It's only been one practice with his new team, but defensive lineman Caleb Brantley already has a good feeling about his position coach Jim Tomsula.
"I really like him, he's a down to earth guy, he lets his D-linemen play football and that's what I love about him," Brantley told reporters. "He's open to a player's perspective. That's just some of the things I noticed right off the bat that I love."
The latest addition to the active roster was a bit of a surprise signing by Washington, after the 2017 sixth-round pick was waived by Cleveland over the weekend. The team let go of Anthony Lanier II – dealing with a hip flexor and groin injury – in the process, hoping that Brantley's second opportunity in the NFL will bulk up the middle of the defense.
And so far, Brantley is impressed with the structure, the camaraderie and the leadership of his young position group, one he's looking forward to knowing better.
"I feel like I can add pressure up the middle," Brantley said. "Just be a disruptive force, that's the kind of player I am, just get up in there and get vertical and penetrate. I feel like I can be that kind of player here. I feel like I can learn a lot from [Tomsula], he's one of the best D-line coaches, just looking forward to learning from him and doing what he asked me to do."
Brantley is familiar with the Redskins. He made a visit to the team facility during the 2017 draft process, and was projected as a second-round talent. The Browns ultimately chose him in the sixth round, and the Florida product appeared in 12 games, recorded 18 tackles and two sacks.
"This is one of the places I thought I was gonna come, that I liked," he said. "But it didn't end up happening that way. I'm just glad they gave me an opportunity. Just looking to make the most of it."
"We had a good chance to take a look at him and we had good grades on him when he came out and we decided to make the move," Gruden said.
It will take at least a few more days for Brantley to reacquaint himself with the Redskins organization in its entirety. But, not far removed from college, he still remembers playing against many of the Redskins' young defenders – especially as many come from Alabama.
"I think it's pretty cool to be around guys that can play ball, that's similar, they know how to pass rush, they're just a fun group of guys, it's not just football, they actually do stuff with each other, hold each other accountable," Brantley said.
"I mean, I think it's a good thing that everybody can grow together but I also think it's good because they have a guy like Ziggy Hood in the room and I didn't have a guy like that at Cleveland," he added. "I can go to him and ask him about stuff that I might be having trouble with in my career or that I might necessarily don't know how to do, so he's been there and he's a vet and so it's cool to learn from him."
Check out these photos of the Redskins' preparing for their Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
Gruden doesn't expect Brantley to play right away. He'll take the next couple of weeks to scout what he brings to the defensive line and how he can work his way into the rotation.
"He's got a chance to get in here, learn the defense a little bit and develop because we have some defensive lineman ahead of him right now playing on game day. He'll get some work in in practice and we'll get a good look at him for the next couple weeks and go from there."
Brantley believes his best asset is his acceleration off the line of scrimmage, and believes that with Tomsula mentoring him will only enhance the trait that's gotten him this far.
"I just find I get off, get vertical, and I find the ball," Brantley said. "So I feel like with [Tomsula], watching practice today, he's really going to help me evolve into a really great pass rusher, he's going to teach me how to use my get-off in the run game and the pass game. So I really look forward to that."