Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes, quotes and observations from practice (Sat, a.m., 7/31)
What you should know from this morning’s practice:
*WR Malcolm Kelly (hamstring) did not participate in position or team drills. He worked out on the side instead.
“I plan on resting today and tomorrow, so then Monday I could go,” Kelly said. “I was running pretty much full speed today.”
Kelly participated in part of practice yesterday but felt a twinge in the muscle. He told trainers he didn’t think he could go full speed.
“Anytime you miss reps, you’re giving somebody an opportunity to win a position,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “Obviously it doesn’t help him, but there’s nothing he can do about it except get treatment three times a day and do what he can do to get back on the football field.
“As I told him, you’ve got to be smart. You just can’t go out there and all of a sudden set yourself back another two weeks. When it’s healthy, it’s healthy. I think he’ll know.”
Kelly can’t afford to be out too long. He already was passed on the depth chart by Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams in the offseason because of missed time due to leg injuries. There’s not much lower he can go and still keep a roster spot.
*K Graham Gano, the uncontested placekicker in training camp, made 19 of 20 field goals today. He made 16 of 17 from 37 yards and was perfect on three attempts from 40.
“The big thing today, I wanted the timing to be good with [long snapper] Nick [Sundberg] and [holder] Josh [Bidwell],” Gano said. “Today I think we got better.”
Gano, you’ll recall, finished last season with the Redskins after Shaun Suisham was released. He connected on all four of his field goals (long of 46) and made 6 of 7 extra points. His only miss yesterday (off the right upright) was the result of a high snap, Shanahan said.
“I was impressed by Graham,” Shanahan said. “He’s done a great job since I’ve been here.”
I’m a bit surprised that a kicker with only four games of regular season experience is going unopposed in training camp, but that’s a result of the offensive concerns the team has. When you need quality receivers so badly that you bring 11 to camp, other positions are going to be thin.
**Now, some plays and players that stood out during team drills. Please remember that this is just a snapshot of practice.
*Second-string QB Rex Grossman looked as good as I’ve seen him since he joined the Redskins. He doesn’t have a strong arm, but his timing today was very sharp. He hit WR Anthony Armstrong on a deep out that need to be right on time—and it was. He used nice touch to loft an intermediate pass over a defender and into WR Devin Thomas’ arms. For all of Grossman’s shortcomings, I don’t see at this point him being truly challenged for the backup job.
*We’re still waiting for WR Devin Thomas to stand out. He had a chance to flash early in 11-on-11 work when he got behind CBs Bryan Westbrook and Justin Tryon and S Lendy Holmes. QB Colt Brennan threw a deep ball that was probably a little overthrown. Thomas, though, seemed like he could snag it with one final adjustment, but he slipped slightly and the ball fell incomplete.
On the bright side, at least Thomas in on the field. That’s more than you can say for Malcolm Kelly.
*TE Chris Cooley was a main target for every quarterback, but he also dropped three passes. He was quite salty about it afterwards.
*CB DeAngelo Hall picked off QB Donovan McNabb and would have had a touchdown if the play had been allowed to continue. Hall did well to read the receiver’s route and undercut it.
*Speaking of the defense, Jim Haslett’s group worked on a number of different fronts and blitzes this morning. It was quite interesting to see. On one play, DL Vonnie Holliday was the only defender with his hand on the ground. LBs Brian Orakpo, Andre Carter and Lorenzo Alexander were in the box but standing. On another play, NT Anthony Bryant dropped into pass coverage.
The most effective blitzes seemed to be by the linebackers shooting gaps up the middle. On one play, London Fletcher burst through the ‘A’ gap (between center and guard) untouched and would have sacked Donovan McNabb if contact with quarterbacks were allowed. CB Kevin Barnes blitzed from the slot on one play and batted down a pass. Signs of how aggressive this defense is going to be are plentiful
*CB Carlos Rogers has been working as the slot corner some when CBs Phillip Buchanon and DeAngelo Hall play the outside. He stayed with TE Chris Cooley on one play, forcing the quarterback to throw elsewhere. Rogers’ strong physicality could really help him in that role. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.
*TE Fred Davis’ athleticism continues to stand out. On a quick slant from the left side of the formation, QB Rex Grossman threw a pass about knee high. Instead of just reaching down to grab it, Davis slid to both knees, caught it in the chest and popped up in one motion to get some yards after the catch. I see him building on what he accomplished last season.
*LT Trent Williams continues to look good. On one pass rush, ROLB Brian Orakpo tried to set Williams up with a fake to the outside before a quick cut back inside. Williams’ footwork was impeccable, and he slid in to stonewall Orakpo. Really good stuff from any player, much less a rookie. I’ll try to keep an eye on his run blocking for you.
*OL Will Montgomery is your backup long snapper. Stop the presses, I know.
*Second-year LB Robert Henson dropped two potential interceptions.
*Seventh-round pick LT Selvish Capers held his own when the defense overloaded his side and blitzed. He rode DE Jeremy Jarmon wide and, ultimately, into the ground.