The second day of the scheduled three days of joint practices with the Houston Texans was the first practice of Training Camp 2015 that included rain. Whilst many of the seasoned veteran beat reporters that cover the Redskins were smart enough to bring ponchos or spray jackets, this rookie was sitting on the sidelines in shorts and a polo shirt, watching the action and ignoring the fact that he was getting wet. With that said, here’s what stood out on Day 9.
Training Camp Report: Day 9
- By my count, 12 Redskins players either spent the entire day on the sidelines or finished the day on the sidelines, waylaid due to minor injuries. Included in this group were DeSean Jackson, DeAngelo Hall, Chris Culliver, David Amerson, Bashaud Breeland, Stephen Paea, Logan Paulson, Frank Kearse, and Preston Smith. None of the injuries are major.
- For the second day in a row I got an up close look at Breeland’s work with the strength and conditioning coaches as he works back from his MCL sprain. To my medically untrained eye, he is moving freely and doesn’t appear to be in any pain. During agility drills with the rope ladder, his knee didn’t seem to be hampering his agility or speed in any noticeable fashion. Barring a setback, it seems like we’ll be seeing him back sooner rather than later.
- Overall, day two of the joint practices with the Texans was a much stronger day for the Redskins on both sides of the ball. On offense, both the Redskins first and second units moved the chains consistently, and only had one turnover (there was also a turnover for the third team offense). On defense, the Texans struggled to pick up any yards either on the ground or in the air against the Redskins, and when you consider that for a large part of the practices the starting outside Cornerbacks were Deshazor Everett and Tajh Hasson, it’s a very pleasing result in terms of seeing the scheme produce results.
- On the first day of practice together, Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses probably ended up about even in their battles against JJ Watt; he won some, and they won some. On day two, JJ Watt obviously wanted to make sure he re-asserted his dominance, and with the exception of a handful of good plays, JJ Watt looked like the superstar he is, and won the day. The positive to take out of that though is that even though Watt got good pressure and leverage against both Moses and Scherff, I didn’t see him get to the Quarterback at all. Yes, he collapsed the pocket a few times, but by then the ball had either been thrown, or Robert Griffin III stepped up or out of the pocket before Watt could get him.
- One of those ‘handful of good plays’ that Scherff had against Watt mentioned above was a big highlight on day two. On a run play to the right, JJ Watt started the play lined up against Scherff, who was at Right Guard once again. After grappling a bit at the snap of the ball, JJ Watt saw the Running Back coming towards his side of the line and tried to shed the Scherff block. Planting his feet strongly in the ground and getting underneath Watt’s pads, Scherff put two hands in to Watt’s chest and launched him up off the ground and on to his back, helped somewhat by another Texans defender who was also on the ground at this point. It was a nice showing of raw power from Scherff, who can hang his hat on the fact that although he may not win the overall war, he has definitely won a few battles against the best player in football.
- Robert Griffin III had a reasonably good day, throwing some nice sharp passes and standing tall in the pocket. By my count he took two sacks during the day, but it was nice to see him take the sacks instead of trying to make something out of nothing. He had one series that saw him under pressure 3 consecutive drop backs in a row and as such he had no room to step up in to the pocket to get rid of the ball, but he handled it reasonably well.
- Griffin did throw his first interception against the Texans today. Once again under pressure, he went through his reads quickly and threw a 12 yard pass to Pierre Garcon who was crossing the middle. The defender with Garcon (believed to be Kareem Jackson, but the defender was mobbed by his teammates after the pick so I was unable to confirm) read the Quarterback’s eyes well and made a great play on the ball, jumping the route and ending up with the pick. It wasn’t a horrible throw from Griffin, but he would have been better taking the sack. Something I’m sure Coach Matt Cavanaugh will go over with him when they watch the film.
- After the main 11-on-11 scrimmages were over, both Coach Gruden and Coach O’Brien called an audible and moved their units in to the redzone for an unscheduled goal line scrimmage. With the ball placed on the 10 yard line, the Redskins first team offense started the scrimmage. Their first snap was an effective-yet-unimaginative Alfred Morris run that gained 5 yards between the tackles. The second snap, however, was a well-executed thing of beauty. Robert Griffin III received the snap from under center, executed a quick (and textbook) 5 step drop back, and threw a precise back-shoulder fade to Pierre Garcon in the top left corner of the endzone for the touchdown. The ball was placed where only the receiver could get to the ball, and Cornerback Kareem Jackson could only watch as the pass ended up in Garcon’s hands. Great play.
- The Texans first team offense then got the exact same scenario; 1st down, ball on the 10 yard line. After three snaps netted only 2 total yards gained, they settled for an imaginary field goal (the Special Teams units didn’t actually come on to execute the field goal attempt). The Redskins defense, especially the interior Defensive Line and the safeties Dashon Goldson and Duke Ihenacho, gave the Texans absolutely nothing.
- It was Colt McCoy and the second team offense’s turn after that, and on third down from the 6 yard line, McCoy fumbled the snap, recovered, improvised by rolling out to the right, and found Evan Spencer who came back to the ball nicely for the touchdown. It was good to see that McCoy didn’t panic after fumbling the snap, and the second team Offensive Line did a good job protecting him, giving him time to recover it.
- Rookie Running Back Matt Jones had a good day today, and on one play in particular he got a huge response from his teammates. He took the handoff on a left-side stretch run, and after running behind Trent Williams made one-cut and turned up the field. When Matt Jones has a bit of space to build up steam, he’s an incredibly tough runner to bring down, and Texans Cornerback Kareem Jackson learned that the hard way. On the end of the run with contact from Jackson imminent, Jones lowered his helmet and shoulder and trucked the defender completely off of his feet. It was a huge hit, right in front of the Redskins sideline, who responded with a huge cheer. Redskins General Manager Scot McCloughan was standing next to me watching the play, and when he saw Jones truck Jackson, he looked down at the ground, smiled, and let out a long and happy “Nice”.
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