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Redskins training camp report, day 5: Things get chippy

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Redskins training camp report, day 5: Things get chippy

RICHMOND—The Redskins held their fifth full practice of training camp in full pads, football pants and all. Here are my observations:

—Lined up to return punts were DeSean Jackson, Lache Seastrunk, Richard Crawford, Nick Williams, Rashad Ross, and Chris Thompson. Crawford, Williams, and Thompson each fumbled a punt.

—An open-field tackling drill didn’t last long but it was a lot of fun. Safety Ross Madison got a good hit on WR Cody Hoffman.

—Brian Baker gets down to the nitty-gritty on pass rush techniques. Here’s a Vine of one of their drills. (Note: This is my first attempt at this medium, I’m sure there are some refinements that I can make to my technique as well.)

—One more time with the Vine thing, a look at blitz pickups, running backs vs. safeties.

—The defense also did a drill where everyone ran over in pursuit of the ball carrier. Trash cans represented blockers so it wasn’t realistic but the goal is to create the mindset. Ryan Clark talked about it yesterday. “When you’re playing the LeSean McCoys and the Darren Sproles, you have to gang tackle those guys,” he said. “You have to get a lot of people around that ball.”

—Silas Redd has shown some promise but he has to remember what Gruden says all the time—low man wins. Near the goal line in an 11 on 11 session, Redd hit the line upright. Very quickly, he was knocked back a couple of yards behind the line of scrimmage.

—Lache Seastrunk didn’t try to go through the defense he went around it. The rookie displayed some impressive speed scooting around the left end and into the end zone from about 10 yards out.

—When Robert Griffin III was a rookie and new to the team and Pierre Garçon was new to the team after signing as a free agent, Griffin threw to Garçon frequently during training camp to develop chemistry between the quarterback and receiver. This year, Griffin is strongly focusing on throwing to Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson.

—During 11 on 11 drills, Griffin saw an opening up the middle and shot through it, picking up about 20 yards. He looked very much like the 2012 version of RG3, covering the 20 yards in the blink of an eye. This is why Gruden, while he is going to cut way back on planned runs by Griffin, will encourage him to run out of the pocket when the situation calls for it.

—Things got a bit heated, both literally as it got hotter and figuratively as a couple of scuffles broke out. First Ted Bolser and Chase Minnifield got into it and then it was cornerback Peyton Thompson and Roberts. The latter was a push, with Roberts losing his helmet but getting off a solid punch.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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.

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