Camp preview: Safety in numbers?

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Camp preview: Safety in numbers?

The Redskins start training camp on Thursday. Were going around the team to let you know what were looking for when practice gets underway. Yesterday we looked at the offense (line, backsreceivers). We started the defense today with the line and linebackers and now well look at the defensive backs.Anticipated starters:CB Josh Wilson
CB DeAngelo Hall
SS Brandon Meriweather
FS Tanard JacksonHall and Wilson return as starters on a secondary that ranked among the teams most disappointing units last season. After those two, well, theres not a whole lot of certainty for position coach Raheem Morris, whos in his first season in Washington. Morris will rely on newcomers Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, and Jackson, a playmaker, to replace Oshiomogho Atogwe, who was cut, and oft-injured LaRon Landry, who was placed on the Jets physically unable to perform list Monday.Key reserves: S DeJon Gomes
S Madieu Williams
CB Cedric GriffinIf either Meriweather or Jackson falter, Gomes and Williams could challenge for significant playing time. Griffin, meantime, is a hard hitter who should see plenty of playing time and add some much needed depth and snarl to the position.On the bubble:CB Kevin Barnes
CB Chase Minnifield
CB Richard Crawford
CB Morgan Trent
CB Brandyn Thompson
S Reed Doughty
S Jordan Bernstine
DB Travon BellamyBarnes struggled in slot-corner coverage last season, while Doughty, who has been counted out often during his Redskins tenure, once again finds himself fighting for a job. Thompson showed some promise last year but he will have to fight off Crawford, Trent, and possibly Minnifield if he is going to stick around this season.Three things to watch:Who survives?When practice begins Thursday, there will be 15 defensive backs on the roster. When the regular season begins in New Orleans on Sept. 9, there will be nine. There is no obvious camp fodder here; every player except Bellamy either was drafted by the Redskins or has NFL playing experience. In other words, it figures to among the more intriguing position battles.Whats Minnifields status?Signed out of UVA in May, Minnifield was expected to start the season as a reserve. But hell reportedly start training camp on the PUP list as he continues to recover from microfracture knee surgery in January. He has a very good chance of contributing to the team at some point, but will it be this year or in 2013?Can D-Hall rebound?In 2010, Hall made six interceptions and 95 tackles and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career. In 2011, however, he might have cost the Redskins two wins against the Cowboys. He let Dez Bryant slip away from him on third and 21 situation in their September meeting, then he slipped in man-to-man coverage on Bryant in overtime two months later. Which DeAngelo will show up this season?

Redskins rookie WR Josh Doctson held out of OTAs

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Redskins rookie WR Josh Doctson held out of OTAs

Everybody wants to see what first-round rookie WR Josh Doctson can do when out on the field with Kirk Cousins and the Redskins first-team offense - but they were forced to wait on Wednesday. Washington decided to keep their prized rookie off to the side working with trainers while the team took part in individual and team drills.

"Just kind of Achilles got rolled up on, and I’m just taking it easy," Doctson said after the OTA session. "It happened back in minicamp, so I’m just trying to take it easy for the day. I’ll be back out there tomorrow."

'Skins coach Jay Gruden echoed Doctson's comments, saying the team was using precaution with the rookie.

"Sore Achilles," the coach said of Doctson. "We're just trying to be smart with him. We don't want it to reoccur."

While Doctson battled a broken wrist last November in college, the Achilles injury is new, though both coach and player did not seemed alarmed. 

DeSean Jackson also missed Wednesday's practice session, leaving the Redskins WR group down two of their most explosive players. 

"I’ll go tomorrow," Doctson said. "Just a small tweak."

As for the missed OTA session, the rookie still tried to absorb as much as he could.

"I’m trying to learn, take mental reps. Everything’s going pretty easy right now, learning from the older guys and just watching them," he said. "I’m not happy I ain’t get to practice today, but I understand I gotta take it easy."

Gruden on DeSean Jackson missing OTAs: He will probably show up

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Gruden on DeSean Jackson missing OTAs: He will probably show up

DeSean Jackson missed Wednesday's OTA session at Redskins Park, though Jay Gruden said he expects his WR to attend, eventually. 

"He will probably show up here, maybe next week, maybe whenever," Gruden said.

Throughout Jackson's tenure, he's had a spotty record of attending voluntary workouts and practices, though he did attend a workout earlier this month.

"He’s been here. He’s popped in, had a cup of coffee," Gruden said with a laugh.

It's important to remember that the sessions Jackson has missed are not mandatory, though his contract contains a $500,000 bonus if he attends 90 percent of workouts.

"Last time I looked up the word voluntary, it's his choice," Gruden said. "He knows what type of shape he needs to come in. He'll be ready to go."

During the OTA session, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense looked choppy, and new Redskins cornerback Josh Norman declared the 11-on-11 drills a win for the defense. Cousins also said that he is using this time - his first offseason as the undisputed starter - to sync timing with his receivers. 

With rookie WR Josh Doctson also not taking part in team drills due to a sore Achilles, the Redskins receiver group - considered by many to be the strongest position group on the team - was down two of its most explosive talents. 

Redskins guard Spencer Long has been getting some work at center, too

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Redskins guard Spencer Long has been getting some work at center, too

Although it’s a little early in the offseason to handicap position battles, it’s definitely worth noting that guard Spencer Long has also been getting some work at center.

“Getting more and more comfortable,” Long told me on Monday at the Redskins charity golf tournament. “Obviously, I’d be lying if I told you I was as comfortable [at center] as I was at guard, but that comes with time. The more practice I get at it, the better I’ll be. I’ve been working at it daily.”

“It’s something that I’m definitely prepared to do if I’m asked,” the 25-year-old added. “It’s something I’ll continue to work at.”

What does it mean? That’s unclear…for now.

Starter Kory Lichtensteiger along with backups Josh LeRibeus and Austin Reiter are the three centers currently listed on the Redskins’ roster.

Long, meantime, made 14 starts in 2015 at left guard after replacing Shawn Lauvao, who was playing well when he went down with a season-ending ankle injury in Week 3. Lauvao, though, is expected to return at some point and, assuming that he does, it could create an opportunity to reshuffle the line.

But that doesn’t mean it is going to happen. Lichtensteiger is by far the most experienced center on the team. It’s also important to point out how quickly Jay Gruden reinstalled Lichtensteiger as the starter last January after he missed most of the season with a pinched nerve in his shoulder. Long, on the other hand, is more than five years younger and has a big size advantage but has played in only 18 games, all as a guard.

On Wednesday, the Redskins will open practice to reporters for the first time this spring, giving us a better picture of the pecking order at a number of positions, including those along the O-line.

We’ll also get a better feel for exactly how much work Long is getting at center—and how much progress he's made.  

“You’re the guy that has to be orchestrating everything up there,” Long said, asked about playing center vs. guard. “While making the calls, you have to focus on your snaps, too. ...You have to have a certain poise, to make the right calls confidently and also get the snap off when you’re exhausted. It’s just a different position; you’re at the head of it.”