptions at James Madison are the most in school history -- 13 of which came in the past two seasons and six of which Moreland returned for touchdowns. So, it did not surprise Gruden when Moreland corralled the first interception of Monday’s session. Off a pass from rookie Dwayne Haskins, the ball tipped off the hands of third-round wide receiver Terry McLaurin and into the arms of the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Moreland, who burst down the left sideline. Afterwards, Gruden joked with the undersized Moreland that the non-contact session was “his kind of day,” and later told reporters, “I knew he was going to shine today." But then Gruden turned serious, voicing his excitement about the small-school ball-hawk joining the fold.

"He’s got great ball skills and he’s got a great confidence about him,” Gruden said. “He’s a great competitor. I love the energy that he brings. He’s a great competitor, and I think when the pads do come on for real, I think he’ll be right there in the mix with everybody.

-- Kyle Stackpole

Special Teams:

-- The special teams unit of kicker Dustin Hopkins, punter Tress way and long snappers Nick Sundberg and Andrew East remains in tact this offseason. Most of the work done on Monday was with the rest of the special teams unit, learning under new coordinator Nate Kaczor.

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