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Redskins training camp report, Day 3: First day in pads

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Redskins training camp report, Day 3: First day in pads

RICHMOND—The weather was a winner again today as practice was held under partly cloudy skies with temperatures that climbed through the 70’s as practice went on. Here are my observations:

—They were permitted to wear pads for the first time and most of the players were in shoulder pads, helmets, and shorts. The one exception was Ryan Clark, who wore football pants.

—They did special teams drills first, as they have been. Yesterday I asked Gruden why they did it that way. “A lot of teams have special teams in practice,” he said. “It just kind of disrupts the flow. Coach [Ben] Kotwica wanted to get the special teams done first – a big 15-minute period done first where they are focused in on it, they’re fresh, everybody’s involved in it and it’s worked out very well so far.”

—As you would expect, there was more contact with the pads on. The blocking on the kickoff return drills was almost live (although it was 2 blocking 2, not full team) and there was some hard contact made with the returner, though there was no tackling to the groud.

—Special teams assistant Bradford Banta was giving detailed instruction on forcing the opposing kickoff coverage team to commit to going one way and then setting up to run the other way. There was a lot of technical talk of spacing and moving the wedge.

—No changes on the second- or third-team offensive lines. Morgan Moses is still at left tackle and Tom Compton is on the right side.

—I don’t know how RB Silas Redd can make the roster; the numbers game at the position works against the undrafted free agent. But if he makes more runs like the nice one he popped up the middle during 11 on 11 work the coaches will have a tough decision to make.

—The play of the day was Robert Griffin III running a bootleg to the right and launching a deep pass to DeSean Jackson. It should be noted that undrafted free agent cornerback Courtney Bridget had the coverage.

—The defense made amends a few snaps later when they reacted quickly to a bubble screen to Jackson. A mass of bodies in burgundy shirts (the color the defense wears) corralled Jackson out of bounds.

—The play of the day on defense came from Chris Baker. Griffin handed off to Pierre Garçon on an end around. Baker shot into the backfield and got Garçon for what would have been about an eight-yard loss. That drew a very enthusiastic response.

—There were quite a few snaps with the first-team offense going against the second- and third-team defense. Mike Shanahan’s philosophy was to run the 1’s against the 1’s almost exclusively. Gruden doesn’t do it that way. "You’ve got to test them, see if they're any good,” he said yesterday. “You have got to put them in with the ones, you have got to put them in with the twos. You have got to mix and match, mix and mingle these guys. You can't just put them in threes against threes all the time because then you don’t know how good they really are.”

—DeAngelo Hall made a pretty easy pick-six of a Griffin pass that was intended for Jackson in the flat. Hall just sat on the route, jumped in, and made the pick. He rolled near the end zone and when Darrel Young approached him he flipped the ball over to Ryan Kerrigan, who stepped in for the TD.

—It was starting to get quite warm towards the end of practice and some sort of scuffle started to seem inevitable. It finally happened when Tom Compton and Darryl Sharpton got into it a little bit. No major punches were thrown and order was restored quickly.

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!