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Cofield looks to improve his game on and off the field

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Cofield looks to improve his game on and off the field

Although Barry Cofield was frequently praised by Redskins coaches last season, the veteran defensive lineman acknowledged Friday that he was disappointed in his 2011 campaign and enters this season expecting more from himself on the field and in the locker room.Honestly, I go back and review myself last year and Ive played a lot better than that, Cofield said. I wasnt happy with the way I played.Cofield finished fifth on the team in sacks with three and 15th in solo tackles with 15. At times, though, he conceded that was not completely comfortable lining up at a new position, in a new scheme he had yet to fully grasp.By the time I left New York, everything was second nature. People had to catch up with me, said Cofield, who signed with the Redskins as a free agent in July 2011. Last year, I felt like I was playing catch up.The lockout and being a free agent contributed to his trepidation. So did the unexpected position switch he had to make; before signing in Washington, Cofield had spent his entire five-season NFL career lining up as a tackle in the Giants 4-3 scheme.Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett asked him to play nose tackle in his 3-4 base alignment.I didnt know if I was going to go to a team where I was going to be getting up the field, or I was going to be a 3-4 end, a 3-4 nose, he said. I had no idea, so I didnt know how to train. I was just trying to be in shape.But now, he continued, knowing what kind of blocking schemes Im going to see, I was able to take a different approach this offseason.That approach involved working his core and leg muscles. The team roster now has him at 318 lb., 12 pounds heavier than last years listing.It also involved studying Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton on film.Hes kind of the godfather of the nose tackle position as we play it today, Cofield said of Hampton, a five-time Pro Bowl selection. He did some things better than me, and there are some things that I can do with my natural ability, with my athleticism, things I can bring to the position that not a lot of other guys do. So its just getting better at everything and have everything be second nature.Although creating havoc in the backfield isnt a nose tackles primary responsibility in Hasletts playbook that would be keeping middle linebacker London Fletcher clean the coaching staff has incorporated some tweaks that should complement Cofields athleticism and allow him to make a few more big plays this fall.Were doing some things differently up front that are hopefully going to get the nose tackle some one-on-ones, to be able to push the pocket and harass the quarterback and even get some sacks, he said. Last year, I had two three sacks, thats not far off for a nose tackle, but with the skill set I have, I can improve. I want to get a couple more.On the field, however, isnt the only place where Cofield wants to be more assertive this season. He also wants to make a stronger impact in the locker room.During his time in New York, Cofield was considered among the teams most respected leaders. Now hes growing into the role here.That changed by the end of last year, Cofield said. I actually spoke to the team when we played that second Giants game, and I felt right then, the words I said, the positive response I got from the guys, they wanted to hear more from me. I feel like I am in a position where guys respect me and look up to me at this point.

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Redskins WR Josh Doctson is ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"

Redskins WR Josh Doctson is ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"

An Achilles injury robbed Josh Doctson of the bulk of his rookie season with the Redskins. After a strenuous offseason spent rehabbing and a clean bill of health, Doctson is ready to fight back.

"It feels good to be back out here with them and to be playing football again," Doctson said Wednesday at Redskins OTAs (full video above). "It's what I’ve been doing for a long time, it's why I’m here. I'm good at what I do."

Sure it's May and there was no contact, but Doctson showed how good he can look on Wednesday. He caught a number of balls throughout the two hour session and looked smooth in his routes. The second-year pro from TCU makes cuts while maintaining speed and balance, and the skills allowed him to get open a number of times to haul in passes using soft hands.

"Right now, so far, so good," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "I like the way he looks, like the way he runs and love the way he catches."

Late in the OTA session, Colt McCoy found Doctson for a deep touchdown. While the sidelines erupted, Doctson just calmly jogged back to the line of scrimmage and talked with coaches. 

Doctson explained that to "show my teammates, coaches and myself again that I can play with these guys, play at this level, it feels real good."

The Redskins will need the 6-foot-2, 202 lbs. Doctson this fall. With the exit of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards left the Washington offense. Free agent addition Terrelle Pryor will be expected to pick up a large chunk of that yardage, but Doctson will need to offset that loss as well.

"He’s been impressive. I think the big thing for him is the confidence in his Achilles and I think he’s got that right now. I saw him out there today and yesterday, the last two days he’s looked better and better. It looks like he can run down the field," Gruden said.

Doctson described the pain in his Achilles as "pretty much non-existent now."

Never a good place to look for nuanced analysis, last season some social media speculation suggested Doctson was homesick dealing with his injury. That theory seems foolish, as the receiver spent the entire offseason in Ashburn, working out and rehabbing.

"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling healthy," he said. "I got after it every day. It’s a tribute to my hard work why I'm feeling so feeling healthy."

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Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense

Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense

On Monday, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that even though there have been a lot of changes to his team’s defense, there would be no grace period for them to gel and start playing effectively.

“We have a new defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach, new secondary coach,” said Gruden. “We have some new players on defense, some free agent acquisitions, some draft picks. They’re going to have to learn on the fly and learn to play together, which is going to be the biggest challenge for us.

“I don’t think patience is in the dictionary here in D.C. We have to be good now.”

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

The defense had plenty of issues last year. They were 19th in points allowed but 28th in yards and 20th in opponents’ passer rating. The unit saved its worst for the most critical situations, finishing 26th in red zone defense and dead last in third-down conversion rate.   

The organization responded by promoting Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator, hiring the well-regarded Jim Tomsula to coach the defensive line, and by bringing in some more talent. Their top two draft picks, DE Jonathan Allen and OLB Ryan Anderson, should contribute to the defense right away. D.J. Swearinger was signed as a free agent to man the free safety spot while Su’a Cravens moves from linebacker to play strong safety. Free agents Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee should bolster the defensive line along with Allen.

Cornerback Josh Norman likes the changes and is confident that the team will do better.

“We will be [good]. Fixed points, will be,” he said. “We’ve got guys that’s capable of being that, of doing that. They will do that and we will be better. We’re definitely not going to have the product that we had last year, that’s for sure.

“We’ve got . . . edge rushers out here that’s pretty darn good. We got some guys in the draft that’s going to help us out. In the secondary as well, we brought guys in that’s going to fill that void for us.”

MORE REDSKINS: OTA practice observations 

In addition to drafting Anderson, the Redskins hope to have OLB Junior Galette healthy and contributing to the pass rush this year. He has missed the last two seasons after two Achilles injuries. The last two seasons that Galette played he had double-digit sacks each year and he was out participating in team drills yesterday, a good sign that he is on the road to good health.

“We’re going to be a whole lot better than we was last year,” said Norman. “The stuff they have us going, the scheme we’re going to be playing in is going to fit to what suits us, what we’re most capable of doing. I think it’s going to be a lot different result, the product on the field.”

A better defensive product on the field will almost certainly lead to a better overall Washington Redskins team. They will need to be better to keep up with what looks to be an improved and very competitive NFC East.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.