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Here's what was different in Bill Callahan's first practice as compared to Jay Gruden's sessions

Here's what was different in Bill Callahan's first practice as compared to Jay Gruden's sessions

Whether Bill Callahan's results will look different than Jay Gruden's results remains to be seen, but it's already clear that Bill Callahan's practices will look different than Jay Gruden's practices.

Now, any time there's a drastic change like a head coaching switch on a football team, it's natural to over-analyze every little thing to try and make comparisons between the new and the old. Hm, are the players wearing their socks higher? Are they drinking more Gatorade? DO THE WHISTLES SOUND LOUDER?!

That said, there are parts of Callahan's operation that stood out on Wednesday, his first as interim leader. Here's a recap of all the key differences.

  • The stretching formations were adjusted a bit. The captains — guys like Brandon Scherff and Case Keenum — were facing the rest of the team and were positioned at the front of the lines. Callahan called it "a positive when your leadership is up there on a daily basis, and players can emulate [them]." 

 

  • There were referees in attendance, up-and-comers who do college games and who are trying to ascend to the pro level. Callahan explained how those refs can help the Redskins be better with everything, from formation alignment to hand placement to other aspects. The Burgundy and Gold have seen lots of yellow through five weeks thanks to major penalty issues, so perhaps the refs at practice can help them cut down on flags.

 

  • While Gruden's practices featured plenty of music, with it starting in stretching and carrying over into individual drills, Callahan's de-emphasized tunes. Jay-Z and other artists were still present during warm-ups, but once the team broke into their positional work, the music was cut off. 

 

  • Here's a small one, but an interesting one nonetheless. There were four stationary bikes along the sideline on Wednesday, which was a new spot for them. Reuben Foster was riding one at one point, and Dustin Hopkins used one a few minutes later as well. Callahan wasn't asked about this switch afterward, but it seemed to communicate to the players that even if they're injured or not suiting up that day, they're going to remain as close to the action as possible.

 

  • Those were the big tweaks obvious to reporters during the early period open to the media. At the end, meanwhile, the team could be seen doing sideline-to-sideline sprints. That happened in training camp under Gruden, but witnessing it in Ashburn was quite new. Callahan installed those to remind his roster about the importance of conditioning. He isn't a fan of how they've finished games and believes being in better shape will correct that problem.

 

  • When he was in charge of the offensive line, Callahan kept his centers, guards and tackles on the field far later than any other position. Well, on Wednesday, every position stayed a little extra after sprints for what was labeled a "developmental period." It allowed each coach to tutor his guys on a specific skill or area and was especially designed for the younger players who weren't as involved in 11-on-11 snaps to still get work in. 

Now, a few things need to be said after that recap.

Many of the changes seem quite logical and like they'll benefit the team; why not bring in refs if you're one of the more penalized squads in the NFL, for example?

However, it's easy to point at what Gruden did and what Callahan is doing and conclude that Gruden's practices were trash and Callahan's are top-notch. Just because a lot of this is new doesn't mean it's all going to have an enormous impact.

That isn't to dismiss Callahan's tenure, it's just to remind people not to get super, wildly, overly excited.

In fact, know what very well may be the most crucial difference this week? The Redskins are playing the Dolphins instead of the Patriots. If Washington wins in Week 6, the quality of opponent is likely to be a larger factor than the decline in music in Ashburn. 

Of course, change can be useful, especially for an 0-5 bunch. But let's give it a month or so to allow these changes to really set in before making a proclamation on them one way or the other.

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Four factors that could prevent Brandon Scherff from signing a big deal with the Redskins

Four factors that could prevent Brandon Scherff from signing a big deal with the Redskins

With less than a week to go until their July 15 deadline, "there isn't much optimism" that the Redskins and Brandon Scherff will be able to nail down a long-term contract, per an ESPN report.

If the two sides can't come together, then Scherff will play out the 2020 season on the franchise tag.

On the surface, there's obvious reasons for both the team and the player to commit to a multi-year agreement.

For the former, the reason is that Scherff is a very useful asset on the offensive line, making him a very useful asset for another very useful asset, Dwayne Haskins.

For the latter, the reason is that Washington is where Scherff wants to spend the rest of his career, which is according to Scherff himself.

If things keep tracking the way they appear to be going, though, then that one-year pact will kick in and some drama will follow after that. 

Here are four factors that could be to blame, should that conclusion come to fruition.

A lack of familiarity 

Thanks to the pandemic, Scherff and Ron Rivera haven't had a chance to really get to know each other as well as they normally would. That matters. 

Rivera is clearly in control of the Burgundy and Gold now, meaning he has a very strong influence on how hard the organization is trying to lock up the 28-year-old. Perhaps there's some uncertainty on his end because he simply isn't that familiar with Scherff. The same could be said for Scherff, too.

The previous regime clearly valued Scherff from the day they selected him fifth overall in the draft. This new one, unfortunately, just hasn't had the opportunity yet to build up the same appreciation.

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Uncertainty about 2020

This is another pandemic-related one, and it's something that could be particularly affecting Scherff.

While the NFL clearly plans to go full-speed ahead with its schedule, there's tons of skepticism that they'll actually be able to pull off a season. Just look at how much trouble the other leagues are having, then think about how football — with its large swath of large men and constant contact — may have the most difficult time of all.

Does now seem like the most solid ground for Scherff to sign on the dotted line? When it's still so unclear what 2020 will look like? Not exactly.

Injury history

Factor No. 3 is one that surely is having some impact on the Redskins' viewpoint.

Scherff ended both 2018 and 2019 on injured reserve, due to a torn pec and then elbow and shoulder injuries, respectively. To take it a step further, he's missed 15 contests out of a possible 48 since 2017.

For the team to ink Scherff to a hefty contract, they're going to want to feel confident he'll be on the field to earn it. Right now, that confidence may not be there.

Money

People seem to care about this green stuff, right?

While Scherff would no doubt find security in a potential multi-year deal with the Redskins, he may simply have more interest in just accepting the franchise tag, which will pay him $15 million in 2020. That's a huge number that could be dissuading him from negotiating much.

As for the team, because of things like the staff's newness and the concern for Scherff's health, they may rather see Scherff for an (albeit expensive) season before deciding whether they want him on the roster for the rest of the rebuild.

These back-and-forths are always complicated, but this time around, there seems to be more variables than usual. The NFL is known as a "deadline league," but the above factors could prove to be too much to overcome before the July 15 buzzer.

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Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson over Instagram posts, per Stephen Jackson

Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson over Instagram posts, per Stephen Jackson

A part of a series of statements defending DeSean Jackson following the wide receiver's posting of anti-Semitic comments falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler, Stephen Jackson revealed he received a call from the distressed veteran after the incident. 

According to Stephen, DeSean said the Eagles were threatening to release him without an apology. 

"My whole reason for supporting D-Jack was, before I got on Instagram, he called me on the phone and told me that they was threatening to fire him," Jackson said. "But they didn't do that to [Riley] Cooper. And I was like, 'You're right, you shouldn't have to apologize if they didn't make him apologize."

Riley Cooper was caught on video saying the n-word at a concert in 2013, and after the now-retired receiver made his apology, the Eagles fined him an undisclosed amount. He was then re-signed to a five-year extension in 2014, though he'd eventually be released two years later. 

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DeSean ultimately apologized, saying his posts were, "definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community."

The Eagles then released a statement condemning their wide receiver's actions, calling the messages he shared, "offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling." They were not clear on what Jackson's punishment would be in their statement. 

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This, of course, was not all Jackson said in defense of DeSean. The 14-year NBA veteran claimed Jackson was speaking the truth through the messages he shared.

"He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he's speaking the truth. Right? He's speaking the truth,” Stephen Jackson said. “You know he don't hate nobody, but he's speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others."

Jackson played three seasons with the Redskins from 2014-16 after then Eagles head coach Chip Kelly cut him following the 2013 campaign. He then returned to Philadelphia before the 2019 season by signing a three-year contract with the franchise who drafted him.

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