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Training Camp Notes: Day 5

A breakdown of the Redskins’ fifth day of training camp, including notes on Trent Williams’ injury and Tom Compton’s readiness, the battle to return punts, Nick Barnett’s workout and more.

BY ZAC BOYER

RICHMOND – Trent Williams dismissed the left wrist injury he sustained during the closing minutes of practice on Tuesday as “nothing to worry about,” but the Redskins have everything to worry about if Williams is going to miss any time.

Williams

The left tackle, selected to the Pro Bowl last season, injured the wrist when he fell awkwardly while blocking during a run play. If he has to miss any time, the team’s options are two players who haven’t taken a snap in the NFL – Tom Compton, a sixth-round draft pick last season, and Xavier Nixon, who went undrafted this past spring.

Washington’s depth on the offensive line suffered as a result of the team’s salary cap penalty, and it was able to bring in only two veterans – Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood – to compete for playing time. But Pashos and Trueblood haven’t worked at left tackle in years, each of them said in June, which would leave the left tackle position behind Williams solely in Compton’s and Nixon’s hands.

Compton, chosen out of South Dakota, has the speed and the quickness necessary to play left tackle, Mike Shanahan said Tuesday. The team likes his potential; he was given a significant pay raise midway through last season to stay on the Redskins’ practice squad, then was promoted to the 53-man roster for the final four games when he nearly accepted an offer to join another team.

“Now he gets a chance to feel comfortable with the offensive system,” Shanahan said. “He picks things up fairly quickly, I like what I’ve seen, and this preseason will be big for him. We’ll get a chance to see what he can do against other football teams, and we’ll put him in game-type situations as much as we can.”

Compton struggled a bit in one-on-one drills the last two days, first getting easily beat by defensive end Stephen Bowen on Monday before outside linebacker Brian Orakpo had his way with him on Tuesday.

The two players are among the best Compton would face at their respective positions, but he’ll have to be able to handle each of them if he hopes to protect Robert Griffin III’s blindside.

Either that, or Griffin will be doing a lot of scrambling should Williams miss any significant time this season.

Also…

* The decision to bring in Nick Barnett for a workout – and potentially sign him as soon as Wednesday – is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Redskins. Barnett, 32, was an outside linebacker during his last two seasons with the Bills, but he’d move to the inside in the Redskins’ 3-4 defensive scheme.

Buffalo released him in February because he failed a physical tied to a knee injury. With Keenan Robinson lost for a significant period of time because of a torn left pectoral, perhaps for the season, Barnett could replaced Roddrick Muckelroy as London Fletcher’s backup.

Barnett’s workout only lasted 10 minutes, but according to one report, the session was merely a formality. He had 112 tackles, including two sacks, and forced three fumbles last season.

* Chris Thompson did not participate in team drills for the second consecutive day because of concerns about inflammation in his left knee. The running back tore the ACL in the knee midway through last season, when he was at Florida State, and he was cleared to practice within the last month. “He just looked a little sluggish a couple of days ago,” Shanahan said. “We gave him yesterday off, and more preventive than anything, I thought we’d give him one more day. Hopefully he’s back tomorrow and feeling good.”

* The Redskins have a fascination with running the option with receivers, and they worked on this briefly in practice on Tuesday for reasons that don’t seem to make a lot of sense. Dezmon Briscoe took pitches from Pat White early in practice and was fortunate to get back to the line of scrimmage on his few attempts.

Receivers ran the ball 12 times for 67 yards last season, though that includes a 14-yard carry by Aldrick Robinson and a 12-yard run by Santana Moss. The decision to do so didn’t seem to be a depth issue with Thompson out and Tristan Davis having left the team earlier in the day. It doesn’t keep an opposing defense off balance when a player inexperienced with running the ball out of the backfield is asked to do so.

* Trueblood has been relegated to third-string duties behind Tyler Polumbus and Pashos over the first five days, and he looks wholly disinterested in practice. His performance in one-on-one drills, including against linebacker Brandon Jenkins, has been dreadful.

* Richard Crawford proved at the end of last season he can handle punt return duties, so it’s his job to lose in training camp. Moss and undrafted receivers Nick Williams and Skye Dawson have also returned punts during the first week of camp, but Moss is 34 and probably can’t handle the role full-time and the rookies are incredibly unlikely to make the team as a specialist. (That’s exactly the situation the Redskins are trying to avoid by not having Brandon Banks on the roster.)

As an aside, Crawford has rarely lined up as a slot corner during the first five days. E.J. Biggers has handled much of the inside duties. Crawford struggled in this role last season and said during offseason workouts he was focusing on the outside, but it’s still interesting that he hasn’t been given another look inside.

* With Brandon Meriweather out of team drills again, the Redskins used Jordan Pugh not only at free safety, but as the strong safety as well. He dropped two interceptions, including one in the end zone, before leaving practice with an unknown malady. The defensive coaching staff likes Pugh’s potential, and he played well in passing situations late last season, but he’ll have to squeeze into a spot with rookies Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo now on the roster.

* Griffin sprinted around the field at the start of practice, slapping hands with fans in the front row, and signed autographs for nearly 45 minutes afterward. This is obvious by now, but he gets it.

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