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Practice Notes: 2018 Minicamp, Day 2

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Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels break down the key plays and highlights from Day 2 of the Washington Redskins' 2018 minicamp, presented by Loudoun Economic Development.

Offense:

--Head coach Jay Gruden said Tuesday that he expects Alex Smith to be effective starting Week 1, that he’s picked up the system well, handled his transition smoothly and wants the focus to be on winning this year. Still, between now and then, Smith will still need to adjust to his new targets downfield. That primarily includes wide receiver Josh Doctson, who continues to work on his rapport with Smith during team drills. The biggest factor is Doctson’s height, and Smith is still learning how exactly to exploit that characteristic. Wednesday proved that their chemistry is still a work in progress, as they missed on two passes – one in which the ball wasn’t thrown high enough, the other not far enough. They’ll have plenty of time to iron out the wrinkles and to establish trust in training camp.

--Of the young wide receivers, Cam Simms from Alabama has taken some nice strides over the last few weeks. Gruden alluded to him at the podium Wednesday saying he’s caught his eye. He’s struggled a little in coming down with deep balls from quarterback Kevin Hogan but got more reps today and made them count. The most impressive was a comeback route, in which he snagged a pass just in front of cornerback Danny Johnson by the sideline, turning up field for more yardage.

--Gruden said he wanted to get a better look at quarterback Kevin Hogan and the rest of the third team players inside on Wednesday, so they received the bulk of the team drill snaps in the last half of practice. Hogan did allow what would have been a pick-six in a red zone drill, but looked sharp afterward. The final sequence of the practice included a two-minute situation that ended with a touchdown in which the entire offense looked in sync. Hogan got things going with a 20-yard run up the middle and then found running back Martez Carter for another big gain on a short pass over the middle. Hogan then connected with Trey Quinn for a 20-yard gain before eventually finding tight end Matt Flanagan in the front corner of the end zone. Carter added some more highlights earlier in practice. He has no problem catching the ball, is very confident with it in his hands and makes the right cuts upfield.

--Those rehabbing remained the same. Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe and T.J. Clemmings rounded out the offensive linemen along with running backs Chris Thompson and Keith Marshall, doing work on the side. Williams spoke after practice and said he should be ready before training camp, allowing him to get in some more work prior to heading to Richmond.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

Defense:

--For the defensive unit, the highlight play of the day came from rookie cornerback Greg Stroman during red zone work. On a 3rd-and-goal play from the five-yard line, quarterback Kevin Hogan tried to find fullback Elijah Wellman for a touchdown in the right front corner of the end zone. Stroman, however, jumped in front of the pass for what would have likely been a touchdown the other way. Stroman is trying to crack the 53-man roster after being selected in the seventh round out of Virginia Tech. The 5-foot-11, 182 pounder had nine career interceptions with the Hokies.

--Another player that had a near interception during Wednesday’s practice session was linebacker Mason Foster. On quarterback Alex Smith’s first attempt during 11-on-11 drills, the veteran signal caller tried to locate wide receiver Josh Doctson, but Foster got in front of the pass and almost intercepted the ball but couldn’t quite hang onto it.

--Speaking of the linebackers, Josh Harvey-Clemons once again began the day’s unit work alongside Foster but Zach Brown got his reps, too.

--After he was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, safety Troy Apke admitted that he was going to have to make a name for himself early on special teams. But the Penn State product will also provide Washington depth in the secondary. On Wednesday, Apke made one of the best plays of the practice session when he knocked down a pass intended for tight end Jeremy Sprinkle.

--While the team’s draft class and the trade for Smith were the most talked about additions for Washington this offseason, linebacker Pernell McPhee could ultimately turn out to be an important player, too. During Wednesday’s practice, the eight-year veteran was getting pressure on Smith against rookie tackle Geron Christian. Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, of course, continue to be a potent one-two pass-rush punch, but McPhee will get his time in the rotation. McPhee has recorded at least four sacks in five different seasons.

(Stephen Czarda)

Special Teams:

--During punt return drills, wide receivers Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris and Trey Quinn, cornerback Greg Stroman and safety Trey Apke lined up deep.

--The practice session ended with kicker Dustin Hopkins attempting five fields. He converted on all five.

(Stephen Czarda)

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