What: Redskins veteran minicamp.
When: Practices are open to media on Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Where: Redskins Park, Ashburn, Va.
Storylines to monitor:
1-During OTAs, Kirk Cousins operated the offense more confidently, threw the ball with more conviction and, in general, appeared more polished. In Coach Jay Gruden’s words, Cousins displayed “great command” of the scheme, defensive concepts, snap count, protections and other details. “When you get command of the little things, it makes the big things a lot easier,” Gruden said. “He’s seeing things better.” Cousins, himself, acknowledged his newfound comfort level, adding, “I do think I’m playing with more confidence.” This week’s practices—while still no-contact—will provide Cousins with an opportunity to showcase that growth in a more intense environment…and he’ll get to do it with all of his (healthy) weapons on the field. A strong performance could also benefit the fifth-year signal caller as the July 15 deadline for agreeing to a long-term extension approaches.
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2-Speaking of attendance, DeSean Jackson is compelled to join his teammates this week as all meetings, practices and workouts are mandatory. Jackson, as you’re no doubt aware, has been in-and-out (but mostly out) during the voluntary portion of the offseason. Although no one has expressed any real concern about Jackson’s absences—he skipped last Wednesday’s practice after participating Monday and Tuesday—everyone will be happy to see him on the field, battling to get open against Josh Norman while also reestablishing his timing and chemistry with Cousins. These practices are, after all, the final on-field tune-up before training camp.
3-Injuries haven’t been a major source of concern for the Redskins this spring. But there are a few rehabbing players we’ll want to get a timeline on. At that top of that list is first round rookie Josh Doctson, who has been sidelined with a sore Achilles. It seems to be a minor thing, but how the wide receiver is handled this week will provide a little insight into the team’s level of concern.
4-The depth chart at the end of minicamp figures to be the starting point when the team reconvenes in Richmond in late July. The positions to watch are safety, where former Broncos special teamer David Bruton is zeroing in on a starting job, and left guard, which looks like it could develop into a three-way competition between Spencer Long, Shawn Lauvao and Arie Kouandjio. (Lauvao, who is still rehabbing a surgically repaired ankle, is expected to enter the fray later this summer.) It’s also worth keeping an eye on the defensive line, where there are several moving parts as the coaches seek replacement for both Terrance Knighton and Jason Hatcher.
5-How far have the rookies come? We’ve already mentioned Doctson’s situation; he’ll be playing catchup whenever he’s cleared to return. But how about Su’a Cravens and the other five members of the 2016 draft class? Now that they’ve got 10 OTA practice under their belts, how comfortable do they look? Are they playing faster? Making plays? And, more important, with whom are they working? Minicamp practices are longer and, typically, a bit more intense than an OTA practices. For the rookies, it’s one last chance to impress the coaches prior to the long summer break. For the coaches, it’s one last chance to assess whether a rookie can handle the job, or whether a veteran free agent needs to be brought in ahead of camp.
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