With Rich Tandler and JP Finlay both unable to make the trip to Ashburn for the second media session of Redskins OTAs, I got signed to the active roster to handle the usual notes and observations post. So, here's what I saw from the late-May practice, and no, my elevation to the active roster did not come with any pay increase.
Because we're still three-plus months away from real football, I don't want anyone to go too crazy when I say this: On Wednesday, the 'Skins defense handled the offense (you can go a little crazy, though, and then share this post with your friends so that they go crazy, too, which'll help this blog do well, which'll help my stock with JP and Tandler).
In the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11s between the starters on O and D, it was Greg Manusky's defense that was controlling things. There were numerous examples of the defensive line getting push up front, with those plays either ending in sacks/coaches blowing the whistle or Alex Smith completing checkdowns or longer passes that wouldn't be possible on Sundays. Whether it was in the red zone or the middle of the field, Smith and Co. just didn't string together a lot and the defense deserves credit for making it difficult on them.
Now that we've lost a good amount of readers who are already heading to Twitter and Facebook so they can declare the Smith trade a bust, let's get to a bunch of semi-organized bullet point notes from all that went down. And don't worry, the offense did some laudable things. Just not as many as the guys on the other side of the ball.
NOTABLE APPEARANCES AND ABSENCES
- Morgan Moses was hanging around the practice fields at the facility and was doing so without any wraps or braces on his ankles. He did some conditioning drills on a side field during the later portion of things.
- Jordan Reed was there, too, after not being present at the first open session. Jay Gruden said afterward "it's nice" to see him in person (enormous understatement alert) and that he looks to be on track for training camp. That gust of wind you just felt is Alex Smith fist-pumping.
- After not showing up to last Wednesday's action, Zach Brown was again missing. Josh Harvey-Clemons was paired up with Mason Foster most often in place of No. 53.
COMMENTS ON PRACTICE
- Gruden was fired up throughout the day, especially when working with the offense (no surprise). Find someone who loves you as much as Washington's head coach loves watching and yelling during passing drills. At one point, a full-speed Gruden tried to run with a 40-percent speed Paul Richardson on a go-route. I'll just say this about the conclusion: Richardson could've dropped down a few more gears and still toasted his new boss.
- Speaking of Richardson, while the wideouts were warming up, someone threw him a ball that was way behind him and let out a quick "sorry" as the pass was halfway to No. 10. But the 26-year-old casually snagged it with his left hand and then responded by saying, "Nah, we good." What's it like being a world-class athlete?
- As expected, the secondary experimented plenty with who was lining up where, particularly at corner. Orlando Scandrick was working across from Josh Norman on the outside early in team work, and Norman kicked inside to the slot for a couple of snaps, too.
- Let's get to some highlights: During 7-on-7, Rob Kelley darted past Harvey-Clemons and hauled in a slant, which had a lot of offensive players excited. "I think he's getting better in the passing game, without a doubt," Gruden commented at the podium after. It really looked like it on that sequence.
- Fabian Moreau got the best of Robert Davis on a few instances, including a play in which he jumped up with Davis and deflected a Colt McCoy pass. Deshazor Everett ended up picking it off. Later, Moreau ran with Davis on a short route in the flat and again broke up the throw. Can you say second-year jump?
- Davis did have one of the top individual plays of the two-hour practice, however, going up over Josh Holsey to catch a soft lob from McCoy. It was really sweet.
- Greg Stroman stuck with his receivers OK when I watched him, but he didn't always finish the play or was just victimized by a perfect pass (which happened last week against Richardson as well). Brian Quick was able to catch a red zone fade in the corner just over Stroman's hands, and the Virginia Tech DB also was forced to grab Davis' arm when the second-year target got by him on a separate play. The hold was so blatant that Moses, a Virginia Cavalier always looking to hate on a Hokie, called it out from the adjacent field about 30 yards away.
- Maybe this is nothing, maybe it's something, and in case it's the latter, I'm going to mention it so I can say I mentioned it: While special teams took over the field to work on various special teams things, Jim Tomsula gathered D-linemen to get in a little extra work on the sideline. Also called over to join Tomsula's group: Ryan Anderson. No other linebacker took part, for what it's worth.
- With Chris Thompson still not suiting up, Byron Marshall assumed the pass-catching running back role during a two-minute drill involving the primary offense and Smith connected with him for a chunk of yards to get the unit in scoring position. Marshall and Kelley won't be easy guys to let go.
- If the earlier Davis catch was really sweet, Josh Doctson made a reallllllllly sweet one of his own off the right hand of Smith in 11-on-11 action. It was over one defender, and while DJ Swearinger was coming over to help deep, he wouldn't have gotten there in time to rock Doctson if they were both wearing pads. Doctson can make catches that not many WRs — in Burgundy and Gold and around the rest of the league — can't make.
- What I also liked from Doctson on Wednesday? He held a full media scrum after practice wrapped up, answered a bunch of questions and spoke plenty, including a few comments about his confidence. He didn't do a lot of talking in 2017 at all, so perhaps now that he has a legit season of experience under his belt and feels more like himself, he's breaking out of his shell a bit. It was really good to hear him breaking down everything from Alex Smith to his offseason vacations, and I'll probably write about it as its own story soon. I hate myself for plugging my own content, by the way.
- A few snaps after Doctson plucked that ball from his QB, that QB backpedaled away from a bunch of pressure and found Vernon Davis cutting across the goal line for a score. It capped the offense's best stretch of the day.
As a reward for making it to the bottom of this blog, here's a slow-motion video of Trey Quinn making a routine catch look super beautiful. Enjoy:
Weekly Trey Quinn update pic.twitter.com/LV2cPSHaB1— Peter Hailey (@_PeterHailey) May 30, 2018
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