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Redskins practice report Day 13: Good day for RG3, with an asterisk

Redskins practice report Day 13: Good day for RG3, with an asterisk

RICHMOND—It was hot and sticky as the Redskins made their final preparations for their preseason opener in Cleveland in two days. Here are my observations from practice and some quotes from around the Bon Secours training center:

—The players were not in pads, although some wore shells. This is typical for a regular season Friday practice, two days before a game.

—It seems like the tight ends spend a lot more time working on blocking this year than they do on catching. The group moved from a blocking drill with the offensive tackles to one with just the tight ends. Although I can’t say for sure since I didn’t measure the time spent in any way, it appears that blocking is more of a priority than it was before.

Robert Griffin III was about as sharp as he has been all summer, completing seven of seven passes in 11 on 11 work. It should be noted that since they were not wearing pads they were not going at full speed. Still, the Redskins have run practices at similar speeds during this camp and Griffin has not been as sharp.

—Griffin also had a perfect completion percentage during seven on seven work. He capped his six for six session with a 50-yard bomb to Pierre Garçon, who had beaten safety Duke Ihenacho. The pass settled into the receiver’s arms as soon as he crossed the goal line.

—When it was his turn, Kirk Cousins executed a similar pass. He lofted it to receiver Rashad Ross, who had a step on his defender. The pass was on target but the ball bounced out of Ross’ arms.

—Back in full team drills, Griffin threw one deep to Niles Paul, who had beaten linebacker Adam Hayward. The pass was on target and Paul “scored” easily.

Kai Forbath had his second straight strong showing in field goal kicking at the end of practice. He split the uprights on all four of his attempts, from 30, 33, 38, and 40 yards

Notable quotables:

Jordan Reed sees that things are settling down as his unit enters its second year working in Jay Gruden’s offense: “Everybody is where they need to be at. There aren’t as much questions for the coaches. Guys are just getting to a lot smoother.” How does quarterback Robert Griffin III look to him? “He looks real comfortable, man. His grasp of the offense seems pretty tight and he seems like he’s got it.”

—Injuries have forced the Redskins to scramble at cornerback. They signed two new corners last week and they moved wide receiver Quinton Dunbar to cornerback as well. Safety Duke Ihenacho was asked what the biggest issue is with the changes: “Slower communication. Sometimes you got to reiterate a check. If it’s a young guy, it’s like, ‘what’s that mean?’ Some guys just got here a week ago, they haven’t been here all offseason so we’re trying to catch them up to speed, they just have to learn the whole playbook. So when they’re out there with us, the veterans, there’s not just one guy out there, it’s two or three and it was hard to communicate.”

—Preseason openers are old hat to the veterans. But to players like rookie fourth-round pick G Arie Kouandjio they are something special: “I plan on playing a lot. . . I want to diminish as many mistakes as I can. I just want to play to the best of my ability, I just want to go out there and let my hair loose . . . and just play ball.”

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on 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.