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Redskins Tuesday minicamp report, defense: Some easy INT's

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Redskins Tuesday minicamp report, defense: Some easy INT's

The Redskins held the first day of their three-day mandatory minicamp with temperatures hovering near 90 and under skies that looked threatening but stayed dry.

Here are my observations on defense and special teams.

—They started off with special teams like they have been doing since last year. Among those running out when the coaches called for the first team kickoff coverage unit were DaMon Cromartie-Smith, Jeron Johnson, Evan Spencer, Trey Wolfe, Duke Ihenacho, Trevardo Williams, Akeem Davis, Trenton Robinson, and Will Compton.

—With the second-team kickoff unit were Phillip Thomas, Matt Jones, Darrel Young, Justin Rogers, Tevin Mitchel, Ja’Gared Davis, Kyshoen Jarrett, and Martrell Spaight.

—I wouldn’t read too much into who is lining up where; at this point it seems that a lot of second- and third-team players are interchangeable so it likely is the same with special teams.

—It’s been pretty rainy in Ashburn lately, making the field soft. Some big chunks were torn out early in the proceedings (insert your own “feeling right at home”/FedEx Field joke here).

—Kirk Cousins threw a swing pass to full back Jordan Campbell. Linebacker Adam Hayward came running over late yelling, “Who the f*** was supposed to be covering the flat?” Evidently it wasn’t Hayward.

—Cornerback Tajh Hasson had two of the easier interceptions a DB can get. On one, a Cousins pass hit receiver Colin Lockett right in the hands. It bounced out and into the arms of Hassan. Later, on the last play of team drills, Colt McCoy threw to the sideline. Hassan was the only player with 8 yards of the pass and he got another pick.

—Among those on the first-team punting unit were Silas Redd, Adam Hayward, Trevardo Williams, Young, and Niles Paul.

—The coaches had the returners field punts while holding onto a second football with one arm. It’s not easy to do and it really makes the players focus.

—The only punt that I saw fumbled was a boomer by Tress Way. Rookie Trey Williams, who was not holding on to a ball with one arm, had it go through his hands.

—Tom Compton was matched up blocking Keenan Robinson on an outside run. Robinson apparently was not pleased with Compton’s technique. “You gonna hold me the whole time?” the linebacker yelled at the tackle.

—The final session of practice was field goal kicking. On the first attempt, Kai Forbath was wide left from about 35 yards.

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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

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Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle 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.