RB report: We're talking practice

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RB report: We're talking practice

Observations or thoughts from any of these way early before training campteam practices are often couched with a reference to no pads being worn, notackles being made. Rightfully so, especially when it comes to the runninggame, so says the man in charge. "With running backs you really dont know until you put them in a gamesituation," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "Youve got a goodfeel. Its a lot like the safety position. Until you see them hit, you reallydont know if theyve got a sense for the ball at the safety position. Itsthe same thing with a running back. Can they run? Can they protect? Untilpeople are shooting at him live bullets, you dont know for sure.Obviously, the Redskins got a long look at Roy Helu Jr. last year. On Thursday,the dual threat back flashed his effective pass receiving skills, hauling in acouple of short scoring passes from Robert Griffin III. Especially with Tim Hightower (knee surgery) on the sideline, Helu is thetop backfield option, though others received snaps with the first team duringwhat was a mix-and-match team drills session. Tristan Davis' ability popped ona couple of touches, but again, no pads, no tackling - and once Hightower isback, potentially no more run for the veteran addition with the starters.As for Hightower, Shanahan said, I havent been able to see Tim practiceyet. Hes biting at the bit, ready to go. I cant tell you if itll be twoweeks or three weeks, but hell be ready for the season."I talked with Hightower as he walked off the practice field and as Iwrote yesterday, the veteran seems encouraged by his progress followingsurgery in November. However, having "never been through thisprocess", he's been hesitant to project a timeline for his return. "You know your body," Hightower said. "Im a full speed kindof guy, practice at full speed, give effort. If Im not able to come out and dothat on a consistent basis, Im not going to practice."That means more reps and opportunity for the other guys to show they areworthy of a spot on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. That's something,but especially with running backs,hardly the largerpart of the evaluationprocess.

Breaking down the Redskins' Su'a Cravens pick

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Breaking down the Redskins' Su'a Cravens pick

Scot McCloughan says that he loves “football players”. He just drafted one for the Redskins in the second round.

Su’a Cravens is a 6-1, 225-lb. linebacker/strong safety out of USC. He should be very useful in nickel and dime situations and it’s possible that defensive coordinator Joe Barry will have a lot of fun moving him around in the defensive scheme.

Cravens possess the traits that McCloughan likes in his players; he’s smart, tough, and instinctive. He’s obviously a student of the game, anticipating plays and acting as a highly disruptive force.

The Redskins told Cravens that they see him as a dime linebacker, which will put him in a position to make plays in passing situations. They currently don’t have a specialist for that position so he will be a new dimension added to the offense.

His addition to the roster almost assuredly means that Trent Murphy, the team’s second-round pick as an outside linebacker two years ago, will make a permanent move to the defensive line.

So details on just what Cravens’ role will be won’t be sorted out until training camp, the preseason games and probably into the regular season.

RELATED: REDSKINS TAKE LINEBACKER-SAFETY HYBRID SU'A CRAVENS

Redskins take linebacker-safety hybrid Su'a Cravens

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Redskins take linebacker-safety hybrid Su'a Cravens

With their second round pick (No. 53 overall), the Redskins selected linebacker-safety Su’a Cravens out of USC.

Cravens, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 226-pounds, recorded a combined 10.5 sacks and 32 tackles for the loss the past two seasons for the Trojans.  

The Los Angeles native is expected to speak to the media via conference call soon. Coach Jay Gruden, meantime, is scheduled meet with  reporters at Redskins Park following the completion of the third round, where the Redskins pick 84th.

Stay tuned for more coverage.

RELATED: COWBOYS ROLL THE DICE, SELECT LINEBACKER JAYLON SMITH IN 2ND ROUND

Cowboys roll the dice, select linebacker Jaylon Smith in 2nd round

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Cowboys roll the dice, select linebacker Jaylon Smith in 2nd round

And we thought the Cowboys were taking a chance with their first-round pick. They really rolled the dice tonight.

After taking a running back in the first round last night the Cowboys took a player who won’t play in 2016 with their second-round pick.

Last night it was Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth pick in the draft, generally considered to be way too high to draft a running back. Tonight it was Jaylon Smith, the Notre Dame linebacker who won’t play in 2016.

Smith was on his way to being a top-10 pick in the draft until he suffered a serious knee injury in the Fighting Irish’s bowl game. He was diagnosed with nerve damage as a result of the injury. That scared teams off until the Cowboys took him with the 34th overall pick in the draft.

If he can play in 2017 he could be quite a boost to the Dallas defense. Smith was an excellent all-around defender at Notre Dame and he could give the Redskins problems in both the running and passing game.

But if there is a lingering issue with the knee, Smith could either not play or have the quality of his play diminished. That’s a gamble that the Cowboys are willing to take.

One reason that the Cowboys may be confident in their wager is that the doctor who performed the surgery on Smith is one of their team physicians so they may have had better information than most of the other teams out there.

RELATED: NEW REDSKINS WR DOCTSON PROVIDES UPDATE ON HIS SURGICALLY REPAIRED WRIST