RICHMOND—The weather was a winner again today as practice was held under partly cloudy skies with temperatures that climbed through the 70’s as practice went on. Here are my observations:
—They were permitted to wear pads for the first time and most of the players were in shoulder pads, helmets, and shorts. The one exception was Ryan Clark, who wore football pants.
—They did special teams drills first, as they have been. Yesterday I asked Gruden why they did it that way. “A lot of teams have special teams in practice,” he said. “It just kind of disrupts the flow. Coach [Ben] Kotwica wanted to get the special teams done first – a big 15-minute period done first where they are focused in on it, they’re fresh, everybody’s involved in it and it’s worked out very well so far.”
—As you would expect, there was more contact with the pads on. The blocking on the kickoff return drills was almost live (although it was 2 blocking 2, not full team) and there was some hard contact made with the returner, though there was no tackling to the groud.
—Special teams assistant Bradford Banta was giving detailed instruction on forcing the opposing kickoff coverage team to commit to going one way and then setting up to run the other way. There was a lot of technical talk of spacing and moving the wedge.
—No changes on the second- or third-team offensive lines. Morgan Moses is still at left tackle and Tom Compton is on the right side.
—I don’t know how RB Silas Redd can make the roster; the numbers game at the position works against the undrafted free agent. But if he makes more runs like the nice one he popped up the middle during 11 on 11 work the coaches will have a tough decision to make.
—The play of the day was Robert Griffin III running a bootleg to the right and launching a deep pass to DeSean Jackson. It should be noted that undrafted free agent cornerback Courtney Bridget had the coverage.
—The defense made amends a few snaps later when they reacted quickly to a bubble screen to Jackson. A mass of bodies in burgundy shirts (the color the defense wears) corralled Jackson out of bounds.
—The play of the day on defense came from Chris Baker. Griffin handed off to Pierre Garçon on an end around. Baker shot into the backfield and got Garçon for what would have been about an eight-yard loss. That drew a very enthusiastic response.
—There were quite a few snaps with the first-team offense going against the second- and third-team defense. Mike Shanahan’s philosophy was to run the 1’s against the 1’s almost exclusively. Gruden doesn’t do it that way. "You’ve got to test them, see if they're any good,” he said yesterday. “You have got to put them in with the ones, you have got to put them in with the twos. You have got to mix and match, mix and mingle these guys. You can't just put them in threes against threes all the time because then you don’t know how good they really are.”
—DeAngelo Hall made a pretty easy pick-six of a Griffin pass that was intended for Jackson in the flat. Hall just sat on the route, jumped in, and made the pick. He rolled near the end zone and when Darrel Young approached him he flipped the ball over to Ryan Kerrigan, who stepped in for the TD.
—It was starting to get quite warm towards the end of practice and some sort of scuffle started to seem inevitable. It finally happened when Tom Compton and Darryl Sharpton got into it a little bit. No major punches were thrown and order was restored quickly.