Watch enough practice this summer at Redskins Park and some things stand out. Players running laps after a bad play included.
Last week during minicamp, the Redskins were working through drills with the full offense and defense. The play was a 3rd down with three yards to go, and both the offense and defense were keyed up.
But the play never went off. Rookie guard Arie Kouandjio moved early, an obvious false start, while the defense hollered and the offense groaned.
"The difference in a 3rd and 3, making the conversion rate on 3rd and 8, are pretty significant in the NFL," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "It's important for us to really hone in mentally when we break the huddle and listen to the snap count."
And on that June afternoon, the team made the player pay. Kouandjio took off jogging around the 100-yard practice field, and understood the lesson behind it.
"I have a problem right now and the laps help me fix it," Kouandjio said. "I was focused on the linebacker, lost track of the count."
For a rookie offensive lineman, focusing on opposing linebackers doesn't sound like the worst idea. PLaying under offensive line coach Bill Callahan requires extreme focus, however, and the laps reinforce that priority.
"He demands a lot from those guys," Gruden said of Callahan. "It’s great for young players to develop with him."
Laps for penalties along the offensive line are new this season, an idea imported with Callahan from Dallas. Gruden likes it.
"If you do false start, you need to understand that you are really hurting the football team. That’s just a way right now to let the guys know that it’s not acceptable to jump offsides or have a false start."
Gruden also said that the laps will likely taper off once the team gets to Richmond, starts wearing full pads, and the temperature goes up. For Kouandjio - who has the size and ability to contribute for this team, if not this year than in the future - one practice miscue will not impede development. The rookie guard from Alabama took the right attitude in response to his lap, which is arguably more important.
"God has put me in a great place. I love the coaches, I love the players," he said. "It's awesome being around these guys."