RICHMOND, VA. -- I'll take a periodic look at each Washington Redskins rookie, what they're learning and what they still must learn, as the summer unfolds. First up: linebacker Trent Murphy, the second-round pick.

What he’s learning: Coverage and eye discipline. The coaches see the coverage aspect because it’s a part of an outside linebacker’s job in this scheme. Murphy dropped into coverage at Stanford, which also played a 3-4. But it’s a little different here. What the Redskins want to make sure of is that he can handle the tight ends if necessary because they likely won’t put him in too many situations where he’s asked to drop.

[+] EnlargeTrent Murphy
Alex Brandon/AP PhotoRookie LB Trent Murphy is 6-foot-6 but still can shoot through a hole like a more compact defender.
As for his eyes, Murphy pointed to this as the one thing he wants to improve. He knows where the eyes must be, but he’s still struggling to always look at those spots. The result? He’s seeing too much.

“When you’re seeing everything than what’s right in front of you, it gets blurred,” Murphy said.

He said the more they’re in camp the better he’ll get at this. But it’s an important part of his development. Lessen the information so you don’t get overloaded; look for one clue that reveals all.

“Sometimes you can look at the hip of a guy and from what his hip does, you can tell what everyone else on the field is doing,” Murphy said. “You don’t have to see them.”

Every day brings more lessons. In college, Murphy had a terrific spin move and he showed it in the spring as well. But he still has to learn how to use it against NFL talent. Even rookie Morgan Moses, who struggled with it in the spring, stopped it cold in a one-on-one drill on Sunday.

“As good as I’ve had it, the subtlest thing gives it away,” he said. “Or you try to run wider to set it up more. That triggers something in the linemen’s mind and then he sits on it. That’s where it’s just important to stay on your line.”

What stands out: His height. It's tough to miss a guy who’s nearly 6-foot-6. But he has a knack for playing lower than his height, which has come in handy (saw it against tackle Trent Williams where Murphy got low and shot inside against the run).

“He can play like he’s 5-11 when he has to,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said.

Murphy’s consistency helped him in college and that has been noticeable in camp, too, on his rushes. He stays on his intended path to the quarterback. Murphy might lack the burst of an elite rusher, but it’s the other parts of his game that give him a chance to be good in this role.

“A lot of it is first step and alignment on the guy across from you,” Murphy said, “and then staying on that angle no matter what. A lot of times guys let the offensive lineman or end or back dictate to them where the line is going to be. But you have to be disciplined to stay on your line no matter what.”

What needs to be seen: Whether he can generate legitimate pressure in the NFL. Of course, that won’t be known until the games begin. Murphy has beaten the backup linemen, but he’s still proving that he can do it against the starters. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares here in the preseason, especially as he gets more acclimated and disciplined with his eyes.

Current projection: He’ll be the No. 3 outside linebacker. Nothing will change that, unless one of the starters gets hurt and he has to move into the lineup. And there’s no one who is challenging him for the job Washington drafted him to do. Murphy also will help on special teams. They’ll use him all over, outside and, as a rusher, over the guard.

Redskins learn from RG III injury

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
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It was the slogan. It was the documentary. It was a coach who figured they could ease him back in. It was a doctor calling him superhuman. It also was a group that overlooked the obvious: When it comes to playing quarterback in the NFL, especially for a young guy, there’s no substitute for repetitions. That’s where Bruce Allen, in essence, said the Washington Redskins organization erred last summer when it came to Robert Griffin III.

Griffin
Allen told ESPN 950 radio Monday that having Griffin play after only a couple weeks of practice was “disrespectful to football.”

That's easy to say now. While his return was heavily debated, it wasn’t as if behind the scenes many in the organization were saying Griffin should wait a few more weeks.

His knee was ready and cleared by Dr. James Andrews. His game? Another matter. Griffin did not look sharp in the throwing sessions the media could watch. But at the time, you figured it was natural rust and would be shed soon. Griffin, after all, was an athlete on a different level.

Ah, but playing quarterback is about more. It’s safe to say Griffin could have used a few more weeks of nurturing his game before returning. The problem at the time was this: The Redskins were entering the regular season, and he didn’t have time to continue rebuilding his game. Coaches often say young quarterbacks grow more during the offseason between their first and second seasons. Griffin didn’t have that. It took him a while to gain any sort of consistency and rhythm. A big play or game would be followed by erratic play; it never really changed.

There’s no doubt coach Mike Shanahan felt as if he had no choice but to insert Griffin. Allen never mentioned him, but Shanahan had the ultimate authority. There was so much hype surrounding Griffin's desire to return, which left the coach wondering how it would be perceived if he didn’t start him. Shanahan had the utmost confidence in Kirk Cousins -- but Cousins sprained his foot and missed two weeks, not returning until right before the opener.

Shanahan could have made a decision, just like he could have made one during the 2012 playoff loss and not used Griffin. A coach with two Super Bowl rings has that authority. Shanahan failed to make it; no one from the organization publicly disagreed with the move either.

It’s funny, though, because life is different for Griffin with Jay Gruden. It’s almost as if the Redskins are trying the George Costanza approach: Whatever was done in the past, do the opposite. Gruden is more player-friendly and certainly more compatible with Griffin. They are trying to decrease the importance of his legs (the Shanahans incorporated them in part to ease the transition to the NFL), at least on designed runs; when he has run in camp, it’s been off scrambles. If any situations arise with Griffin when it comes to injuries, my guess is they will take a different approach there too.

Gruden knows what went wrong here in the past. But it wasn’t just one or two people who learned a lesson when it came to handling Griffin’s injury. It was an organization. More than one person shared in this responsibility. If they learned from it, then Griffin and the team can move forward with confidence.
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Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless discuss the comments made by Redskins WR DeSean Jackson that Washington fans aren't negative like Philadelphia fans, who boo their own team.

GM: RG III played before ready

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
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RICHMOND, Va. -- Washington Redskins vice president and general manager Bruce Allen said quarterback Robert Griffin III should not have opened the season as the starter a year ago, not because his knee wasn't ready but rather because of his game.

Allen, speaking on ESPN 950 radio Monday, said Griffin, coming off knee surgery to repair multiple ligaments, did not have enough practice time to get ready for an NFL season. Though doctors cleared him to resume practicing, then-coach Mike Shanahan said Dr. James Andrews told him he should not play in any preseason games.

Griffin eased his way back into the lineup, working alone and off to the side during practices while wearing a brace on his right knee. He started taking first-team snaps in mid-August, near the end of training camp. By then, with preseason games underway, the Redskins' work weeks were interrupted by exhibition games. That limited his number of practices.

"What you saw last year was almost a little disrespectful to the game of football," Allen said. "It's impossible to ask a player to perform well during the regular season if you haven't practiced.

"Last year at this time, he was still rehabbing his knee, and he wasn't allowed to practice or work in team drills. We put him on the spot by trying to do that. And this year he's had a full offseason, his knee is 100 percent, knock on wood, and he's had all [the practices], and that's how you get ready to play a football season."

Griffin was coming off a magical first season when he helped the Redskins win their first NFC East title since 1999, but late in the season he injured his lateral collateral ligament during a December win over Baltimore, missed a week and then tore his ACL and MCL in a playoff loss to Seattle.


(Read full post)


RICHMOND, VA. -- The starting job isn’t up for grabs, which is wise considering that player is a guy who has rushed for nearly 3,000 yards in his first two seasons combined. But Alfred Morris can’t do everything and even though the Redskins want him to catch more passes, they also want more help on third downs -- someone who is capable of stinging defenses with long runs.

“We need another back to emerge as that third-down back,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.

Here’s how they’ve looked thus far:

Helu
 Roy Helu: He’s more than just a third-down guy because he can handle the every-down work should something happen to Morris. The only other back who could say the same thing right now is Evan Royster and he’s in a big fight to win a roster spot. But Helu offers the size -- and experience -- that the other contenders do not. He’s looked fine in camp, but it’s hard for running backs to really stand out because you can’t see their impact on defenders in terms of making them miss. But Helu catches the ball well and knows the run game. Smaller, shiftier backs would do well when the Redskins go to their spread, but Helu will help.

Chris Thompson: He’s the one who has emerged to this point (long way to go folks) because it’s clear he’s feeling more comfortable. He's also faster, one year further removed from his torn ACL in college. He’s resembled the runner he was in college more than he ever did last summer. For the most part, Thompson has caught the ball well and did a solid job in the pass protection drills Monday, a day after he was disappointed in his showing. If Thompson proves he can stay durable in camp -- it’s a huge issue for him -- he’ll stay productive. He’s taken snaps with the first offense in nickel situations this week.

 Lache Seastrunk: Still learning and it shows. He’s dropped a few passes (a knock on him in college despite not having a big role in the pass game) and his protection has been inconsistent. The latter is to be expected; most young backs entering the NFL have issues in this area, and it’s why the Redskins felt he would need time to develop. Seastrunk’s speed is impressive, but it’s hard to say we’ve seen what he can do in that area. I’m curious to see him in a game. At times, I’ve seen him make a guy miss with a quick cut, but it's been nothing like his college tape. He’s behind Thompson at this point. The question is, how many backs will they keep?

Royster
Royster
 Evan Royster: Not the dynamic back the Redskins want as the third-down guy. Royster still couldn’t practice Monday afternoon because of a hamstring issue. He’s good insurance, but if they’re looking for a “Darren Sproles type” as Robert Griffin III called Thompson the other day, then Royster is in trouble. He could be a backup somewhere, but he’s part of a crowded backfield right now. Not sure what he does that will separate him from the crowd, given that his strength is as a move-the-chains runner, and they have a better one in Morris. He does not catch the ball or handle the third-down duties better than Helu, and he's not a home-run threat like, potentially, Thompson or Seastrunk. Royster is insurance, and there's always one back who seems to have injury issues in camp so you keep him around just in case.

Silas Redd: He’s flashed his talents on occasion, enough to want to see him in games. But, again, you can’t go overboard at all when watching the backs. You need to see them against live tacklers to see the extra yards they create. Morris, for example, showed it again the other day when he lowered his shoulder into a tackler (getting lower than the defender) and drove forward for a few more yards. Those yards add up. Redd needs work in protection; he had his head too low on one block and allowed the linebacker to run through him on another.

Redskins wake-up call

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
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RICHMOND, VA. -- The Redskins will not practice Tuesday, with coach Jay Gruden having given them the day off (as required according to the CBA).

So do not look for any practice or camp reports Tuesday, but there will be other stories, including a Rookie Report on linebacker Trent Murphy later today. He talks about the little aspects he's learning about the position. Good stuff.

Meanwhile, the Redskins will return to practice with two workouts Wednesday: the full practice at 8:35 a.m. ET and a walk-through at 4:15 p.m. They'll practice through Fan Appreciation Day Saturday morning and then take another day off Sunday.

Redskins Camp Report: Day 5

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
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RICHMOND, Va. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Washington Redskins training camp:
  • The Redskins needed to be a more physical team overall after finishing last in three of the last four years. They need a mindset and an identity, something I don’t think they always had under Mike Shanahan. I’ve seen it under other coaches: Marty Schottenheimer and Joe Gibbs’ teams in particular. They were tough and hard-nosed. To play that way you need players who fit that description. One way to weed them out is to have more physical practices, something the Redskins are doing – especially Monday. Coach Jay Gruden wants a tough-minded team and days like this helps mold that identity.
  • One of the funny sights occurred because of the physical nature of practice. But it involved two players whose dads went at it back in the day (competing, not fighting): receiver Jerry Rice, Jr. and corner Chase Minnifield. Easy to tell who is Rice’s dad; Minnifield’s father, Frank, played for the Cleveland Browns and against Rice on occasion. Anyway, Rice and Minnifield had a brief scuffle after one play. It was noteworthy because of their last names. Receiver Andre Roberts had a bigger near-fight with corner Peyton Thompson after they engaged on a run play. Roberts’ helmet came off and, yes, he threw a punch. But they were quickly separated. Receiver DeSean Jackson and quarterback Robert Griffin III went and talked to Thompson for a couple seconds afterward.
  • Receiver Pierre Garcon had soreness in his hamstring and didn’t participate in most of practice. It did not sound serious and he stayed on the field with his pads on and walked fine to the locker room after practice. Undrafted free-agent corner Courtney Bridget injured his right shoulder and Gruden said he will undergo an MRI.
  • The Redskins will switch rookie Morgan Moses to the right side next week after having him work on the left side. He initially practiced at right tackle in the spring, but was not as comfortable as he was on the left side (he played both spots in college). Moses has to learn how to play lower and use better angles and move his feet. But how he handles the backup role could determine Tom Compton’s fate. He’s been working as the primary backup at right tackle in camp. But if Moses shows he can handle life as the main backup, then Compton would have a harder time making the roster (teams don’t always keep four tackles).
  • Have I told you lately how much I enjoy watching outside linebackers coach Brian Baker conduct a drill session? He focuses hard on the details and it doesn’t matter if you’re a starter or not; if you mess up you do it again. I’ve seen him praise the no-names and make guys such as Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy do a second rep because the first wasn’t good enough. He chastised both players Monday, first having Murphy do a second rep after not getting low enough after shedding the blocker. He had Kerrigan go a second time on a drill in which Baker wanted him to be “low and tight.” The goal was to turn the corner against one dummy, then touch the bottom of another dummy, simulating a pass-rush angle. Kerrigan did it right the next time.

RG III report: Strong finish

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
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RICHMOND, Va. -- With the speed the Washington Redskins have at receiver, if defenses don’t get home on the blitz, the Redskins will be in position for some big plays on short passes. We saw that the other day when quarterback Robert Griffin III hit Andre Roberts on a short pass over the middle with two defenders blitzing on the left side.

Griffin
Another reminder was provided Monday when Griffin connected with DeSean Jackson on a shallow route versus a blitz. The play would have resulted in a good chunk of yardage. It makes me wonder how often teams will blitz knowing the speed Washington has at receiver -- if they don’t get to Griffin.

The key for Griffin will be reading the blitz and being decisive with his throw. The Redskins’ defense has helped him by giving him multiple looks and using a variety of blitzes.

Another time, Jackson and Griffin hooked up on a route in which the quarterback pumped the ball on an outside route and then came back inside to Jackson. That pump bought Jackson enough time to separate in the slot -- he was a forgotten man because of the pump -- and also provided him room to run afterward.

Later, Griffin and Jackson connected again at the goal line. Jackson was covered by Richard Crawford, so Griffin was patient, let Jackson win the route and made the throw.

But Jackson might have been drilled on another pass these two combined on, a deep play-action throw. Griffin lofted a pass over the top of corner DeAngelo Hall to Jackson -- a good throw. Safety Ryan Clark was racing over and, had it been a game, it would have been interesting to see the potential collision. Jackson did spot him as soon as he caught the ball and avoided him. But Clark also pulled off.

For the most part, Griffin was sharp Monday. He did take off running once, when the defense was in man and the middle of the field opened. Griffin was unable to connect on his fade routes. Even when we’ve see him throw this pass in the past he was inconsistent. Monday, he threw one to rookie Ryan Grant, a guy he hasn’t thrown a whole lot with.

But after the first five days of camp, Griffin has ended on an upswing. Really, he’s had one bad day (during the first day rain). Since then, he’s been solid with an occasional tough throw. Last summer he was much more erratic.

Redskins Monday practice report

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
4:15
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RICHMOND, Va. -- Some notes from Monday's Washington Redskins training camp practice.

For the first time in a long time, we saw actual live hitting in practice with one-on-one drills between a ball carrier and a defender and in a game-like setting between the backup units. It started with drills in which the defender was stationed about 10-15 yards from the runner, who had to stay within a somewhat narrow area -- though they had room to make a cut and make the defender miss.

It was also clear they wanted to see the young guys hit, so a lot of the starters while being more physical did not take part in some of the drills. Some of the highlights: receiver Rashad Lawrence gave Trent Murphy the slip with a cut to the right; linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough showed perfect form while tackling Jerry Rice, Jr.; linebacker Gabe Miller's helmet popped off when he hit tight end Ted Bolser and safety Ross Madison's helmet did the same in a collision with Cody Hoffman. At the end, left tackle Trent Williams was asking for a chance to run the ball. He was denied.

There were some scrapes in practice; I'll have more in my camp report later in the day.

Outside linebacker coach Brian Baker's message today: Use your hips. They worked on how to disengage while coming around the edge (with one of the other linebackers serving as the de facto tackle). If the rusher has his inside arm up and engaged, he's supposed to bring it down hard, allowing him to get more strength from his hips and, he said, it allows the linebackers to use the tackle's momentum against him. Baker told his troops, “Speed and hips; that's how you get to the quarterback!” He worked on this with Brian Orakpo a few times and it seemed to resonate.

Later, in another drill designed to shock the blocker and then shed him, Baker chastised Murphy for not dropping his hips and therefore playing too high. Next time: Murphy was much lower. Another time, in the disengage drill, Rob Jackson tried a spin move back to the inside. It was fine. He then tried a swim move to the inside. Baker loved it: “As much as I said the spin is OK, for you that's 100 percent better. That's what you want.”

I also loved the pass protection drill with the running backs and tight ends against the linebackers. I won't bore you with all of it, but running back Chris Thompson did a good job, first taking care of Brandon Meriweather and riding him out and later popping linebacker Will Compton, prompting running backs coach Randy Jordan to excitedly push him in the chest. Just a nice job by Thompson.

Rookie Lache Seastrunk allowed an inside spin by Ryan Clark, who then slipped. Seastrunk was slow to react to the move. Silas Redd was run through by linebacker Perry Riley. Running back Alfred Morris was solid on his attempts, including against linebacker Akeem Jordan. Jordan got into Morris, but he anchored and held his ground.

Seastrunk later dropped a pass from Kirk Cousins over the middle. And, in 11-on-11 work he allowed Brown to get inside on a pass rush; appeared to sit back too much and let Brown dictate too much. A couple plays earlier Seastrunk had done a better job against Brown.

Rookie tackle Morgan Moses had a nice block on a Redd run in 11-on-11 work, getting to the second level for a pop on Compton. Better balance by Moses. The linebacker did have a nice form tackle on receiver Rashad Lawrence on a pass over the middle.

Left guard Shawn Lauvao cleared a hole for Alfred Morris on a run at the 5-yard line, moving Jarvis Jenkins out of the way for a touchdown. Lauvao anchored well against Jenkins on their next play, though Brandon Meriweather blew up the play with a tackle in the backfield on Roy Helu.

Lauvao showed good feet in sliding with Barry Cofield to the outside, stopping a rush.

My guy Adrian Robinson showed some speed to the outside in beating Moses on a rush. Moses ended up lunging and missing.

Rookie corner Bashaud Breeland needs to learn how to harness his aggressiveness – not in attacking the offense, but in what he's reading. He got caught a little inside on one pass in which it looked like the play was going the other way, but in reality it came back to his side to Santana Moss. He just needed to slow down and not lose his side.

This is when Darrel Young is dangerous: On play-action throws inside the 10-yard line. The Redskins tried that Monday and linebacker Brian Orakpo, playing on the left side, had to stay home. Young snuck out of the backfield for an easy catch-and-score (similar to plays they ran a couple years ago). This is where the dual run threat of Griffin and Morris comes in handy for Young.

I liked how corner David Amerson covered Monday and once on Jackson in particular in the end zone. Amerson cut inside with Jackson, then quickly cut back to the outside with him and had him blanketed.

Maurice Hurt was back at right tackle Monday. Hurt said he was dehydrated and cramped up during last week's conditioning run, which is why he didn't finish. He looked fine against newcomer Everrette Brown this morning.

Rookie Zach Hocker missed his first field goal attempt of the summer, sending a 43-yarder wide right. He also had his next attempt tipped by 6-foot-8 Clifton Geathers. Hocker connected on his only other kick, this one from 38 yards. Kai Forbath connected on his three attempts, from 38, 43 and 48 yards. Both have now missed one kick apiece. Also, they switched holders today with Blake Clingan working with Forbath and Robert Malone with Hocker.

Redskins enjoy physical practice

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
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RICHMOND, Va. – The intensity increased Monday, along with the number of shoves and near scrapes. It’s exactly what the players wanted. It also might be a long time before it happens again, at least during practice.

Once a staple of training camps, the days of live hitting have diminished in the new age of the NFL thanks to the 2011 CBA when teams are limited to one practice a day in camp and one walk-through rather than two-a-days.

[+] EnlargeWashington Redskins
AP Photo/Alex BrandonRashad Ross, bottom, and Akeem Davis participated in an intense Redskins practice on Monday.
And Redskins coach Jay Gruden said this might be the last time the Redskins do live-tackling drills until next season. They’ll practice against the New England Patriots next week and then will get their live-tackling drills, in essence, done in the preseason games.

But, for now, it served as a good change of pace and as something different than under previous coach Mike Shanahan. He opted for the old San Francisco way under Bill Walsh where full contact was not welcomed.

Regardless, the players enjoyed it, perhaps helped by knowing they had Tuesday off. They ran a one-on-one drill with a ball-carrier and a defender stationed 10-15 yards away. They had a live tackling session featuring the backups against one another. There were several near scuffles thanks to the extra contact. Once, linebacker Adam Hayward yelled at fullback Stephen Campbell after the latter drove someone to the ground in a return drill.

“We don’t do that [expletive],” Hayward said as receiver DeSean Jackson shouted back at him.

“The intensity level is picking up,” tight end Niles Paul said. “Things got intense today. That’s the type of thing we want to have, an aggressive team that doesn’t back down.”

“So much fun,” fullback Darrel Young said. “Man, you got the defense that says they make plays. But we got pads on, make the tackle. Everything got competitive today. That’s what you like in your team. I had fun out there. Guys tackling, guys hitting. That’s football. That’s what we needed."

After last season the Redskins had entered training camp with that so-called chip on their shoulder. Apparently they spent Monday trying to knock it off one another. A team coming off a 3-13 season needs to play that way more often.

“Yeah, you play with a chip on your shoulder,” defensive end Chris Baker said. “We know how quickly things can go bad when you don’t take care of the small things. We’re trying to take care of the small things in practice. ... A couple of fights broke out, but that’s what happens when it’s live competition.”

Redskins sign LB Everette Brown

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
12:45
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RICHMOND, VA. -- Everette Brown was relaxing outside his Tropical Smoothie Café in Charlotte, North Carolina, when the call came. Though his agent was talking to teams, Brown did not expect anything to happen.

"When I got the call I was totally off guard," Brown said.

The Washington Redskins signed Brown on Monday morning, filling the roster spot vacated when they released Brandon Jenkins the previous day. Brown will be used as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.

It's yet another chance for Brown to stick on a roster, which has been difficult throughout his career. Brown played seven games last season for Dallas but did not play for anyone in 2012. Brown spent three games with San Diego in 2012 and a combined 28 games with Carolina in '09 and '10.

Brown practiced with the Redskins on Monday, being used in full-team work as a left outside linebacker. It'll be tough for him to win a job with veteran Rob Jackson and youngsters Adrian Robinson and Gabe Miller ahead of him. The latter two in particular have had solid camps, and Jackson has shown in the past that he can help.

Chris Thompson feels fast again

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
10:15
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RICHMOND, Va. -- The one trait Washington Redskins Chris Thompson couldn't show last summer is the one trait that made him dangerous. He'd watch a run in practice on film and know he could have hit it faster. Or burst through quicker. Or finish better.

Occasionally he'll say the same thing now, but there's a difference. When it happens now, it's not because he's wondering if he's as fast or as quick as he used to be.

“I'm not questioning my explosiveness and speed anymore,” Thompson said. “I feel good, actually.”

[+] EnlargeChris Thompson
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports"I'm starting to feel that speed now and it feels good," Redskins RB Chris Thompson said.
It's been evident in practice that Thompson feels better. He's shown more flash than he did last summer when he earned a roster spot as a rookie. Judging a running back early in camp is dangerous because, with no live tackling, it's impossible to measure how many defenders he makes miss. So a back will squirt through the middle, break free and hear the crowd cheer. The reality: It's tough to know if he'd have been tackled after 2 yards or 20.

But for Thompson it's a good sign that he looks faster. The coaches like the second-year back -- and even though Jay Gruden did not draft him, he was high on Thompson before the 2013 draft while with Cincinnati.

Still, the Redskins drafted a sixth-round back in Lache Seastrunk and already have Alfred Morris and Roy Helu. Evan Royster provides veteran insurance too.

The numbers game doesn't matter yet, however. What matters for Thompson is that his speed has returned.

“I'm over a year from the ACL and it usually takes a year once you start feeling good,” he said, “and I'm starting to feel that speed now and it feels good.”

Coaches have noticed.

“He's got the speed, he's got the hands,” Gruden said. “He's got the quickness. He's got everything you're looking for. We've just got to make sure he stays healthy.”

Yes, staying healthy is the big key for Thompson. He's listed at 5-foot-8, 193 pounds so durability concerns always will surround him. Add in the torn ACL preceded by two broken vertebrae in his back the previous season. Last year, Thompson ended up on injured reserve with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

“I've just got to stay healthy,” Thompson said.

If he does, Thompson could be a nice fit in the Redskins' offense as a part-time back in the spread formation with his shiftiness through the hole. But he also has to prove he can help in pass protection, an area even he admits he needs more consistency. He did not have his best day in this area during Sunday's practice.

But his game starts with his quickness and speed.

“It's good that I can still show the coaches that I have that step,” Thompson said.

The next step is proving it in the preseason games.
Examining the Washington Redskins' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)

Jay Gruden only had two quarterbacks in each of his three seasons with Cincinnati, but Griffin still needs to prove his durability. So nothing has changed since the original posting. If something happened to Griffin, they would still be in good shape with Cousins and McCoy. If they go with two then McCoy gets left off.

Running backs (4)

It's really hard to tell with running backs until the games begin. But, thus far, Chris Thompson has been more impressive than Lache Seastrunk -- though the latter has different speed and flashy moves. I do have a hard time seeing Seastrunk end up being cut so there's a good chance they keep five backs. If Seastrunk has a quiet preseason then they could stash him on the practice squad. Also, Thompson must prove his durability. In the end that will be the deciding factor. Thompson's ability to catch is better at this point, but his pass protection skills are questionable. Seastrunk has to grow here. By keeping four here, the Redskins can go with an extra player at another spot. This means Evan Royster is on the outs, but he doesn’t give the Redskins anything they don’t have in better players. He is insurance only.

Receivers (6)

I still don't think Leonard Hankerson will be ready to start the season on the active roster. I wonder about Robinson, but not the others. While some undrafted free agents have looked good in practice, I learned long ago not to go overboard until you see them in games. Robinson has had a quiet camp in too many regards.

Tight ends (3)

Rookie tight end Ted Bolser had a good day Saturday, or at least a good couple of plays. He looks better than in the spring, which is a good sign. He's still learning the details of blocking, etc., and it could be hard to keep four tight ends this year. Bolser is a good candidate for the practice squad.

Offensive line (10)

In reality, I could see them keeping only nine offensive linemen. At this point it's hard to know which one would be cut. They're not cutting the rookies of course. And LeRibeus looks much better than last summer (working at both guard spots). Compton is a little surprise, but they like him as well and he's looked solid for the most part. I also would be concerned if they needed a backup tackle; not sold that Moses would be ready.

Defensive line (6)

This one is fluid as well because it depends in part on Bowen’s health. I like Chris Neild and so do they, but can they keep him? Golston is more versatile and a key player on special teams, but he’s also 30 and they must get younger at some point. But he still helps in too many ways. Clifton Geathers and Neild will factor in here.

Linebackers (9)

I wasn't going to include Brandon Jenkins this week (easy to say, right?) because he did not take any step up from the spring. Just frustrated the coaches too much. For now I'm going with Jackson, but I don't think that's a lock by any means. Adrian Robinson is one to watch here. The tough call is inside. They really like Will Compton and I think he somehow finds his way onto the roster. But this needs to develop. I think there will be an interesting decision made inside.

Cornerbacks (5)
Chase Minnifield remains eligible for the practice squad and has looked solid in camp. Richard Crawford is coming off a knee injury and needs time to get his game back. The one benefit for Crawford is that he can play in the slot; they need depth at that spot. Breeland has worked there as well however.

Safeties (4)

I did not include Rambo on the original list, but did so now. Why? I haven't seen Trenton Robinson do anything and for now Rambo is working with the second defense. Therefore, I'm going with him for now. Akeem Davis still looks like a practice squader.

Specialists (3)

The Forbath selection is based on never having seen rookie Zach Hocker kick in an NFL game. That's what I said in the original post and nothing has changed. If Hocker is consistent this summer and shows a strong leg, then he can win the job. Thus far he's looked good.
RICHMOND, VA. -- Practice at 8:35 a.m. The afternoon walk-through was cancelled. The forecast calls for temperatures near 90 and, more importantly, no rain. Here are three areas to monitor:
  1. Jay Gruden said the Redskins will be in full pads, including their pants, and there will be live drills -- which means extra hitting. To this point they only had to be in shorts and shoulder pads, but some players (starting with safety Ryan Clark) wore their pants. Why? Because that’s what you do in a game. Sunday, all but two defensive starters wore the pants. Anyway, they’ll be in full pads and there will be more intensity (no Oklahoma Drill, though). It’s been a while since we’ve seen that in Washington. Which way works? Bill Walsh used to do it the same as Mike Shanahan, so you can make it work with any way.
  2. Receiver Pierre Garcon has had a quiet camp. That’s not to say a bad one, but we’ve been used to seeing him more involved the past two summers. I want to watch him a little more just to get a stronger feel for what’s going on. It’s not as if he never gets opportunities. He does. And perhaps it’s because he’s not the flashy new toy like DeSean Jackson or Andre Roberts and is therefore not noticed as much.
  3. The Redskins did some pass-protection drills Sunday, but it was at the same time as some other drills that I had to watch. But I’m hoping they do them again Monday. Running back Chris Thompson admitted he still needs to improve in protection. I want to see rookie Lache Seastrunk as well in this area. There are so many things to learn when it comes to protection. It helps when the protector understands not only to read the defense, but to read the blitzer and to know how they rush. Do they keep their heads up upon contact? Are they violent?

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