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Redskins practice report, Day 12: A strong day for Forbath

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Redskins practice report, Day 12: A strong day for Forbath

RICHMOND—The Redskins returned to Richmond and so did the rain. There was some pretty steady rainfall for about the first half of practice but it tapered off for the latter part of the session. Here are my observations.

Robert Griffin III had an up and down day. In fact, it probably was more down than up. His first pass attempt of the day came as he was moving to his right and it was about a three-quarters overhand delivery. Griffin might have had WR Pierre Garçon on the sideline but the pass was off the mark, giving the receiver no chance. A few plays later, Garçon beat CB DeAngelo Hall on a crossing pattern and Griffin’s pass was on the money. For most of the day, he was on the money with his feet set and throwing a short pattern. Later in some simulated game situations he missed his first two, overthrowing Ryan Grant and leading Evan Spencer by too much over the middle. He finally nailed one, a dart to Andre Roberts.

Joe Barry was getting on OLB Preston Smith during a run blocking drill, using salty language not suitable for this site. The rookie was getting moved off of the ball and Barry was trying to get him to use the proper technique to get loose. Smith wasn’t the only front seven defender struggling; despite the fact that the drill strongly favors the defense since they know what’s coming the offensive line did pretty well in the drill.

Colt McCoy worked with the second unit, Kirk Cousins with the third. On defense, the Redskins finally had their starting cornerbacks, Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall, back on the field together.

—Cousins has been pretty good at avoiding interceptions compared to how he performed in training camp last year but he threw a bad one today. He rolled to his left and then threw back to the right. Safety Kyshoen Jarrett tracked the ball from the moment it left the QB’s hand and easily picked it off. A bad decision and bad throw by Cousins, no two ways about it.

—Starting RT Morgan Moses had a tough time with OLB Trent Murphy during one on one pass blocking drills. The two second-year players squared off three times and Murphy won all three matchups. All Moses could muster on the third try was a shove that Murphy easily beat.

—Moses and Preston Smith squared off twice. On the first snap Smith got around Moses, forcing the offensive lineman to reach out and hold. The second time Moses just stonewalled Smith, whose feet kept moving but the rookie wasn’t going anywhere.

—With RB Matt Jones out with a minor knee issue, Chris Thompson got some additional work. He is learning to be a more patient runner, relying on more than just his speed to pick up yardage. Jones did take part in some individual drills.

—There were some apparently minor injuries suffered by two offensive starters. OL Brandon Scherff rolled his ankle on a running play and TE Niles Paul suffered a shoulder injury and left the field with athletic trainer Larry Hess. We will provide updates when they are available.

Kai Forbath has a tough time kicking field goals on Saturday, missing two of five from usually makeable range, so Jay Gruden gave him another shot today. He was much better, going four for four from 34, 36, 43, and 45 yards. A couple of his kicks were no doubters, traveling far over the net that extends to the top of the goal posts and going right down the middle. Ty Long, the other kicker in camp, also boomed some but he went wide left with one from 40 yards.

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Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Some NFL players ooze confidence. They thrive on emphasizing what they do well and not speaking about weaknesses. In a game as tough and physical as pro football, some players need to feel bulletproof to survive.

Chris Thompson is not like that. He was one of the stars in the Redskins’ 27-20 win over the Rams on Sunday. He rushed three times for 77 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 29 yards. And while he enjoyed the win, he did not revel in his performance as he made a glaring mistake.

RELATED: JAY GRUDEN NOT INCREASING THOMPSON'S WORKLOAD

In the third quarter, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw him a perfect pass over the middle. The speedy Thompson had nothing but green grass and white stripes in front of him. But he dropped the pass, turning what likely would have been a 62-yard touchdown into an incompletion.

That play stuck with him despite his touchdown runs of 61 and seven yards.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “On the plane ride, getting dressed after the game, this morning watching film, when I was outside at practice, I was thinking about that one play. My first thing I wanted to do when I got out there in individuals with the quarterbacks was to run that route again and catch the ball.”

FANTASY: TO START CHRIS THOMPSON OR NOT?

Instead of reliving his glory, he went to work to correct one mistake.

This is not a lone instance of Thompson focusing on negative plays that he made. He said that mistakes stick in his mind more than good plays. During a few minutes talking to reporters on Wednesday, he recalled going the wrong way on a choice route against the Dolphins in 2015, costing a possible touchdown, making a similar mistake against the Browns last year, and errors that led to sacks of Cousins last year and of Robert Griffin III a few years ago.

“All of those things that I look back at that I did wrong, it helped me become a better player this year,” said Thompson. “I’ve been able to go back and look at that and see what went wrong and fix it now. As of late as I’ve become more confident in what I’m doing and more confident in my abilities I’m able to play better.”

Whatever Thompson is doing to become a better player is working. He signed a two-year contract extension earlier this month. Jay Gruden sings his praises whenever he’s asked about him. His teammates almost universally admire and respect him. In his fifth NFL season, many analysts around the league are starting to recognize him as a main cog in the Redskins’ offense.

It is unlikely that he will change his approach.

“I had to mess up a lot in order to get where I am now,” he said. Thompson will continue to perfect his game by putting his imperfect moments under the microscope. 

MORE REDSKINS: FIVE UNDER PRESSURE VS. RAIDERS

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Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

One of the best offenses in 2016, the Redskins early returns so far in 2017 rank somewhere between underwhelming and underachieving. That does not mean good games aren't coming in the future, however, at least according to head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

"I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better," Cousins said Wednesday. "Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks."

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In the first two games of the season, a loss at home to the Eagles in Week 1 and a win in Los Angeles over the Rams, Cousins hasn't played particularly well. Against Philadelphia, he played poorly, accounting for three turnovers and completing just 57 percent of his passes. In LA, he showed progress. No turnovers and his completion percentage jumped up nearly 10 points. 

More importantly, Cousins shined on the final drive of the game, going 3 for 3 and throwing the game-winning touchdown. It was that drive, and a number of near misses in both games, that has Gruden optimistic. 

The coach called the Redskins passing game "very, very close" to hitting on all cylinders.

"There is a lot we can improve on in the passing game, from Kirk to the routes to the protection. It’s a work in progress, but we will get there," Gruden said Monday. "We have total faith that we will get it done and his numbers will get better."

Considered in a certain way, he's right. 

In Week 1, the Redskins offensive line struggled and Cousins was sacked four times. The run game got nothing going, generating just 64 yards on the ground. Cousins was able to throw for 240 yards, and despite all the turnovers, the offense still had a chance to steal a win late in the fourth quarter. 

In Week 2, the Redskins line blocked better and the run game produced at a high level. Cousins' yardage total was quite low, only 179 yards, but a big gainer got dropped and a few other opportunities were missed. 

Cousins supporters will scream about passes being dropped in Weeks 1 and 2. Cousins detractors will scream about passes missed in Weeks 1 and 2.

READ MORE: KIRK COUSINS' HITS AND MISSES FROM WEEK 2

The truth is likely in the middle. There is a solid baseline of production from Cousins from the last two seasons, and clearly Gruden expects that to come. Perhaps Week 3 against Oakland will be the opportunity. 

"We’re just going to keep sticking with the plan, getting these guys open the best way we can and hopefully we give Kirk the protection and he sees the throws and makes the throws," Gruden said. "But we’re right there, really. I like the group that we have."

The 2016 Redskins finished third in the league in total yards gained. Obviously the team lost a ton of production with the exits of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Don't discount that, or the departure of former offensive coordinator Sean McVay. 

Despite all that, Cousins still has weapons. And talent. He knows he can be better, and knows he needs to be better.

"We have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out,” Cousins said. 

To beat the Raiders, the Redskins will need to bring everything out of the tank. That likely means a 300-yard passing game from Cousins along with multiple touchdowns. 

The quarterback and the coach think the offense is ready, and close to a breakout game. Maybe they're right. 

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