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Redskins practice report: All hands on deck for minicamp

Redskins practice report: All hands on deck for minicamp

—Yep, it was hot as the Redskins took the field for the first of two minicamp practices this week, with temperatures in the mid-90’s and typical DC area humidity. But the players were energized as they got in about an hour and a half of good work.

Here are my observations:

—RB Matt Jones, OT Trent Williams, and TE Jordan Reed, all absent from OTAs, were present. After Reed made a catch in position drills he got a “Jordan Reed, back in the house” shout from Jay Gruden. All three had been working out elsewhere and appeared to be in good condition.

—If Reed looks this good all year, they might have him skip OTAs next year, too. He was very sharp and he caught everything thrown in his direction.

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—It doesn’t appear that new DL coach Jim Tomsula is very worried about a depth chart at the moment. On the first snap of 11-on-11 work, with starters on the field at other positions, the Redskins defensive line was, from left to right, Ziggy Hood, Joey Mbu, and Matt Ioannidis. I think it’s safe to say that group will not be the Week 1 starting front.

—CB Bashaud Breeland wants a big contract next year and he will make himself some money if he plays the run well. He did a good job on one play when two tight ends lined up on his side. Breeland recognized the running play quickly and would have stopped RB Chris Thompson after a short gain if they were tackling live.

—A little while later, the defensive front was Stacy McGee, A.J. Francis, and Brandon Banks. Then it was Mbu and Jonathan Allen on the outside and Phil Taylor in the middle. Obviously, Tomsula sees this is a time to mix, match, and experiment.

—Second-round draft pick OLB Ryan Anderson has some work to do. He was a little bit late in recognizing a few plays, certainly nothing out of the norm for a rookie. He plays with such intensity that there a may be a problem in the early going with him going a million miles an hour to the wrong place. He will learn.

—A reluctance to participate in special teams is why Jones would up being inactive for the last nine games of the season. I’m not sure how seriously he wants to make the team after seeing this:

—In seven on seven drills, Will Blackmon almost intercepted a Colt McCoy pass that was thrown low and short over the middle, but it bounced off the safety’s thighs and was incomplete.

Nate Sudfeld showed his good and bad sides when he got a few seven-on-seven snaps. On his first play, he hesitated in making his decision and may have taken a sack if it was live football. A couple of plays later he threw a nice out pattern to WR Zach Pascal.

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Josh Norman has been working on his off-coverage technique all offseason. Today, he seemed to be seeing how far back he could play. A couple of times he lined up eight or nine yards off of the receiver. It probably will not be that long in most game situations but he wants to see how far back he can go and still be effective in coverage.

—There isn’t supposed to be any contact during minicamp but Norman and WR Terrelle Pryor bumped into each other hard fighting for a pass near the sideline. Norman won the battle, knocking the ball away.

—Safety Deshazor Everett made a few plays on the ball, knocking a few passes down and nearly picking off a Colt McCoy pass during a two-minute drill. On the near interception he jumped in front of the receiver on the sideline and got two hands on the ball but he lost control when he hit the ground.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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If the Redskins truly believe they're 'close' to winning, then they won't ever start winning

If the Redskins truly believe they're 'close' to winning, then they won't ever start winning

Over the last four seasons, the Redskins are 31-32-1. 

Mediocrity defined.

Problem is, the team believes they're on the verge of something grander.

"We're in the middle of the pack," Bruce Allen told reporters Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. "It means you're close, it means you're close to being better."

"Yeah, we were two games out of a playoff," Allen added later while reviewing the 2018 campaign. "No matter how you want to look at the season, we were two games out of it, and the year before we were one game out of it, and the year before we were one game out of it."

Four years. One forgettable playoff appearance followed by three misses.

If Washington truly thinks that they're legitimately close to breaking through, then they will never break through.

Think back to this past weekend, where four elite groups battled it out for Super Bowl spots in two epic duels. Can you imagine this iteration of the Burgundy and Gold ever reaching that level of football?

Sure, if you ignored the many flaws, perhaps you felt the 6-3 'Skins who led the division back in November could do some measure of damage in the postseason. Allen, Jay Gruden and others in Ashburn point to that stretch whenever they can.

But even that group, when it was still mostly healthy, felt at least a level below top contenders. They came out totally flat in their home opener, suffered a pair of 24-point losses and gave up 500 yards to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs during those nine contests.

You know the rest — multiple quarterbacks went down as did a slew of other contributors, and the Redskins' hopes went with them.

"We didn't finish strong," Allen said. "I'm not going to use injuries as an excuse because we had some opportunities to win some games at the end of the year that we didn't."

He's right in not wanting to use the battered roster as an excuse. But even then, he brought up the "heartbreaking injuries" again later on and mentioned hopefully having a "healthy team for the 2019 season" when answering a question about bringing Gruden back as coach.

And therein lies the issue.

Even when everyone's on the field, there currently aren't enough difference-makers to elevate this bunch out of the "middle of the pack." 

Plus, who cares about being one or two games out of a playoff spot?

That may signal something worth building upon in the much longer seasons of the NBA, NHL or MLB, but in the NFL, where you only play 16 times, one or two games represents a significant gap in quality.

Yes, there's something to the Redskins finding themselves on somewhat stable ground. That hasn't been the case for much of this century.

That said, Washington absolutely can't get comfortable with where it is and must avoid acting as if it's on the cusp of something special.

"If we can keep our team together," Allen said, "I think [the fans] saw a good football team."

As long as that's the thought process, the only thing Redskins fans will see are other franchises playing in January and February while theirs keeps coming up short.

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Vernon Davis urges Redskins fans to have patience with Bruce Allen

Vernon Davis urges Redskins fans to have patience with Bruce Allen

Tight end Vernon Davis has seen the Washington Redskins go through many ups and downs since becoming a part of the organization in 2016, but the 2018 season brought a new set of challenges.

Two injured quarterbacks headlined the Redskins' 7-9 season and fans were once again calling for team president Bruce Allen's job.

In a rare media availability during Tuesday's Senior Bowl practice, Allen noted how "close" he felt the Redskins were to reaching the postseason but his continued lack of transparency is something that does not sit well with Redskins fans.

Davis, speaking Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, is standing by the team's president.

"I strongly believe, like I said before, we have the pieces to win games."

"Bruce and Dan [Snyder], those guys are constantly sitting in their office trying to find ways to win. It's not like they're not doing a great job with it. I believe in them. I believe that they're going to make the right decision to do the best they can do to help us win football games around here because that's what they're there for. Bruce is there to make sure that we're a championship team. Make sure that we're winning. Making sure that we have all the pieces when it comes to different positions on the football field. So, they're doing just that.

Allen has continued to praise the Redskins fans for their passion throughout the offseason. But if you know the Redskins, don't expect many changes to take place. 

And if it's hard for you to hang on to the little insight Allen provides Redskins fans with in regards to the future of the organization, Davis urges fans to keep holding on. 

"I wouldn't quite count him out. I just say have patience and continue to support the Washington Redskins." 

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