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Training Camp Notes: Day 1

Josh Wilson was placed on, and returned from, the physically-unable-to-perform list, Keenan Robinson was hurt again, Robert Griffin III practiced for the first time since surgery in January and more.

BY ZAC BOYER

RICHMOND – Josh Wilson was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list on Thursday afternoon just hours after the team made the decision to give him that designation.

Wilson

“I think I wanted to set the record for the shortest PUP stay,” Wilson said. “It’s a great record. I think my name should last a long time. But I wanted to get back out here. I had to prove that I was ready and I did what I had to do.”

Wilson is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, and the team’s medical staff thought it would be best if Wilson could demonstrate enough strength in the shoulder before clearing him for contact.

But Mike Shanahan said Wilson was able to do so Thursday afternoon during a workout following the team’s first walkthrough of training camp.

“After we got him in the weight room and he lifted, we decided to at least let him do individual work [in practice], and hopefully over the next few days, we feel good enough about his strength with some of these tests that he’ll be ready to go,” Shanahan said. “But he’s not far away.”

Also…

* Linebacker Keenan Robinson injured his left shoulder after falling awkwardly during team drills. Robinson was trying to thud off the ballcarrier when he got tangled up and fell, and he came up holding the shoulder. The team’s athletic training staff examined Robinson, and head athletic trainer Larry Hess walked with him from the tent next to the field into the facility after practice was over.

Robinson was scheduled to undergo an MRI, Shanahan said, but had no other updates at the end of practice. If there’s any substantive damage, it could be another tough break for Robinson, who was drafted in the fourth round last year but played in 11 games before tearing his right pectoral.

Some of the team’s coaches believe Robinson could be the long-term answer for London Fletcher, and he’s been Fletcher’s backup at mike linebacker since joining the team a year ago. He was a capable run stopper at Texas and is quick enough to drop into coverage, but he’s also impressed them with his knowledge and intelligence.

If he misses extended time, the Redskins’ options are limited. Bryan Kehl is somewhat of a swing linebacker who’s able to play both positions, but he’s been working as Perry Riley’s backup at jack linebacker. Roddrick Muckelroy filled in for Fletcher and Robinson during offseason workouts; he played in 19 games over three seasons with the Bengals before being picked up by Washington midway through last season.

* Robert Griffin III returned to practice for the first time in over six and a half months when he trotted onto the field amidst a rousing ovation from the Richmond crowd. The quarterback did very little during the morning walkthrough but worked for the better part of an hour during the full-speed afternoon practice.

When Griffin was throwing to other injured players during offseason workouts in May and June, he threw very delicately. His passes were mostly on target, which is a product of his arm strength, but he seemed to gingerly plant that right leg in the ground – almost like how he looked in the Redskins’ victory over the Eagles on Dec. 23, when he made his return after missing one game.

Thursday was different. Griffin looked much more fluid in his delivery, though there was still a noticeable lag from his pre-injury days. That should certainly be ironed out over time, and it could be more of a product of his layoff than his injury. He threw eight passes during a 7-on-7 drill, and the only one that wasn’t caught was a throw at Pierre Garçon’s knees that was slightly behind him.

One thing that looked strange: At times during the 7-on-7, Griffin would prance back on the balls of his feet rather than take a normal drop. Could that be injury related? Sure. Could that be also the sign of a quarterback having a lot of fun in his return to practice? Very much so.

* E.J. Biggers had an excellent first practice with his new team. The former Buccaneers cornerback broke up three passes during team drills, including two deep balls to Aldrick Robinson. He would seem to fit as a slot corner, but the need for second-round pick David Amerson to get on the field at some point may foil those plans. Biggers is long and rangy, and he doesn’t have exceptional speed, but that he could challenge Robinson showed he’s fundamentally sound.

* How big was the interest in the Redskins during their first day in Richmond? The team reported a combined attendance of roughly 10,100 for the two sessions, though it doesn’t take into account people who left and returned after the four-hour layoff. Still, the crowd was hot for the team practicing in its own backyard, with the sides of the field packed several rows deep. And, a temperature in the low-80s meant many people found it comfortable enough to stick around on-site between the two sessions.

* Shanahan said it was tough for the Redskins to have to waive Jordan Bernstine, who did not pass his physical after a gruesome knee injury in the season opener a year ago left him with a torn ACL, MCL and PCL, as well as damage to his menisci. Bernstine still had a while to go before he would be completely cleared for football-related activities, but Shanahan praised the safety’s determination and said he’d be open to bringing him back once he’s fully healed.

They replaced Bernstine and Devin Holland, who was also waived before training camp, with cornerback Ryan Mouton and safety Jose Gumbs. Mouton was a third-round pick by the Titans in 2009 and was their nickelback last season, when he had 44 tackles in 13 games. Gumbs, who appears to be more of a strong safety, went undrafted out of Monmouth last year and had brief stints with the Saints and Chiefs.

* Although he was cleared to practice, Fred Davis was much more limited in team drills than his fellow tight ends. Davis is coming off a torn left Achilles’ tendon, and it’s likely the team is just being precautionary with his return rather than rushing him back into practice for the first time since last October. He has nothing to prove.

* There were three interceptions in team drills, though none were particularly noteworthy. Bacarri Rambo, who often worked with the first team, intercepted Kirk Cousins on a play in which Cousins would have been sacked at least once and maybe twice. Ricky Elmore later intercepted Pat White on a throw over the middle probably intended for Elmore.

And in the final minutes of practice, Cousins didn’t see Kehl on his left and threw it right to the linebacker, who then took it back toward the goal line. Somehow, he was stripped of the ball, and Griffin, who by this point was long done with practice, ended up with it, trotting back to midfield with it tucked under his arm and a grin stretched across his face.

Yeah, he’s back.

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