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Redskins training camp practice report, Day 7: Reed impresses again

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Redskins training camp practice report, Day 7: Reed impresses again

RICHMOND—The Redskins did not wear pads. They were coming off of three straight physical practice before their day off and the Texans are coming into town  for what is likely to be a tough three days.

—The defensive coaches want their players to jump on a ball that’s on the ground even when it’s there as the result of an incomplete pass. It certainly can’t hurt and you never know when something might appear to be an incompletion from one defender’s angle but it’s not. Better to jump on it than let it roll on the ground.

—Injured cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland (knee) and David Amerson (shoulder) did some rehab work on the side. Breeland had a brace on his injured right knee (sprained MCL) but he is able to walk and put weight on that leg. If he is ready in the lower range of the 4-6 week estimate he could be back in time to get into preseason game No. 4 against the Jaguars. Terrance Knighton missed practice with the flu.

—I think it should officially be his middle name—Jordan “If He Can Stay Healthy” Reed. He put a nice double move on Duke Ihenacho during one-on-one coverage drills. The safety stayed close, though, and Reed had to turn around and make the grab in the end zone. Kirk Cousins’ pass was about the only place it could have been. He has done something impressive almost every day of camp but everyone knows he can play, it's matter of how many games he is able to show up for.

Martrell Spaight had good coverage on Chris Thompson but the back made a good catch and was able to turn upfield.

—The first play in full team drills was Alfred Morris up the middle, just like it is almost every day. I think the defense is detecting the pattern as they stuffed it again today.

—A few snaps later Morris got around the right end and the crowd cheered. However in a live drill Keenan Robinson, who flew over from his inside linebacker spot, would have nail Morris for about a two-yard loss.

—On his first pass during team work, Robert Griffin III had Reed wide open but the pass was too high. Later in the same session he heated up, hitting DeSean Jackson deep down the middle. The receiver found a soft spot in the coverage and Griffin fired the ball to him about 20 yards downfield. All in all it was a so-so day for Griffin, who misfired on several passes.

Jerrell Powe got a lot of snaps at nose tackle. He has the size to be effective (6-2, 331), but he just doesn’t have the quickness or power to be a front-line player. I think he has a shot to make the team if the coaches decide that they would rather have a true nose tackle to spell Knighton rather than using Chris Baker or Kedric Golston.

Ryan Grant caught a medium pass from Colt McCoy and turned up the sideline. It looked like safeties Trenton Robinson and DaMon Cromartie-Smith had a bead on him but Grant found another gear and cruised past them. Speed is not supposed to be a great asset of his but he found some there.

Brandon Scherff looked good in one-on-one drills against Stephen Paea. Once it looked like the defensive end had the slip on him but Scherff recovered and got in front of him. One local analyst, a former NFL player, said that he was satisfied that Scherff will be able to hold his own once the games start.

—Rookie Arie Kouandjio had a similar battle with Ricky Jean-Francois. The veteran lineman initially had an advantage on him but Kouandjio recovered and executed the block. Not everyone has that recovery ability and having it give Kouandjio an edge.

—The same player turned analyst who liked Scherff was not nearly impressed with Trent Murphy. He said that Murphy had great burst at Stanford and you could nhear his initial contact with the blocker on the sideline. Murphy seemed to be much more tentative today.

—Reed made a nice, one-handed catch of a short McCoy pass. It would not have gained much but it was still an impressive athletic feat.

—Reed wasn’t the only tight end who made an athletic catch of a McCoy pass. On one throw Je’Ron Hamm turned around, jumped, and gathered in the pass for a gain of about 15 yards.

—Both in walkthrough and during the main practice the first-team offensive line featured Scherff at right guard and Morgan Moses at right tackle. The coaches say that it is to prepare for injuries down the road. But there is a possibility that it will become permanent so the situation bears watching.

—The crowd of 5,006 almost had something to cheer about a couple of times but Griffin misfired on a deep pass to Pierre Garçon and Rashad Ross couldn’t catch up with a long one from McCoy.

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.