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Practice Notes: 2018 #SkinsCamp, Day 1

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Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels breaks down the key plays and highlights from Day 1 of the Washington Redskins' 2018 training camp in Richmond, Va.

Offense:

-- Head coach Jay Gruden put together a strict practice plan together for the first day, making sure nobody took his time switching fields or between practice sessions. “We’ve already lost 10 seconds,” he yelled early on as the team transitioned to 7-on-7 drills. While they didn’t participate in any team drills, and occasionally individual drills, it was nice to see Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson, key pillars in the Redskins offense, all running briskly around the field.

-- Quarterback Alex Smith is still getting adjusted to terminology, to his teammates, to his confidence in his targets, but already there are signs he’s comfortable and capable of adding another dimension to this offense. He tested out just about every throw, though didn’t take a deep shot yet. Still, what was impressive was his pocket presence, rolling laterally and up through the pocket, connecting on passes while moving forward towards the receiver. His most emphatic moment came on a tight window pass to wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who grabbed a low angle pass just above the ground. Smith clapped his hands and greeted his smaller target with enthusiasm.

-- It was a solid day for wide receivers up and down the roster. Let’s start with Robert Davis, who made an impressive touchdown grab during 1-on-1 drills against cornerback Greg Stroman. Playing mostly with the second unit, he made another good grab on a crossing route pass from quarterback Colt McCoy. Trey Quinn and Crowder each showed how difficult it will be to defend their speed and agility in traffic, working nicely as Smith rolled around in traffic. The best catch came from veteran Brian Quick, working off cornerback Fabian Moreau, who leapt over the second-year defensive back and darted across the field for a 60-yard touchdown.

-- Josh Doctson, after missing a couple well-defended passes during 1-on-1 drills, started to find a good rhythm with Smith in the team portion. He grabbed a pass sprinting out of bounds with a nice toe drag and then, late in practice, grabbed a bullet thrown to his back hip that surprised safety DJ. Swearinger, and Doctson spun by him upfield.

-- It’s easy to get caught up in the perceived depth chart based on the way Gruden implements reps with different units. That will especially be the case with the running backs group, which will be scrutinized heavily by the coaching staff. It’s one of the deepest units on the field, led by veteran Chris Thompson, still getting his legs under him throughout the next week or two. Last year Rob Kelley took the majority of the first-team reps, but rookie Derrius Guice got a solid handful of snaps Thursday, taking handoffs from the gun and catching a few passes during team drills, too. With Samaje Perine, Kapri Bibbs, Byron Marshall and Martez Carter all in the mix, there will be a constant rotation.

-- Because Williams, Moses, Ty Nsekhe and T.J. Clemmings aren’t participating in team drills, Geron Christian Sr. and John Kling will benefit with increased reps at tackle. Williams said after practice that it’s hard to keep observing after doing so much of it at the end of last season, but is glad he can mentor the younger players as they get more experience.

Defense:

-- Linebacker Zach Brown will be day-to-day with a quad strain, as announced by the team, after he seemed to tweak it during the very early portion of practice. Josh Harvey-Clemons filled in for Brown the remainder of practice.

-- The starting base defensive line consisted of -- much like spring practices -- Matt Ioannidis, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. Already it seems like Payne has made a difference – though admittedly it’s tough to make any defensive judgments without seeing players in pads. His quickness and ability to burst through the line is apparent, however, and teammates on both sides of the ball are already impressed with him. The second unit defensive line put together Anthony Lanier II, Phil Taylor Sr. and Ziggy Hood, though Jim Tomsula does a good job of mixing and matching.

-- There doesn’t seem to be a ton of position battles this year for starting spots, but one area that’s up for grabs will be the second outside cornerback position. Orlando Scandrick began the team session there but, like he did throughout minicamp, switched over to defending the slot. Quinton Dunbar took over most of the remaining reps on the outside, while Moreau worked there with the second squad.

-- Defensive back Kenny Ladler grabbed an interception off quarterback Kevin Hogan and then took a big hit from his intended target, tight end Garrett Hudson. After the session ended, Ladler got some love from the secondary. Cornerback Adonis Alexander didn’t get too many opportunities during 11-on-11 team drills – he mostly worked in individual and 7-on-7 drills – but it’s abundantly clear he’s the biggest corner on the team.

Special Teams:

-- There wasn’t a ton of special teams work, but coordinator Ben Kotwica spent the majority of his unit’s practice time making sure players didn’t jump ahead of Dustin Hopkins on kickoffs, carefully monitoring them with the newly implemented rules.

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