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Need to Know: 5 things to look for during Redskins-Patriots practices

Need to Know: 5 things to look for during Redskins-Patriots practices

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 4, three days before the Redskins open the preseason against the Patriots.

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The Redskins and Patriots start three days of joint practices today at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. Here are some things to look for.

—The Redskins’ practices have generally run like this—stretching, then special teams, position drills, 11 on 11, seven on seven passing and one on one blocking (going on simultaneously), more special teams, walkthrough, and more 11 on 11. Sometimes the finish up with field goal kicking. It will be interesting to see how things run with the Patriots in town. Bill Belichick certainly has his own ideas when it comes to these joint practices so it’s likely that the deck will be shuffled with some different cards thrown in. Jay Gruden didn’t get into many details so we’ll find out just how these sessions go just like everybody else.

—There is plenty of talk about having Robert Griffin III and Tom Brady sharing the same field. But, of course, they won’t really be going against each other, as any quarterback will tell you as he goes into a game against another noted QB. The matchup to watch will be Griffin trying to deal with Darrelle Revis. You know, the guy who was the best cornerback in the game before Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson decided that they were (pro tip—Revis probably is still the best). Revis likes to bait QB’s into thinking a receiver is open before he swoops in and picks off the pass. It will be educational for Griffin to be involved in the cat and mouse game.

—Keenan Robinson has had some good battles in pass coverage against Jordan Reed. Unfortunately, the Redskins new Mike linebacker may not get to test his mettle against one of the best tight ends in the game, at least not in full team drills. The Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski has been a limited participant in practice at training camp due to a torn ACL he suffered last December. He has been doing position drills and individual work but he hasn’t been in any team drills. So if Robinson is going to be able to use Gronk as a measuring stick it will be during some one on one coverage drills. Good experience for Robinson but not quite the same.

—When the Bengals set up joint practices with the Falcons last year, Gruden initially was skeptical but he ended up seeing a lot of value in it. “I thought it was great,” Gruden said. “Initially going in I wasn’t too fired up about it, but going into it and just giving them the chance to practice against different people, I think that’s the big thing. You get tired sometimes of seeing the same people over and over again as a player is concerned. Now you’re going against somebody else and somebody else that’s trying to make a team so the competition should be fierce, I would think. It’s a great opportunity for some of these young guys to really show what they have against another football team that’s been very good for a long time. I think it’s a great chance for everybody to learn and get better and also a great chance for us as coaches to evaluate our guy and evaluate what we’re doing schematically.”

—Gruden said that there is no concern about showing anything that might be used during the game on Thursday. In reality, the first preseason game will be a continuation of the joint practices only they will be keeping time, playing under the lights, and charging admission. It will be a vanilla scheme and both teams are more concerned with judging individual performances than in the score of the game. Nobody, not even the notoriously secretive Bill Belichick, is worried about giving away any secrets here in Richmond.

If you have any questions about what's going on at training camp, hit me up in the comments. I'll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Timeline

—Redskins Hall of Fame running back John Riggins was born on this day in 1949.

Today’s schedule: Joint practices with Patriots; Bill Belichick media availability 8:00; Practice 8:35; Jay Gruden media availability 3:50; Walkthrough 4:10

—It’s been 218 days since the Redskins played a game; in 34 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 3; Final cuts 26; Redskins @ Eagles 48

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3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

Championship Sunday produced a flurry of Redskins news. A pair of internal promotions erased the team's vacant coordinator positions, as Greg Manusky landed the defensive coordinator spot and Matt Cavanaugh will take over as offensive coordinator. When Sean McVay left to coach the Rams, many expected Cavanaugh to take over his spot. Here are three reasons why:

  1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it - There was plenty to criticize from the Redskins the last two seasons, but not much of it came on offense. Cavanaugh joined the organization in 2015 as quarterback coach, and the offense has consistently improved in those two seasons. Though the team struggled to score TDs in the Red Zone, the 2016 version of the Redskins moved the ball at a team-record clip and ranked among the top offensive teams in NFL yardage. When something is working as well as the 'Skins offense, it's not wise to change it dramatically.
  2. Impressive work - Cavanaugh began coaching QBs for the Redskins in 2015. Kirk Cousins took over as Redskins starting quarterback in 2015. In two years working together, Cousins twice broke the Redskins franchise passing record and is now poised to get a mega-contract in free agency. Talking after the 'Skins loss to the Giants earlier this month, Jay Gruden said, "I think [Cousins'] really improved his game a lot in the last couple years. And a lot of it has to do with Matt Cavanaugh and Sean McVay."
  3. Make the call - The biggest question remaining for the Redskins - outside of the HUGE unknown surrounding Cousins - will be about play calling. All indications are that Jay Gruden will return to calling the plays from the Washington sideline, and obviously, that's a situation Cavanaugh understands. For two seasons now, Cavanaugh along with McVay, Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan have had input on play calling. With McVay gone, Cavanaugh and Callahan will likely contribute even more in support of Gruden. 

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the Manusky hire?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the Manusky hire?

Hit the poll and then come back here to comment or just replay on Twitter. Thanks!