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Rehashing every Redskins-related part of 'Hard Knocks' debut


Rehashing every Redskins-related part of 'Hard Knocks' debut

The brawls that broke out between the Redskins and the Texans in Richmond over the weekend were a bit startling and pretty surprising to the fans who saw them live and the audiences who saw them on their TVs. And while they probably caught Washington coach Jay Gruden and Houston coach Bill O'Brien a bit off guard, too, a conversation they had together before the practices will probably make some wonder if the two bosses can tell the future.

"We're kicking a guy out of practice if there's a fight," O'Brien told Gruden on the debut of HBO's 'Hard Knocks' ahead of the team's first joint practice, which took place last Thursday.

"When I was in Denver, if it was like, an all out brawl, the guy was gone," he continued. "You agree with that?"

"Yeah," Gruden responded.

Little did they know how prescient that brief exchange would prove to be.

While the majority of the episode was (obviously) centered around the AFC South squad, the Redskins did get some decent camera time near the end of the show's premiere thanks to the two teams agreeing to practice each other for three straight days in Virginia. And aside from the two coaches talking, there were many, many other highlights -- and lowlights -- from that stretch related to the Burgundy and Gold. Here is a rundown of the rest of the action that concerned the Redskins:

  • A poorly constructed line on one of the Redskins' practice fields drew the ire of Texans star JJ Watt: "I think the guy was hammered when he painted this line," Watt said, in reference to its squiggly nature. "This line's not even remotely close to straight." It was just one of many parts that featured #99.
  • The Texans equipment managers forgot to pack the jerseys that their quarterbacks wear ahead of the trip, so Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallet took the field wearing Redskins uniforms instead. 
  • A Brandon Scherff vs. JJ Watt one-on-one drill was highlighted, and in it, Scherff was driven back quite easily by the standout defender. "He's a rookie," Watt said to a teammate while laughing. "He doesn't count." 
  • We got our first look of the Matt Jones hit that reportedly sparked the massive fights between the two franchises. Afterward, a few Texans defenders were heard complaining about the Redskins being too physical the day before.
  • There was a segment of trash talk between Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall and Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins that may have set the record for expletives said in a 30-second window. Hopkins took issue with Hall touching him after a play, and for the next few moments, the two players sparred verbally before finally being separated. Transcribing what they said would be a fireable offense though, so unfortunately, you'll have to find those quotes on your own.
  • Finally, as expected, there were plenty of fight scenes. There was Pierre Garçon yelling in the face of a few Texans during one stoppage. There was Niles Paul delivering a nasty blow to a Houston player. And there was a lot of slow motion shots of full on scrums featuring a handful of players. The final line of the episode? It was a memorable one, courtesy of Texans corner Jonathan Joseph: "Let's get the (expletive) out of Richmond."

For diehard Redskins fans, seeing their team make a short appearance on the incredibly well-done show was pretty exciting, and that excitement was evident on Twitter as the premiere was going on. Should Washington ever become the focus of an entire season of 'Hard Knocks,' Twitter may need to make sure they can handle all of that traffic before the debut. 


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There's a competition brewing among the Redskins defensive linemen, per Daron Payne

Redskins Nation

There's a competition brewing among the Redskins defensive linemen, per Daron Payne

If you find yourself looking for Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis, you really just need to find one of them. Odds are, if you locate one, the other two will be close by.

The second-year pro, third-year pro, and fourth-year pro have forged quite a bond on the Redskins' defensive line, which is easily the team's most promising unit going into 2019. The three guys share an appreciation for lifting really heavy weights and dropping opposing quarterbacks. 

As it turns out, that latter love is actually part of the inspiration behind a bet Payne, Allen and Ioannidis have queued up for the 2019 campaign. Payne revealed that while with Larry Michael on a recent episode of Redskins Nation.

"Me and Jon and Matt got a little competition right now on sacks and tackles," he said with a smile, but he ultimately didn't shed any light on what the competition's compensation will be.

Whatever the trio is playing for, it should be a close race.

Ryan Kerrigan led the 'Skins in sacks in 2018, but Allen (8), Ioannidis (7.5) and Payne (5) were second, third and fourth respectively. In terms of tackles, meanwhile, it went Allen (61), Payne (56) and then Ioannidis (31). 

Allen and Payne saw a ton of snaps last year while Ioannidis was used more in a rotational role, which limited his tackles. He's an insanely productive pass rusher, though, so he can make up some ground in the sacks/tackles bet by keeping that trend going. Any of them are a solid pick if you're trying to project who'll capture their title.

Payne, for one, expects to generate better numbers in his second go-round in the league.

"Of course," he responded when Michael asked if he left some sacks out there as a rookie. "Definitely did. I want to get a couple more."

In the team's offseason practices, he's already noticed that things are "coming easier," so perhaps he'll be able to record those extra takedowns he's looking for.

As mentioned earlier, you can make an easy case for Payne, Allen or Ioannidis to win their competition, but you won't know who that winner is until late December.

One thing you can already say, however? That the QBs and running backs they'll be chasing down are the losers in this thing. That much is already known.


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Three little-known Redskins who could make things interesting at training camp

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Three little-known Redskins who could make things interesting at training camp

Ah, NFL training camps. They're where every handoff always results in a first down, safe from refs who can ruin things with one piece of yellow cloth and home to roster sleepers.

This story, though, is devoted solely to the third item on that list.

JP Finlay came up with his post-minicamp Redskins roster projection earlier this week and has said he's already extremely confident in roughly 49 of his 53 picks. What can really throw off those kinds of projections, though, is the emergence of little-known players at training camp.

Now, trying to find the next Rob Kelley or Quinton Dunbar or Cam Sims can come off as foolish, considering Washington will bring 90 players to Richmond in late July. However, using observations from offseason practices so far and clues from what coaches are saying can narrow the list of potential preseason difference makers.

So, here are three Redskins who seem like they could seriously shake things up when the Burgundy and Gold reconvene for the summer grind.

Jeremy Reaves

When he's asked to critique a certain position group, Jay Gruden often does this thing where he lists every player in that group, from starter to backup to fringe option. It's hard to discern the times when he's doing that just to be polite from the times when he's doing that because each name truly is relevant.

Jeremy Reaves' name, however, has come up twice at two very different points of the spring and early summer.

Here's Gruden from after the draft, when he was asked about what the Redskins have at safety.

"We still have Montae [Nicholson]. We obviously drafted [Troy] Apke last year, which is a pretty good option. We have [Jeremy] Reaves here in the building. He's doing some good things, did some great things at the end of the year on practice squad. And Deshazor [Everett] and Landon [Collins]. So, we have five pretty good safeties."

Here's Gruden a month and a half later, after the team's last open OTA session, again addressing that secondary spot.

"Apke is doing well. It has been good to see him get a lot of these reps and work. Obviously, last year he did not get a whole lot with his hamstring, so he is progressing nicely. Everett also has picked up the slack. He has done a very good job. Reaves, he made some big plays out there today. So, those guys are taking advantage of their time."

With Collins, Nicholson, Everett and Apke, the defense should be set on the back end. Those four all feel quite locked in.

Yet Nicholson is coming off of an unpredictable second year as a pro, while Apke couldn't get healthy at all in 2018 after a hamstring issue. Perhaps Reaves, who Gruden also called an "upcoming talent" last December, can pick up the slack if either of those DBs drop off.

Sure, the path won't be easy for Reaves, but one thing's for sure: It's better to be brought up by the head coach than not, and he's being brought up relatively frequently.

Craig Reynolds

Craig Reynolds is an undrafted rookie running back who played for the Golden Bears in college.

No, not the California Golden Bears. The Kutztown Golden Bears. Yes, that's a real school, and yes, it's fine if you've never heard of it.

Reynolds could be the longest longshot of the three players on this list, but guys like Kelley, Mack Brown and Marcus Mason have come from a similar level of anonymity to take fall snaps in the 'Skins backfield.

If you look at the RB depth chart, Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson are making the 53 barring anything crazy. Bryce Love will probably hit the PUP, but he's in the franchise's plans, too.

That means Reynolds will have to compete with the likes of the quite popular Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall, but he should see plenty of action late in preseason games. He averaged more than 150 total yards per game last year at school — indeed, it was Division II, that's a very fair counterpoint — but it feels like the chances to make impressions on Gruden and Randy Jordan in precious live action will be there. It's not like Peterson or Thompson will be used that much, anyway.

Plus, if Perine starts fumbling again or Marshall gets injured as he did in 2018, Reynolds could see those chances grow. He just has to seize every one that comes his way.

Donald Parham

Tight end feels like another position that should be simple. Jordan Reed is the star, Vernon Davis is still around despite a somewhat heavy contract and Jeremy Sprinkle is entering Year 3. If Davis or Sprinkle face any competition, you'd expect it to come from the likes of Matt Flanagan or JP Holtz.

You shouldn't ignore Daniel Parham, however. In fact, it's pretty much impossible to.

Parham signed with the 'Skins on June 7, and the 6-foot-8(!) pass catcher was on the receiving end of more than a few passes once he got going. Not surprisingly, he made the most plays in red zone situations, giving QBs like Dwayne Haskins a very appealing target to throw to. 

The Stetson product probably won't add much of anything as a blocker. Remember that Gruden doesn't like using one-dimensional tight ends, so that could hurt him. Going off that, some scouting services even think he'd be best served lining up consistently in the slot. 

Regardless, you just don't see many people at his size running downfield routes, and his potential is noticeable. A few preseason highlights on jump balls could help him stick around past August.