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Redskins Practice report, Day 19: Williams and Amerson return

Redskins Practice report, Day 19: Williams and Amerson return

RICHMOND—The Redskins got together for their final day of practice in front of the fans here (there will be a closed practice tomorrow). Here are my observations.

—OT Trent Williams was back to a full workload. So was CB David Amerson, who participated in individual drills on Saturday. Still out for the Redskins were TE Jordan Reed (hamstring), WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder), and WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring).

—TE Ernst Brun, who tried out after the morning walkthrough and signed before the afternoon practice, was out on the field for individual drills. He made a nifty one-handed catch during one of the sessions.

—There was a bit of comedy during the first part of full team work. Someone on the offensive line jumped early and the play was not run. As the offense went back to the huddle, S Duke Ihenacho picked up the ball and marched off the five-yard penalty. That put the ball right in the middle of the offensive huddle.

—The defensive coaches are fanatics about players chasing after any loose ball that is on the ground. A pass was overthrown and DB coach Perry Fewell yelled “Ball, ball, ball!” as the football skittered along in the grass. The idea is that players shouldn’t be referees. No harm can come from scooping up a loose football and you never know when a call might go your way.

—RB Matt Jones has played with an attitude ever since he arrived in Ashburn. Maybe some of it is rubbing off on RB Alfred Morris. No question, Morris has been a tough, hard runner ever since he came to town in 2012. But he seems to be developing a bit more of an edge, some feistiness he didn’t have before.

Robert Griffin III has not thrown many interceptions this summer but he had two during one red zone seven-on-seven series. One of them wasn’t his fault. His pass to Trey Williams was on the mark but the ball bounced out of the running back’s hands and was picked off by S Dashon Goldson. The second one was deflected by CB Justin Rogers and picked off by, again, Goldson. Griffin finally got the offense into the end zone with a pass to Jones, who found a soft spot in the defense just over the goal line.

—Before yesterday I had never seen a practice start in pads and end without them but the Redskins took off their full shoulder pads about an hour and a half into practice, about the same time they on Saturday. It’s not a bad idea for a team that is somewhat banged up but I’ve covered plenty of limping Redskins teams and I’ve never seen a practice conducted like that.

—After the pads came off, Griffin dropped back to pass. He had to step up in the pocket and he may have been sacked before he threw to WR Pierre Garçon on a deep crossing pattern. The pass was wobbly but Garçon made a nice catch for a good gain. A couple of plays later ILB Keenan Robinson got a hand on a Griffin pass from out of the pocket but WR Rashad Ross adjusted and made the catch.

—Later on with the second team offense on the field, RB Chris Thompson took a handoff on a draw and popped up the middle for a touchdown on third and goal at the five. He is quietly putting a lock on the third-down back job. It was his to lose coming into camp and he has done nothing to lose it.

—On a third and one from about the 40, Griffin couldn’t handle the snap, recovered, rolled out, and overthrew WR Andre Roberts in the end zone. Jay Gruden seemed to be particularly disappointed by this play. He had his hands on his knees and stared at the ground for several seconds after it was over.

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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

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A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

A video posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”