Training Camp Notes: Day 6
A breakdown of the Redskins’ sixth day of training camp, including notes on Robert Griffin III’s decision to run while practicing in the rain, Josh Wilson, Kedric Golston and more.
BY ZAC BOYER
RICHMOND – Of all the snaps Robert Griffin III took during 7-on-7 drills in practice on Wednesday, it was the throw that he didn’t make that was worth the most attention.
The Redskins set up the passing drill at the 20-yard line, and Griffin took 15 snaps over four different “possessions” with the offense. On the final snap of the second series, Griffin read the defense, looked for the open receiver, failed to find one and took off running, first pulling the ball in to run along the line of scrimmage before heading toward the end zone.
It was a normal instinct for Griffin to run, and it wasn’t the first time he’s done so in such drills. He did it on Saturday when, to the delight of the crowd, he took off and made an awkward slide when he would have otherwise been hit.
The heavy rain and the wet field made this time different. That Griffin was practicing in the rain just nine days after being cleared to return to football-related activities was a curious decision. It was one thing to have him throw in the pass skeleton, or for running backs and tight ends as he did earlier in the day. It was another to put him into a simulated situation in which he was being evaluated.
Mike Shanahan held several players out of practice to give them rest. Three of them – safety Brandon Meriweather, running back Chris Thompson and tight end Jordan Reed – are coming off leg injuries that would make a wet field a danger to their health.
Oddly, so was Griffin. Shanahan wasn’t directly asked about the decision to allow Griffin to practice in the rain Wednesday, or the quarterback’s decision to run for nearly 10 yards before nearly being hit by linebacker Bryan Kehl and defensive end Kedric Golston.
But the head coach said he enjoyed that it rained during the practice because players have to learn to handle themselves in the rain.
“When you do have a guy like Robert, or a number of people that have ACL injuries or serious injuries, they’ve got to be a little more careful,” Shanahan said. “They’ve got to slow down their stride. But that’s one of the reasons why Robert is not in a team situation, where he’s got to take off very quickly because that could obviously hurt somebody.”
Especially on a wet field.
* The list of players who were given days off is long. Linebacker London Fletcher (rest), left tackle Trent Williams (left wrist), receiver Donté Stallworth (hamstring), receiver Pierre Garçon (rest, shoulder and toe), cornerback DeAngelo Hall (right ankle), fullback Darrel Young (left knee), linebacker Brian Orakpo (rest), right guard Adam Gettis (hamstring) and linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough (hamstring), as well as Meriweather, Thompson and Reed, were all held out of some portion of practice.
Forecasts call for more rain on Thursday, and Shanahan said that the team has an indoor location lined up where it could go through a glorified walkthrough if the situation dictates. Wednesday was the first time in 12 practices or walkthroughs that inclement weather has been a factor.
* Given the rain, it’s hard to read a lot into the performances of the quarterbacks, the receivers or the defensive backs. Griffin, in particular, had his worst day of training camp in 7-on-7s, completing just seven of his 14 passes with an interception – a ball that bounced off tight end Niles Paul’s hands and into those of cornerback Josh Wilson. Cornerback Richard Crawford may have also intercepted a pass to Aldrick Robinson on a go route along the left sideline, but the two players tried to make a play on the ball and it was unclear whether Crawford actually intercepted it.
* Golston continues to line up at left defensive end, getting some extended time with the first-team defense on Wednesday. With Adam Carriker out indefinitely and Jarvis Jenkins suspended for the first four games, it appears the job was converted nose tackle Chris Baker’s to lose. But Golston, a proven veteran who started 13 games three years ago, could wrestle the spot away from Baker should he prove he cannot handle it. Nothing has demonstrated so far that he can’t, so it’s likely the team is just preparing Golston, who has worked extensively on the right side in the last three years, for the switch to the left.
* With Williams out because of the wrist injury – one he greatly downplayed after the practice session – Tom Compton was thrust into the role as the first-string left tackle. Compton, a sixth-round pick out of South Dakota last year, didn’t make any outrageous mistakes, and he was much better as a run blocker than in pass protection. It was his first sustained action of training camp facing the first-team defense, and he’ll improve over time.
He successfully held off Rob Jackson, replacing Orakpo, on one play, and then two plays later contained Golston, working on the right side with the second team, for more than four seconds. Jackson later got the best of him – Compton was beaten from the first step and held Jackson by his collar – but there was nothing that made it seem Compton was out of place.
* Wilson was badly beaten twice in one-on-ones early in practice, and both plays were against undrafted receivers. Lance Lewis and Nick Williams each burst off the line of scrimmage past Wilson and ran a go route down the left sideline, catching the ball mid-stride.
* E.J. Biggers continues to work in as the third cornerback, but on one series late in practice, he played the role of the left cornerback while rookie David Amerson was on the right and Wilson covered the slot. Biggers and Crawford, for now, are battling for time as the slot corner, but that role could ultimately go to Hall or Wilson with Amerson taking over outside once the two starters are completely healthy.
Biggers has practiced well in training camp – he and Robinson seem to always get the best of each other – but on Wednesday, it was Santana Moss who got the best of him. Moss, at 34, can still run crisp routes and he’s plenty reliable. He turned Biggers around with a double move early in one-on-ones, causing the cornerback to punch the air in frustration when the play was over.