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Need to Know: Redskins rookie camp roundup

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Need to Know: Redskins rookie camp roundup

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 16, eight days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 127 days ago. It will be 119 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 8; Redskins training camp starts 73; Preseason opener @ Falcons 87

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—Center Austin Reiter, a seventh-round draft pick last year, has put on some pounds. Last year he spent most of the year on the practice squad, making him eligible to attend this rookie camp, while being listed at 6-3, 296. His new weight has not been revealed but he is clearly bigger. But he still has some work to do to get a spot on the depth chart—bigger maybe not better. Last year it was telling that when Kory Lichtensteiger went on injured reserve, the team signed veteran Brian de la Puente to be the backup center rather than bringing Reiter off of the practice squad. It’s hard to see him challenging Lichtensteiger for the starting job at center but he could battle Josh LeRibeus for the backup spot.

—There was a lot of fan buzz about Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams, who was a lot of fun to watch in college. But the facts are that he’s 5-11 and from a spread-style offense. “He’s another shotgun-type guy and not used to being under center,” said Jay Gruden. “But I thought he handled it very well. Did a nice job and threw some good balls.” He also threw some pretty bad balls. He was one of the QB’s in this passing drill that frustrated Gruden (the video ends just before the coach's NSFW outburst quoted at the bottom of the Instagram post).

Gruden after this drill: I'm going to throw these f-ing balls if you can't do better.

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—A year ago, the Redskins paid offensive tackle Takoby Cofield the maximum allowable signing bonus to get the Duke product on board as an undrafted free agent. He spent last year on the practice squad and he is back to try to make the roster again. On the field on Saturday you could tell that he has spent a year practicing with an NFL team, moving fluidly and showing good fundamental techniques. He could have a legitimate shot at beating out Ty Nsekhe for the backup tackle spot. That won’t be easy to do since Nsekhe, who essentially was a 30-year-old rookie, held his own when he was called upon. But Cofield will have a shot.

—Su’s Cravens lined up at inside linebacker during camp and that confused many who thought he was going to be a safety or outside linebacker. But ILB is just a temporary stop for the second-round draft pick. “Initially we have to teach him a position, and right now it’s going to be the inside linebacker,” said Jay Gruden. That’s a good starting spot to learn the entire defense and that is a first step for a hybrid defensive player. It may be a while before we see Cravens’ full versatility on display. It’s a tall task for a rookie to learn one position in the four months between the draft and the start of the regular season. There could be a substantial learning curve when it comes to being able to handle multiple positions. How fast he can move around and become the chess piece that he is envisioned to be will be up to him and how soon he can learn multiple positions.

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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back