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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

Hot topics

—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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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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

 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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.