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Redskins practice report, Day 18: Fan appreciation day

Redskins practice report, Day 18: Fan appreciation day

RICHMOND—It was Fan Appreciation Day here and 7,130 fans turned out. They watched a practice that has some entertaining moments; here are my observations:

—OT Trent Williams was held out of practice with a knee injury. It was nothing serious; according to Jay Gruden he probably could have practiced but he was held out as a precaution. Willie Smith and rookie Takoby Cofield took snaps at left tackle in his place.

—Rookie Austin Reiter was lined up at center during a run blocking drill and was calling audibles at the line. That is a lot of pressure for a young player and it’s an underrated part of learning the position.

—Wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard pulled WR Rashad Ross aside for some individual instruction. It’s usually a good sign when your position coach is taking the time to give you pointers; he usually doesn’t do that to guys who don’t have a shot.

—OLB Junior Galette made his first appearance in pads for the Redskins and he participated in 11 on 11 drills. He didn’t do anything spectacular in very limited action. After practice, he said that he hopes to play in the Redskins’ third preseason game in Baltimore on Saturday, August 29.

—In a move that I have never seen, the players took off their pads about halfway through practice. Some switched to shells (lighter pads), others went with no pads.

—They went to seven on seven work and Robert Griffin III put on a nice show. First he dropped back and launched a bomb to Ross. The pass seemed almost effortless and it was right on the money to the receiver. Then he did the same thing again, throwing to WR Tony Jones. Then he went down the left sideline to Pierre Garçon. Although there was no pass pressure, the passes were delivered on time and in rhythm. A good showing by Griffin.

—The pass to Jones did not end well for the offense, however. CB DeAngelo Hall was beaten on the play but he recovered to knock the ball out of Jones’ hands after the catch. Hall came up with the ball for the turnover.

Colt McCoy had a tough day, getting picked off twice. During seven on seven work CB Everett Deshazor made a nice grab of one of McCoy’s throws to the flat. Later in full team drills he tried to fit one in across the middle but CB Tajh Hasson make the interception. After Kirk Cousins had a good preseason game on Thursday, the pressure is on McCoy if he wants to stay in competition for the second QB job.

—With the Redskins having lost both Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen for the season, they are looking for anyone who can play tight end. They had tackle Tom Compton lined up there for a few plays. He played tight end in a few games last year and can provide an extra blocker when needed.

—In some red zone work, Griffin passed through a tight window to complete one to WR Evan Spencer and then he ran it into the end zone on a quarterback draw.

Kai Forbath’s training camp got off to a rough start when it came to making field goals but he recovered last week, going eight for eight in practice and then kicking two field goals, including a 52 yarder, in Cleveland. But he regressed today, missing three of four tries. He was good from 33 yards, but then missed from 35, 40, and 43.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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