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Hall will miss an old friend if he plays slot

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Hall will miss an old friend if he plays slot

They say that the sideline is a defenders best friend. Old Man Sideline never missed a tackle or blew a coverage.DeAngelo Hall could be missing his best friend a lot this season.The veteran cornerback, who is entering his entering his ninth season, has been getting a great deal of work at the slot cornerback position after having played on the outside for most of his career.I'm getting a lot of reps out there as the nickel, Hall said. I'm feeling comfortable I'm feeling good.Calling the slot corner the nickel makes it sound like its a substitute position that should be filled by a lesser player. That used to be the case. However, the game has changed with teams going into three-wide sets on first and 10 about as often as they do on third and eight.Greg Cosell of NFL Films wrote the followingKeep in mind teams also run three-wide groups in normal down and distance situations as a regular feature of their offense. What burden does that place on the defense, as it specifically relates to the slot corner? It means he has three responsibilities: cover man (the most apparent), blitzer and run defender (not talked about enough). Those are three distinct skill sets, but they are all required of a slot corner.In short, the position cant be an afterthought. No longer can you get away with throwing your third-best cornerback out there and hoping that he can hold it down. Thats what the Redskins tried to last year by putting Kevin Barnes in the slot. The results were mixed at best. Barnes was benched late in the year in favor of Byron Westbrook, who is no longer with the team.Hall recognizes the challenge involved in the playing the slot including the loss of the reliable chalk line.There's a lot more room out there is the slot, he said. The receiver's got two ways to go, you've got to cover the whole field as opposed to playing corner where you can go, that's the sideline.You can see your friend over there, the sideline, you've got help sometimes. It's definitely a lot easier as opposed to playing nickel but we've got a lot of things with the nickel where you've got a chance to go our and have some fun, too.Among the fun things Hall will get to do if he plays the slot would be, as Cosell noted, blitzing the quarterback.I don't have but one career sack so it's going to be interesting to see if I get around the quarterback, said Hall.It also will be interesting to see how this plays out. The teams of the NFC East and many of the rest of the teams on the Redskins schedule are loaded at receiver and the Redskins are going to need to put their cornerbacks in spots that best utilize their talents. If that means teaching a veteran like Hall new tricks that is what they will need to do.

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Redskins' RB Kelley working to stay ahead of the competition, present and future

Redskins' RB Kelley working to stay ahead of the competition, present and future

Each day during training camp, Redskins Insider Rich Tandler will pick out a play from practice to break down in some detail. The focus will be on plays that can give us some hints as to what we can look forward to this season.

RICHMOND—For the past year, nearly everything has gone right for Rob Kelley. He was able to get signed to the Redskins as an undrafted free agent, make the roster, be in a position to jump into the starting lineup when the starter faltered, and play well enough to be a lock for the starting job this year. That’s not a bad year.

He came out of the season with plenty of positives but also some things he needs to work on. One of those areas where improvement is needed is catching passes. He caught 12 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. That is not bad considering he didn’t play much in the first half of the season and Chris Thompson usually was in the game in passing situations. Still, he was targeted 18 times and he had four drops. At that drop rate, the quarterback often will look elsewhere even if the player is open.

RELATED: Redskins camp hot topics

If Kelley wants to be a complete player he needs to take advantage of all opportunities to touch the ball. And he did get better catching passes as the year went on. Kelley dropped three passes in his first three games as the starter and then just one more the rest of the year.

In practice on Friday, Kelley made a play that could give quarterback Kirk Cousins plenty of confidence in him. It was a drill early in practice with running backs and tight ends running patterns against linebackers. Cousins was the quarterback in this particular drill. Kelly ran a short pattern out to the right and Cousins’ pass was wide of the mark. But Kelley lunged for the ball and made a nice, one-handed catch while going to the ground.

MORE REDSKINS: Live practice report, Day 2

Kelley has been working on his pass catching but you generally don’t practice one-handed, lunging catches. But maybe he has. Even though Jay Gruden is always talking about how highly he thinks of Kelley, he is smart enough not to take anything for granted.

“My mindset [doesn’t] change. Every year you’ve got to make the team,” he said. “This year they drafted a running back, next year they’re going to draft a running back, the year after that they’ll probably draft a running back. You just have to make sure you come in and do your job and control what you can control.”

Gruden said that Kelley was the fifth-string running back at this time last year. Does he strive to keep that fifth-string mentality?

“Always,” he said with a smile. “It’s very easy to go back down to fifth string.”

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.

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Need to Know: Redskins hot topics—Norman wants to bury Beckham feud

Need to Know: Redskins hot topics—Norman wants to bury Beckham feud

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 29, 35 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 209 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 43 days.

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:35; Jonathan Allen press conference after walkthrough, approx. 11:45; Jay Gruden press conference 2:45; Practice 3:00; players available after both practices.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 12
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 21
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 57

Hot topics from Redskins camp

RICHMOND—Some news and notes from around Redskins training camp.

—When talking about what happens in camp I frequently forget to mention that they are not in pads yet. That will start tomorrow. Speaking of the defensive line Jay Gruden said, “We’re in day one, day two, we haven’t even put on pads yet so we're giving everybody the opportunity. That’s what it’s all about.” We still talk about and analyze what happens out there. But the significance of it is diminished until the pads go on. Even then, it’s not as significant as preseason games and those, of course, are exponentially less telling that regular season games. Pads go on tomorrow and the first preseason game is in less than two weeks so we’re getting there.

—Josh Norman really wants to put the Odell Beckham Jr. feud in the past. At least that’s what he said. “It’s been in the past until you brought it up,” he said when asked about it. And it was in the past last year until Beckham brought it up. I don’t get the impression that he hates it because he does seem to get under Beckham’s skin and that’s a competitive advantage for Norman. The thing is, this year there is only a two-day media window between the Saints game on Sunday and the first matchup of the year with the Giants on Thanksgiving Day. It may or may not be a topic.

—The Redskins weren’t the only team that added a tall receiver in the offseason. The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffrey and the Giants brought Brandon Marshall in. Norman says he’d rather cover the big guys. “Tall guys, we’re the same,” said Norman. “It’s just who’s going to go for the ball, who’s going to get the ball. Short guys are quicker. They move in spaces to where you’ve got to touch them, you’ve got reach out. Some things they do, it’s more so of they’re trying to set you up, where those big guys, they’re just going to try to bully you. That’s my game, I enjoy that. Short guys, they [are] crafty”

—I’ll have more on this later but I thought it was interesting that Rob Kelley said that he doesn’t feel much different this year, when he likely going to start at running back and definitely will have a job after the September 2 cuts, than he did last year, when he was fighting just to b on the team. He still must compete. For motivation, he need look no further than the fall from grace experienced by teammate Matt Jones, who went from being the unquestioned starter year ago to being a trade or cut candidate.

—Maurice Harris suffered a strained knee in practice and was seen on the sideline with a wrap around it. Derek Carrier rolled his ankle. Both are day to day (but, then again, aren’t we all?).

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.

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