After opening training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Redskins coach Jay Gruden announced that LB Perry Riley has been activated and will practice on Friday.
Riley went out last December with a foot injury and missed the Redskins run to the NFC East title. A six-year veteran, Riley was drafted by the 'Skins in 2010 and emerged as a starter in 2011. Riley struggled somewhat early in the 2015 season, but his play was improving into the second half of the year.
"I expect him to come on and continue his strides," Gruden said of Riley's improved play.
Coindence or not, Riley's play improved once Will Compton took over at starting linebacker for Keenan Robinson.
"I think it did," Gruden said of Riley playing better paired with Compton. "Maybe it's just the whole entire defense got better as the season went on."
Gruden said that the defense as a whole was becoming more comfortable with new coordinator Joe Barry, and that should only increase this season.
Some think with a $5 million cap number - and a potential savings of $4 million if he was released - Riley could be subject to a roster squeeze. But after Compton and Mason Foster, Riley is the only inside linebacker with significant NFL experience on the roster compared to Martrell Spaight, Steven Daniels and Terence Garvin.
It will be interesting to watch Riley's return from injury, both to see how he looks, and to watch where he fits with the defense. In nine games last season, Riley grabbed two interceptions and 24 tackles.
RICHMOND—Josh Norman was brought to the Redskins to help the defense. But he’s trying to solve one of the potentially biggest problems facing the other side of the ball.
In a part-time role last year, running back Matt Jones fumbled the ball five times, losing four of them. This year Jones is projected to be the full-time running back and if he continues to fumble at the same rate Norman and company will be coming onto the field a lot sooner than they planned on many occasions.
Norman has taken it upon himself to try to fix this. When Jones is carrying the ball Norman makes an effort to knock it out of the back’s arms. It’s become a running competition between the two.
“We crack up all the time because [Jones] knows when he comes to that hole I’m looking for that ball,” said Norman. “I’m punching; I’m looking to get it out of there.”
So far, Jones is doing a good job with ball security, something he’s been working on all offseason.
“He’s holding that thing high and tight and I don’t know if I've got him once yet,” said Norman.
Norman said that his goal is to knock the ball out of Jones’ grasp five times during training camp.
“I’m going to be lurking, trust me, I’m going to try and get it,” he said. “And that makes him better because he knows he’s going to have to hold that thing tight.”
Aside from perhaps Josh Doctson himself, no one inside the Redskins organization took the news of the rookie wide receivers' injury as bad a general manager Scot McCloughan did.
On Friday morning, ESPN 980 host and former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley detailed how McCloughan punched a wall and injured his hand sometime in May or June upon being told that the No. 22 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft could miss most of the offseason with an Achilles injury.
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"He was sitting next to me, his hand was swollen and it was bandaged up and taped together," Cooley said on the broadcast.
"I said, 'What happened to your hand?' He said, when I found out about Doctson — which they thought was going to be much worse, the Doctson injury, apparently it isn't going to be as bad - I punched the wall."
Sure enough, McCloughan was spotted at training camp on Friday sported a wrapped bandage on his left hand.
Scot McCloughan's hand injury. Training camp is rough. pic.twitter.com/SryRXHKFg9— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) July 29, 2016
Doctson is expected to join the team on the field soon, although he began training camp on the PUP list.