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Jay Gruden on Redskins rookie minicamp: All positive

Jay Gruden on Redskins rookie minicamp: All positive

ASHBURN - Sure the bodies were big and the uniforms matched the Redskins burgundy and gold, but on Saturday afternoon in Ashburn, it was clear to see that the football field was not full of NFL veterans. With rookie minicamp in full swing, the play is often sloppy, but for Redskins coach Jay Gruden, he saw plenty to like.

"They're all positive," Gruden said of his impressions of the rookie workouts over the last few days. 

Specifically, Gruden said he was pleased with the work from 1st-round rookie WR Josh Doctson and 2nd-round rookie safety/linebacker Su'a Cravens.

"He's a smart kid," Gruden said of Doctson. "He's been very impressive."

The 6'4" Doctson stood out on the field, both as one of the tallest players and with a strong blend of size and speed. For the bulk of the practice the media was able to watch, Gruden stayed with Doctson. The coach watched the rookie wideout run individual drills, catch passes from other rookie QBs, and work in 11-on-11 drills. In fact, Gruden grew frustrated with some of the rookie passers missing Doctson on routes, to the point the coach threatened to come in and throw the passes himself.

"A meaningless threat," Gruden joked after practice, adding with a laugh, "I was out of line as usual."

Talking about Doctson is easy for Gruden, it's obvious what position the rookie will play. Talking about Cravens, however, is not as simple.

"We're going to continue to figure that out," Gruden said of what position the former USC standout will play for Washington.

Throughout drills on Saturday, Cravens worked at the inside linebacker position, often next to fellow rookie Steven Daniels. Where Daniels has the body (5'11", 240 lbs.) to take the collisions of an inside linebacker, Cravens (6'1", 226 lbs.) might not. Besides, Cravens has the ball skills and playmaking ability to be lined up all over the field. 

"Initially we have to teach him a position," Gruden said of Cravens. "And for now it will be inside linebacker."

The coach made clear that there are plans for Cravens to "branch out" and play in nickel and dime packages. Drafted in the second round, it's also quite obvious the team has high expectations for Cravens to emerge as a hybrid linebacker/safety, a position emerging throughout the NFL as teams work to combat passing offenses. 

NFL people warn media and fans alike not to take too much from football drills where players aren't in pads. Even less should be taken from rookie minicamp, as the bulk of the players on the field have little chance of ever making a 53-man roster. That's why it's no surprise Gruden seemed most intent on watching his first round prize Josh Doctson.

Speaking of both Doctson and Cravens, Gruden said "We have high hopes for them."

On a practice field littered with tryout players, high hopes almost equates to high praise. 

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Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' defensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

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Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' defensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 20, 37 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at the 2018 depth chart—defense

The Redskins are likely to make a few more free agent acquisitions and there is the draft, but the depth chart is beginning to settle in. Let’s take a look at where the defensive side of the ball stands now. The offense was covered yesterday.

Defensive line: Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee
Backups: Terrell McClain, Anthony Lanier, Ziggy Hood

I wrote this on Monday afternoon wondering if I would have to edit it to add Jonathan Hankins but that has not happened yet. I have to think that they will use a top draft pick on a D-lineman if they don’t land one in free agency. That could create some competition between Hood and McClain for the last roster spot.

Linebackers: OLBs Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan; ILBs Mason Foster, Zach Brown
Backups: Ryan Anderson, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Martrell Spaight

Again, I thought I might have to edit this because of the return of Junior Galette or the addition of Pernell McPhee but as it is, the Redskins are looking for an additional reserve edge rusher to go with Anderson. There might only be room for two backup inside linebackers between Vigil, Harvey-Clemons, and Spaight.

Defensive backs: CBs Quinton Dunbar, Josh Norman; FS Montae Nicholson, SS D.J. Swearinger
Backups: Orlando Scandrick, Fabian Moreau, Josh Holsey, Deshazor Everett

I debated including Su’a Cravens here because he is on the roster, but I think that the odds that he will be on the 53-man roster in September are slim. If he doesn’t return they will need some help at safety. You can count on Scandrick playing in the slot. They seem to like both Dunbar and Moreau better on the outside and Scandrick can give Holsey a chance to develop inside.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 28
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 130
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 174

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

The Redskins seem to love former Cowboys. They signed another one today.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media is reporting that Washington has agreed to terms with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The early numbers put the contract at up to $10 million over two years.

Scandrick, 31, has played for the Cowboys since they made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. In nine seasons in the league, Scandrick has eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He has been plagued by injuries the last three years. Scandrick was out for the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016 he missed four games with a hamstring injury and he finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury. Whether his struggles last year were due to injuries or age remains to be seen.

Scandrick joins Nosh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Holsey at cornerback for the Redskins. Holsey is the only natural slot corner in the group and he played very sparingly as a rookie last year. Scandrick likely will fill the slot role until Holsey is ready.

We will see what the signing costs in terms of salary cap impact when we see the details of the contract. The phrase “up to” generally means that there are incentives included in the deal so we will have to see.

In recent years, the Redskins have signed former Cowboys defensive linemen Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, and Terrell McClain.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.