Training Camp Notes: Day 11
A breakdown of the Redskins’ 11th day of training camp, including notes on the three rookie defensive backs, Aldrick Robinson’s continued development, the plan for the preseason opener and more.
BY ZAC BOYER
RICHMOND – Over and over again he yelled, only because his players didn’t.
Raheem Morris made sure all afternoon Tuesday that the defensive backs were constantly communicating with each other, constantly imploring them to be loud when calling out their checks and making sure they knew their responsibilities.
“Repeat it! Repeat it!” Morris shouted to free safety DeJon Gomes shortly after he made a call. “Make sure we all know!”
Communication has been important in the secondary, especially with so many players vying for time. Three rookies – cornerback David Amerson, strong safety Phillip Thomas and free safety Bacarri Rambo – will start for the Redskins in the preseason opener Thursday against the Titans, and any breakdown between the three of them could lead to significant lapses on defense.
Brandon Meriweather, who will not play in the game because of lingering soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, said earlier during training camp that the communication between the rookies is the biggest hurdle they’ve yet to overcome.
And when Morris began begging the defensive backs to vocalize what they were seeing, it became contagious. Soon, several were doing it.
* Mike Shanahan missed Tuesday’s practice to attend the funeral of a close friend, leaving assistant head coach and running backs coach Bobby Turner to supervise the afternoon session. Shanahan, as the head coach, doesn’t typically get very hands-on with practice, delegating much of the individual work to his position coaches and their assistants. Turner, with Shanahan since 1995, was more than qualified to do so.
One thing he wasn’t qualified to do? Speak to reporters afterward. League rules mandate the head coach speak each day practice is open, and with Turner stepping in for Shanahan, that responsibility fell on him. Turner doesn’t regard the media very highly; on the few occasions when a question is asked of him, he’ll sidestep it and defer to the head coach. He read a prepared statement for 50 seconds after Tuesday’s practice and didn’t take questions, which was troublesome, to say the least, given the questions that lingered before the final open practice before the first game of the preseason. It was not a welcome move.
* One thing Turner confirmed: left guard Josh LeRibeus (hyperextended right knee), tight end Jordan Reed (bruised foot) and fullback Eric Kettani (inflamed right knee) did not practice. One thing he did not confirm: whether Meriweather or cornerback DeAngelo Hall (sprained right ankle) or left tackle Trent Williams (sprained left wrist) or running back Chris Thompson (inflamed left knee) or right guard Adam Gettis (strained hamstring) or right guard Tevita Stevens (sprained right ankle) would play. OK, that’s a lot of things, and that’s only a list of injuries. But you get the point.
* It appeared players were given the option to wear either shells or no pads at all for practice. The receivers and running backs appeared to have them on; the cornerbacks didn’t. After a practice Saturday in full pads, and one Monday in shoulder pads, players appreciated it.
* Pierre Garçon has been thrown to a lot during training camp, and he’s caught a good number of those passes. But Aldrick Robinson, Garçon’s backup at split end, has also been targeted repeatedly. The third-year receiver may have had the best training camp of any player on offense. He has shown a knack for making tough catches, either down the sideline or over the middle, and he has been used a lot more than on simple go routes.
Before training camp, I suggested Robinson could be the type of player who could back up Santana Moss as a slot receiver, but that’s not the case; he’s just not quick or shifty enough to hold that role. He’s more physical. He’s not the specimen Garçon is as a run blocker, but then again, not many players are. The preseason opener could give Robinson an opportunity to shine.
* One day after Robert Griffin III mentioned that he wanted his role in practice to increase, it predictably decreased. Was it a subtle jab by the coaching staff to keep Griffin quiet? Hardly. The quarterback participated in positional drills in the early portion of practice, but sat out the rest because, for the first time, 7-on-7 drills weren’t a part of the practice plan. At the very least, it’s a good spot to give Griffin a day of rest, considering he hadn’t had one yet. He’ll be back out there Saturday.
* It’s way too early to evaluate the progress made by Thompson and Jawan Jamison, the rookie running backs. The two are completely different players – Thompson is quick and has burst, while Jamison has wiggle and is rugged – but without allowing tackling, it’s hard to see what exactly they can do. Thompson may not get a lot of time Thursday because of lingering soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, but Jamison should get ample opportunity to show where he stands.
* Chris Cooley, now a radio host, was in the ESPN 980 tent broadcasting with partner Steve Czaban during Tuesday’s practice. He was given a rousing ovation as he walked out for the show, and a trickle of fans waited until the end to get their personal effects signed by the former tight end.
* Players will go through a walkthrough Wednesday morning before boarding a mid-afternoon flight to Nashville. They’ll return after the game, get Friday off and practice once on Saturday.