RICHMOND—When the Redskins hit the field at Bon Secours Training Center Monday morning, they did so in full pads, including pants.
Jay Gruden has said he prefers padded practices and intends to have them more often than previous regimes in Washington. And although he did not come right out and say it, the hope is that an increase in padded practices will, among other things, help the Redskins become a better tackling team in the regular season.
Last year, missed tackles dogged the Redskins’ defense, particularly early on. According to ProFootballFocus.com, they missed 143 tackles last season, a total that ranked among the worst in the NFL a season ago.
Ryan Clark wasn’t here in 2013, but the 34-year-old safety is a proponent of padding up. In fact, he's among a small group of players that wears game pants in practice every day, regardless of whether Gruden asked for it because, as he says, “We don’t play in shorts.”
“It’s always good to get out there in pads,” Clark added. “I mean, you play football in pads. I think it’s good that we get in pads. Physicality wins football games. We have to get used to being physical. We have to get used to hitting.”
Monday marked the third straight day the Redskins practiced in pads. But it was the first session in which they donned pants and had ‘live’ hitting sessions.
“If you look at the deterioration of tackling now,” Clark said, referring to the NFL in general, “[the lack of padded practices] may be part of it.”