Practice Notes: 2018 #SkinsCamp, Day 6

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Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels and Grant Cohen break down the key plays and highlights from Day 6 of the Washington Redskins' 2018 training camp in Richmond, Va.

Offense:

-- Wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. shined the brightest during Wednesday’s practice. After turning his attention in individual work to creating a jab step to make his defender to think he was going deep, the former Seattle Seahawk had success catching short passes during 1-on-1 drills during individual work. He transferred that over when the team collectively met to run their offense, faking out the defense in order to snag long catches. Richardson had an easy 30-yard reception during 7-on-7 drills and made a diving catch during the second round of team skill work. Coming down with another 30-yard reception from Colt McCoy during that stretch, he finished his day being the primary target during late game situations where he helped lead the offense to critical fresh set of downs when the possessions were on third and long.

-- Not only was Richardson one to watch during individual work, but the rookie wide receivers got put on notice on Day 6. College free agents Cam Sims and Simmie Cobbs Jr. made the most of their reps with the first team during individual work, with Simms coming up with a touchdown thrown by Alex Smith. Trey Quinn was also making sure his name was relevant, capping off the first round of team skill work by making a 15-yard catch thrown by Smith. The last pick in the 2018 NFL Draft got most of his reps with the second team offense on Wednesday after spending a majority of his time with the third team in the prior practices. He finished off his day by reaching the end zone during the team’s red zone segment, seeing himself targeted a number of times when he got his chance.

-- A focus for the running backs was coming down with short passes. With running backs coach Randy Jordan emphasizing selling the run and spreading out for a pass during individual work, that concept carried over when the Redskins ran their offense. Setting up the defense by mixing up the run, the running backs found success in the passing game when they faked their handoffs and ran out for a route. After rookie running back Derrius Guice caught a 15-yard pass with the first team, the second team was having success with their running backs active in the passing game. Whenever Chris Thompson was in on the play, quarterback Colt McCoy looked for him when he stepped out of the pocket and successfully completed a couple of passes.

-- The wide receivers and the running backs weren’t the only ones having a successful day in the passing game. Tight ends Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and Jeremy Sprinkle were a critical part of Wednesday’s practice. Davis got the offense’s momentum going at the start of the team’s group setting, snagging a 50-yard reception despite being heavily guarded. After Reed made a few key catches, Sprinkle was the one that finished off the day. He made a couple of solid receptions when he was thrown to, carrying over the running routes worked on during individual drills. Head coach Jay Gruden was seen working with the receivers and the tight ends when the team split into groups, praising Sprinkle for his improved technique from last year.

-- A huge reason for the passing game success on Wednesday was due to the fact that the play-action worked so well. With the quarterbacks and running backs selling the handoffs, that threw the defense off and opened up holes for the wide receivers. This was noticeable early on with McCoy finding Maurice Harris with no problems, connecting on a 20-yard reception in his first attempted catch. The defense had difficulties at times knowing who to cover on the pass, largely because they were expecting the run.

-- With pass protection as an issue in Tuesday’s practice, the following day’s workout saw improvement. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan turned his attention in individual work on moving from one blocker to another, having one player block two separate guys. This seemed to pay off, as the quarterbacks did not have to move out of the pocket nearly as much on Wednesday.

-- Wednesday's practice ended with a scary sight, as wide receiver Josh Doctson attempted to catch an end zone pass during the team's late game segment. Doctson fell awkwardly, appeared to hurt his shoulder and immediately was seen by the trainers. The 2016 first-round pick tweeted "#allgood" an hour after practice, but Gruden will have the official word on Thursday.

Defense:

-- Linebacker Pernell McPhee wasn’t on the practice field today, likely a planned day of rest. In his place was Pete Robertson, who has looked solid throughout the first week of camp, earning praise from head coach Jay Gruden and teammates alike. On Tuesday he made a nice play to break up a pass at the line of scrimmage and Wednesday he continued to impress. He made a nice stop on running back Kapri Bibbs in the middle of the defense and then a play later, he stayed home on a bootleg from Colt McCoy, forcing an incompletion. While he’s been mostly relegated to the second and third units so far, because of McPhee’s absence, he worked in with the first-team defensive line and secondary on several team periods later in practice.

-- Some of the more intriguing and younger defensive backs on the roster include Danny Johnson and Kenny Ladler, who have been making their fair share of plays so far in camp. On Wednesday, Johnson made a diving play against wide receiver Brian Quick to break up a pass during team drills. During 7-on-7’s, Ladler exploited a miscommunication from quarterback Kevin Hogan and a wide receiver and intercepted him, a play that would have scored him a touchdown. Both will rely on their special teams to play to make a bid for a roster spot.

-- It seems that Phil Taylor Sr. will be the primary replacement for Daron Payne at nose tackle while the Alabama product remains injured. The unit looked strong today, especially when coupled with the outside linebackers. At one point, during the final hurry-up drill of practice, Jonathan Allen pushed center Chase Roullier onto his back during a pass play. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan also would have had a couple of sacks to his credit, using his bull rush against John Kling at right tackle to collapse the pocket.

-- There haven’t been too many headline plays from cornerback Josh Norman in training camp thus far, a product of Smith rarely challenging his side of the field. Norman finally got some opportunities at the very end of practice, as Smith aimed for the end zone on third and fourth down and Norman defended both. The first to Brian Quick relied more on him breaking up the ball in mid-air, while the second, against Josh Doctson, fell incomplete primarily because of his positioning and the tight window Smith as forced into. It was a welcome sign to see Norman use his athleticism and coverage in a couple of ways.

Special Teams:

-- Kicker Dustin Hopkins didn't work with the field goal unit to finish out practice, but kicked nerf balls again for blocking practice. Overall, it was a lighter special teams day.

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