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Hand shakes and head shakes: Notes from Redskins final week of OTAs

Hand shakes and head shakes: Notes from Redskins final week of OTAs

Probably the most fun, or at least the funniest moment, from the Redskins OTA session Wednesday came during special teams' drills. Typically, the special teams portion of the workouts are a lull in the action, especially with no contact, but Will Blackmon provided for some comedy.

On kickoff drills, Blackmon lined up deep to receive, like he often did during the 2016 season. Dustin Hopkins kicked off, Blackmon caught the ball and took off up the right sideline. He made a move, and then hit daylight, gaining speed as he got upfield. 

Remember, there was no contact, but it looked like Blackmon might have had a chance to return the kick for six had it been live action. That was all well and good, but the fun came at the end of the run. With the rest of the team gathered on the sideline up around the 45-yard-line, Blackmon went over and shook the hands of the guys on the sideline, including D.J. Swearinger, Su'a Cravens and Rob Kelley. The players seemed a bit confused, but laughed, as did Blackmon, before he jogged back for more drills.

It was just a fun, spontaneous moment. Sometimes football practice in June needs that.

Other news and notes:

  • When backup tackle Kevin Bowen went down with a lower left leg injury, the entire mood inside the Redskins Park practice bubble vanished. Things turned silent, and Jay Gruden quickly ended practice a few minutes after Bowen had to be removed from the field by the cart.
  • Morgan Moses spoke eloquently about Bowen, explaining that it hurts to see a guy working to make a roster get injured during OTAs. He said 'you're not winning championships in June' but added that football players understand the risks involved every time they put on a helmet. Moses also gave Bowen a hug before he left the field. 
  • Before the Bowen injury, there were some highlights. One that stood out was a remarkable catch from Josh Doctson early in the session. On a ball thrown slightly behind him, Doctson reached back and tipped the ball up to himself while running a crossing route going the opposite direction. It was a flash, but an encouraging play. 
  • Preston Smith stood out on Wednesday, particularly in team drills. He got into the backfield against the Redskins first team offense repeatedly, forcing Kirk Cousins to take off running with the football.
  • Nico Marley stands out on the field. On the sideline he's noticeably the smallest player out there, but when he's on the field, his speed is evident as well. On a toss play to running back Mack Brown, Marley streaked to the ball like a comet. It was an impressive burst and had other defensive players on the sideline shouting in appreciation.
  • With Jordan Reed not at OTAs, Niles Paul is getting plenty of work. He looks 100 percent recovered from last season's shoulder injury.
  • Chris Thompson. Still fast. Still quite a weapon. 


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NFL players react to news that Andrew Luck is retiring

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NFL players react to news that Andrew Luck is retiring

NFL players took to Twitter on Saturday to send well-wishes to Andrew Luck after news broke that he is retiring from the NFL. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Luck was 'mentally worn out' after years of battling injuries. Luck confirmed the news in an emotional press conference on Saturday night.

"Andrew luck I understand you 100% brotha," wrote Dez Bryant. "... take your time ... I wish you the best."

Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins reacted to the news with emojis.

Former player turned ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho posted video of Colts fans booing Luck as he walked into the locker room. "Coach always said, 'the pats on the back eventually turn into stabs,'" he wrote.  

"That's bad to boo that man," added former Redskins player Chris Baker.

Former Ravens and current Carolina player Torrey Smith tweeted that anyone in the sport understands.

Jaguars long snapper Matt Overton wrote he was "shook."



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Falcons safety Keanu Neal says no 'ill intent' for big hit on Jordan Reed

Falcons safety Keanu Neal says no 'ill intent' for big hit on Jordan Reed

Jordan Reed took a major blow to the head in the Redskins third preseason game in Atlanta, and the blow eventually landed Washington's stud tight end in the NFL's concussion protocol. 

Falcons safety Keanu Neal delivered the hit, and while it was clearly illegal and resulted in a penalty on the field, he took to Twitter to defend his play. 

It's hard to judge intent under the incredible speed that plays happen during pro football. When a player goes in for a tackle, ball carriers can also move, and plays that look dirty in slow motion can look reasonable in full speed. Still, it's undeniable that Reed took a major shot in the helmet from Neal, and it definitely seemed unnecessary. And it's not a secret that Reed has dealt with serious head injuries throughout his NFL career. 

There has been no update on Reed's condition beyond that he's in the NFL concussion protocol. Reed also stayed in the game after the big hit from Neal before his concussion symptoms showed up at halftime. 

Neal is a fifth-year safety out of the University of Florida. He missed most of the 2018 season with an ACL injury. Reed also attended the University of Florida.