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Redskins rookie camp practice report--AM session

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Redskins rookie camp practice report--AM session

A band of some 65 players wearing Redskins helmets and consisting of draft picks, undrafted free agents, tryout players and a few first-year players took to the practice field at Redskins Park on Saturday for the second day of rookie minicamp. Here are some observations, most on the offensive side of the ball. I’ll take a closer look at the defenders during the afternoon session.

—Alabama quarterback Blake Sims was there as a tryout but he was not in yellow QB jersey. He wore No. 37 and was a running back, the position he started out playing as a freshman with the Crimson Tide before moving to quarterback. It appeared that it came back to him as he showed some good instincts and cutting ability.

—Fourth-round pick Jamison Crowder ran smooth routes and caught the ball well in individual drills. It’s hard to say if he’s NFL ready since he’s going against other rookies but he is pretty polished.

—Sixth-round pick Evan Spencer was observing but not participating due to a hamstring injury.

—Reggie Bell, an undrafted free agent, made a nice move to break clear of his defender over the middle but he draft a pass right in his hands. That’s not the way to surivive until OTAs.

—Tryout quarterback Anthony Neyer didn’t have a pass to his credit during his career at Southern California. He was accurate at times but wild at others. The throws that sail way over the receivers’ heads tend to stand out on film more than the accurate tosses with no pass rush. The latter is simply expected.

—Matt Jones is a north-south runner, no question about it. But he can make a move or two in the second level. He could be fun to watch in training camp.

—In one-on-one pass protection drills, they lined up Preston Smith against Brandon Scherff a few times. Scherff was a little bit ahead of Smith in this round. On one snap Scherff just stonewalled Smith and then in an immediate rematch the tackle stopped the defender again, although this time he has to get a grip on his jersey to slow him down.

—In the same drills Arie Kouandjio was aggressive trying to block his man, at times too much so. His technique is raw but his desire certainly is there.

—Austin Reiter, the team’s seventh-round pick, was a smoother operation and had more polished technique. It will be interesting to see what they have in mind for him this year.

—Undrafted free agent running back Trey Williams did a nice job picking his way through crowds and changing direction. We will see if he is as elusive when he goes up against the veterans later this month.

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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.