Training Camp Notes: Day 10
A breakdown of the Redskins’ 10th day of training camp, including notes on DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Meriweather returning to team drills, Robert Griffin III’s desire to practice and more.
BY ZAC BOYER
RICHMOND – The return of DeAngelo Hall from a sprained right ankle and Brandon Meriweather from inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee on Monday marked the first time the Redskins’ entire first-string defense has taken snaps together in pads in all of training camp.
It was a good sign for the unit, which struggled last season with a porous secondary and the loss of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who was arguably their best pass rusher. Adam Carriker, who tore the quadriceps tendon in his right knee early last season, is not yet fully healthy after undergoing a third surgery late last month and may not be able to play this year.
Meriweather said he was expecting to play only a handful of snaps during team drills, but he filled in for nearly the entirety of the practice. Hall was hoping to test how playing instinctively, and not with controlled movements, affected the ankle.
“It was pretty hard, you know, but my pain tolerance is pretty high,” Hall said. “I was able to push through it. I don’t like to take pain meds because I want to feel exactly where I am. I don’t want to try to coat the pain. I want an accurate description of what my pain level is and what I can tolerate and you know, come game time, when I need to do something, I need to do it.”
Rookie Bacarri Rambo started alongside Meriweather, while Josh Wilson assumed his role opposite Hall at cornerback. Wilson had two interceptions during team drills, including one on a ball Leonard Hankerson couldn’t handle early and one that brought a sudden stop on a one-minute drill at the end.
* Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan have finally gotten past their spat about whose responsibility it was to pull Griffin from the playoff game when he was hurt, and now they could find themselves embroiled in a pithy back-and-forth about Griffin’s training camp repetitions.
Shanahan made it clear to the quarterback when training camp opened that he would be eased in to practice because of concerns about Griffin’s long-term health. Griffin, for his part, seemed willing to go along with that plan early because he was merely overjoyed to be on the practice field, but now he is yearning for additional reps because he believes he’s ready.
Perhaps time will diffuse this situation – after all, it appears likely Griffin will be partaking in team drills, at least to some extent, when the Redskins return home from their preseason opener against the Titans. That means that Griffin is basically upset that, for two or three days, he’ll be limited to 7-on-7 drills.
The quarterback has a good point in that he can’t accomplish much more without seeing a full defense and reacting instinctively to a pass rush or any other danger he faces. But after the team’s medical staff gave Griffin full clearance to return to football-related activities, only Shanahan has the power to limit what it is he does in practice.
Griffin need only look at the cases of Meriweather and rookie Chris Thompson, each of whom are coming off of surgery to repair a torn ACL, to see that he’s been fortunate so far. Thompson didn’t suit up for four consecutive days before returning Monday; Meriweather missed six days of team drills but went through individual drills. Shanahan said he hasn’t held the quarterback out of practice because his knee has been fine, but it would have been easy for him to do so in order to give Griffin a rest.
* Josh LeRibeus hyperextended his right knee on one of the final plays of team drills, and though he said afterward he was fine and was able to walk off the field under his own power, his participation in Tuesday’s practice will sort itself out.
With LeRibeus and undrafted rookie Tevita Stevens out, and with Adam Gettis returning from a hamstring injury to take part in team drills for the first time in training camp, the Redskins went mix-and-match on their third-string offensive line with Xavier Nixon, Tom Compton, Kevin Matthews, Gettis and Jeremy Trueblood protecting Pat White.
“Got to be able to play ‘em both,” Compton said after practice, referring to his role as the left guard.
* It could be a long season for rookie tight end Jordan Reed, who bruised one of his feet during practice and had to be helped off the field. Shanahan said Reed, taken in the third round, would undergo an MRI later Monday to determine the extent of the damage.
Reed already missed all of offseason workouts with inflammation in his left knee and quadriceps and couldn’t afford to miss any more time. He has had the chance to join his teammates for just two weeks of training camp practices, and it already shows: his blocking is substandard, and even his receiving, which is supposed to be his best attribute, has been tenuous. He has fought the football often and been looking upfield before pulling it in, which has led to a lot of drops. If he misses any extended time, the Redskins will have to carry an overwhelmed, potentially unhealthy fourth tight end on their roster into the regular season. That’s basically a waste of a roster space.
* Bryan Kehl has overtaken Roddrick Muckelroy as the second-team mike linebacker behind London Fletcher. He’s still essentially keeping the seat warm for Nick Barnett, who continues to work himself into proper condition after signing a contract with the Redskins on Wednesday.
* Rookie Phillip Thomas was the strong safety and Jordan Pugh was the free safety on the second team. DeJon Gomes played strong safety and Jose Gumbs played free safety on the third team. Reed Doughty, who would have been in the mix for first- and second-team snaps, was held out of practice with minor bumps and bruises, Shanahan said.
* Kirk Cousins won’t be running the option at any point in the preseason – at least, he shouldn’t – and his inability to do so is one of the reasons the Redskins brought White in for training camp. His inexperience has shown through often during practice, and while the team has to run the play to keep the defense sharp, it’s worth wondering how much service he’s doing. He continually pitches the ball too early; on Monday, he pitched it to Alfred Morris not long after the snap and three yards behind the line of scrimmage, which allowed Perry Riley to disregard Cousins’ fake and tag Morris off for a loss of yards. It won’t be that easy in a regular-season game.
* Hall scuffled with Logan Paulsen in the second hour of team drills – and the bigger surprise was that Paulsen was the aggressor. The tight end said he gave Hall an unnecessarily hard shove during a play in the end zone that Hall didn’t like, and he turned around and shoved Paulsen right back. It was something that lasted no more than five seconds before teammates separated them, but 10 days in, some kind of skirmish was overdue.
* The Redskins had their first chance to trot out their “Geronimo” unit, which was former special teams coach Danny Smith’s term for getting the placekicking team on the field and a field goal try off within seven seconds because of the circumstances of the game.
All three offenses were given the following scenario: one minute left, start at the 50-yard line, no timeouts and a two-point deficit. Only White’s team got within field goal range on the heels of two catches by Nick Williams and one by Skye Dawson – and even then, Kai Forbath had to kick a 52-yarder.
Forbath’s field goal, with one second left, was short and to the right, and Forbath was visibly distraught he missed the kick afterward. It was the first time he was tasked to make an attempt with pressure during training camp.
* One fun note from the start of practice: quarterbacks threw short post routes to receivers, and each of them, upon completing the catch, leapt to dunk the ball over the crossbar. Joshua Morgan, at 6-foot-1, had no problem throwing the ball into the net. Neither did 6-foot-2 Dezmon Briscoe. But when 5-foot-10 Williams was up next, he made the catch, ran to the uprights … and dunked it, too. It drew an ooh from the rest of the rookie’s position mates. (Lance Lewis dunked it next after his catch, and Hankerson stutter-stepped in the end zone to fake the approach before walking away, ending the fun.)