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Practice report: RG3 sharp

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Practice report: RG3 sharp

RICHMOND—Here’s my look at today’s Redskins practice, first with a look at Robert Griffin III’s day and then a walk around a few other notable events.

(Note: just to mix it up we're shifting back to the old school, non-Twitter report for the last practice report of the year.

—Griffin looks none the worse for wear the day after his rigorous 16-rep day on Wednesday. Well, OK, it really wasn’t all that tough.

—In position drills, passing to receivers covered by nobody, Griffin looks sharp. Earlier in camp he seemed like he was using his arm more and his (right) plant leg less. Now he is driving off of the injured leg more and using his arm less. That’s helping his velocity and accuracy. And, most important, it’s a sign that the knee is rounding into shape.

—Griffin’s first set of four reps in 11 on 11 includes two handoffs to Alfred Morris and two passes. One pass is a dumpoff to Roy Helu and the other is a nice dart to Josh Morgan, who was about 25 yards downfield on the numbers. He executed the handoffs perfectly, for the record.

—In between reps, Griffin stands by Kyle Shanahan but seems to be focused more on what he needs to do the next time he’s behind center rather than paying close attention to what’s going on when he is out. In other words, he’s not doing as many as many “mental reps”, he’s more thinking about his own reps.

—The highlight of RG3’s second set is a play-action bootleg pass to Fred Davis. Griffin hit him on the move about 15 yards downfield.

—The next time he was out there it was just for one play but it was a good one. He hit Josh Morgan on a deep post, the pass right on the money. At this point Griffin is four of four.

—Griffin doubled his number of completions the next time out. He was four for four, all of them in the five- to 10-yard range.

—In a goal line set, Griffin gets two snaps. On the first one he hands off to Alfred Morris. The next one was the play-action bootleg and he found Davis in the back of the end zone for his first “touchdown” of 11 on 11 drills.

—After hitting Aldrick Robinson for 19 yards after a play fake, Griffin had taken 17 snaps and was 10 for 10.

—It was in the next set that Griffin threw his first incompletion. He went for Pierre Garçon on an out pattern but the pass was way wide.

—A little bit later on, Griffin hit Garçon on that sideline patter and that was his last play of the day. In 21 snaps he was 14 of 15 for (per John Keim of ESPN and Zac Boyer of the Free Lance Star) 179 yards with the one touchdown.

In some other notable happenings:

—It’s apparent that the defense has been instructed to go extra hard after the ball when a rookie gets a carry. After one Jawan Jamison carry the defense swarmed around him, tugging and punching at the ball. They kept it up every time Jamison got the ball and when Chris Thompson got it although it didn’t seem that Thompson was treated quite as roughly as Jamison.

—The highlight catch of the day came when Kirk Cousins went to Leonard Hankerson on a deep post. Both the receiver and the defensive back (who couldn’t be identified because the defenders were wearing bibs as the emulated the Steelers defense) got their hands on the ball. Hankerson snatched it away and rolled downfield.

—Later Cousins threw a pass intended for Jordan Reed that newly acquired linebacker Quan Sturdivant tipped and intercepted. Nice play but Reed needs to learn how to play defensive back when he needs to. He didn’t make much of an effort to knock the pass down.

—Speaking of receivers who don’t try to knock down passes a defender is about to catch, Dezmon Briscoe had better pick up his level of hustle. He turned into a spectator on interceptions by Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford. He gave just no effort at all to break up the pass.

—Your know, since Griffin started running in 11 on 11, the seven on seven drills have gone away. They didn’t do any of them last year either. The Redskins, Kyle Shanahan in particular, don’t like seven on seven, they’d rather run the whole team to simulate the offense. Assuming Griffin is healthy, next year I don’t think we’ll see seven on sevens at the Bon Secours training center.

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Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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