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Need to Know: Five things to watch during Redskins rookie camp

Need to Know: Five things to watch during Redskins rookie camp

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 16, 75 days before the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, VA.

Nickel coverage

Here are five things I’ll be looking for at today’s rookie camp at Redskins Park.

The top picks—It’s hard tell much about linemen in a no-pads practice session but it will be interesting to watch Brandon Scherff at work. I presume they will line him up on the right side because that’s where he’s going to be playing. Preston Smith will normally line up against the left side of the opposing offense so they may not go head to head much. But I have to think they’ll move Smith around. Tough to get a good feel for the defensive front and power-blocking linemen without pads but it’s possible to get a feel for their technique and how they handle themselves.

Receivers vs. defensive backs—My eyes will be on Jamison Crowder, who could push Andre Roberts for snaps at slot receiver at some point this year. Does he run routes and catch with his hands like an NFL receiver does? He should be able to get some separation against fellow rookies but how well does he attack the ball when a catch is contested? And Jay Gruden seemed to be pretty excited about sixth-round cornerback Tevin Mitchel, we’ll see what the coach likes about him.

Tryout quarterbacks—The Redskins had planned on having Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday there but he apparently is no longer interested in playing football. Now the Redskins will line up with Anthony Neyer of USC and Hutson Mason of Georgia behind center. Mason started all 13 games for the Bulldogs last year and completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 2,168 yards and 21 touchdowns. Neyer is considerably less experienced; he did not attempt a pass in a game for the Trojans. It will be interesting to see what they have.

Running backs—I’ll be most interested in the biggest running back there and in the smallest one. Matt Jones nearly has linebacker size, but how well does he move? And I expect Trey Williams, the 5-7, 195-lb. undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, to put on a pretty good show and outrun some defensive backs and make an impressive move or two. There also is a curiosity factor in seeing former Alabama QB Blake Sims try out as a running back. That’s where he played as a freshman for the Crimson Tide so he’s not totally unfamiliar with it.

Undrafted gems—It is likely that two or three undrafted players who are not on our radar right now will crack the 53-man roster when September rolls around. I could pull out a few names like Virginia Tech safety Detrick Bonner (a tryout player) or Duke offensive tackle Takoby Cofield. But it’s better just to watch and see who stands out enough to get a shot at the next round. That’s OTA’s starting the last week of this month.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Rookie minicamp, Redskins Park. Two sessions, 10:25 and 3:25, both open to the media. Jay Gruden will speak to media after the first practice. Players are available after both practices.

—It’s been 139 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 120 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 31; Redskins training camp starts 75; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 131

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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