RICHMOND—It was hot and sticky as the Redskins made their final preparations for their preseason opener in Cleveland in two days. Here are my observations from practice and some quotes from around the Bon Secours training center:
—The players were not in pads, although some wore shells. This is typical for a regular season Friday practice, two days before a game.
—It seems like the tight ends spend a lot more time working on blocking this year than they do on catching. The group moved from a blocking drill with the offensive tackles to one with just the tight ends. Although I can’t say for sure since I didn’t measure the time spent in any way, it appears that blocking is more of a priority than it was before.
—Robert Griffin III was about as sharp as he has been all summer, completing seven of seven passes in 11 on 11 work. It should be noted that since they were not wearing pads they were not going at full speed. Still, the Redskins have run practices at similar speeds during this camp and Griffin has not been as sharp.
—Griffin also had a perfect completion percentage during seven on seven work. He capped his six for six session with a 50-yard bomb to Pierre Garçon, who had beaten safety Duke Ihenacho. The pass settled into the receiver’s arms as soon as he crossed the goal line.
—When it was his turn, Kirk Cousins executed a similar pass. He lofted it to receiver Rashad Ross, who had a step on his defender. The pass was on target but the ball bounced out of Ross’ arms.
—Back in full team drills, Griffin threw one deep to Niles Paul, who had beaten linebacker Adam Hayward. The pass was on target and Paul “scored” easily.
—Kai Forbath had his second straight strong showing in field goal kicking at the end of practice. He split the uprights on all four of his attempts, from 30, 33, 38, and 40 yards
—Jordan Reed sees that things are settling down as his unit enters its second year working in Jay Gruden’s offense: “Everybody is where they need to be at. There aren’t as much questions for the coaches. Guys are just getting to a lot smoother.” How does quarterback Robert Griffin III look to him? “He looks real comfortable, man. His grasp of the offense seems pretty tight and he seems like he’s got it.”
—Injuries have forced the Redskins to scramble at cornerback. They signed two new corners last week and they moved wide receiver Quinton Dunbar to cornerback as well. Safety Duke Ihenacho was asked what the biggest issue is with the changes: “Slower communication. Sometimes you got to reiterate a check. If it’s a young guy, it’s like, ‘what’s that mean?’ Some guys just got here a week ago, they haven’t been here all offseason so we’re trying to catch them up to speed, they just have to learn the whole playbook. So when they’re out there with us, the veterans, there’s not just one guy out there, it’s two or three and it was hard to communicate.”
—Preseason openers are old hat to the veterans. But to players like rookie fourth-round pick G Arie Kouandjio they are something special: “I plan on playing a lot. . . I want to diminish as many mistakes as I can. I just want to play to the best of my ability, I just want to go out there and let my hair loose . . . and just play ball.”