Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda provide five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, who spoke with ESPN 950 in Richmond prior to the start of training camp.
1. Junior Galette 'looks good' as he enters training camp healthy.It was one year ago on his appearance with ESPN 950 that Gruden confirmed that Galette had once again suffered a torn Achilles just days before training camp was set to open at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
A difficult late offseason blow for the Redskins considering Galette's optimism about a return to the same form that registered 22 sacks during the 2013-14 seasons, Washington moved forward with Ryan Kerrigan once again leading the pass rush. Trent Murphy, meanwhile, was moved back to outside linebacker after a brief stint along the defensive line.
With Kerrigan coming off a Pro Bowl season, Murphy off a career-high in sacks (nine) and the addition of Ryan Anderson, Washington will only benefit from a returning Galette, especially if he's explosive as he once was.
"He's gaining confidence every OTA session that we had, at every practice," Gruden said. "By the end of the mandatory minicamp, he looked like he was explosive. We're just holding our breath to see how he does. I know that Junior's going to work extremely hard and he's going to get himself ready to go. He is a bonus player for us. If he turns out to be anything close to the way he was, it's going to be a huge addition for us. Third down pass rush, doesn't get much better than Junior Galette."
2. The Redskins hope Samaje Perine can gain the tough yards.
While Rob Kelley will open training camp as the No. 1 running back, the Redskins drafted Perine in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft with confidence Oklahoma's all-time leading rusher can be just as effective in a backup role.
Listed at 236 pounds, Perine is the second heaviest running back on the 90-man roster behind only Rob Kelley, who is three pounds heavier but has three inches on the rookie.
Check out images of running back , Samaje Perine during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.
If Perine can be a short-yardage back plus a red zone threat – where the Redskins are looking to improve on last season's struggles inside the 20-yard line – Washington will have a productive rookie in the running backs room.
"He's as strong as an ox," Gruden said. "I saw that he picked up a car the other day or something like that I don't know what's going on there – I would advise against that Samaje – but he looks good. Fat Rob is right now the starting running back and you know Matt Jones will come in here and compete. Mack Brown did a good job in OTAs and finished off the year strong last year for us, and we got Keith Marshall back and obviously Chris Thompson's going to get his touches."
3. Terrelle Pryor Sr. has "adjusted well" to Gruden's offensive system.
Signed by the Redskins in the offseason following a breakout campaign with the Cleveland Browns in 2016, Washington will rely on Pryor in the passing game alongside Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder among others.
While Pryor still is growing in a wide receiver's role following his NFL start as a quarterback, he's benefiting from the similarities between the systems Browns head coach Hue Jackson and Gruden run.
"Some of the terminology is the same, so he's really gelled nicely with learning the terminology," Gruden said. "A lot of times you get a new guy, we've got so many different formations and play calls, that it's hard for them, but Terrelle's a very smart player and mentally he's further along than I would have anticipated. He's very, very bright.
"Now it's just a matter of physically. He's only been playing receiver for a year. You know, I think he only had like 140 targets last year and however many catches, half of the catches, so we have to do a better job of just working with the stems and Ike Hilliard's one of the best receiving coaches in the business and he'll work with him."
4. Cutdown day will be difficult for the Redskins.
In a change to the NFL rules this year, all 32 teams will have until Sept. 2 at 4 p.m. EST to get rosters down from 90 players to 53 players.
The previous cutdown from 90 players to 75 players prior to the slate of preseason finales has been eliminated. That means the Redskins will have a few more days – including the preseason Week 4 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – to get an extended look at some of the players on the bubble.
"I think the cuts this year, we're going to cut some very good players," Gruden said. "Just look at the position battles that we have across the board: corner, safety, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, tight end – I mean my goodness our tight ends are phenomenal right now – offensive line we have great depth, running backs you're going to see good running backs, receivers we're eight, nine, 10 deep right now. It's fun."
5. The Redskins are continuing their long-term plan under Gruden.
First hired by the Redskins in early 2014, Gruden has lead Washington to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 20 years. In March, the Redskins signed Gruden to a multi-year contract extension as they believe he is the right man to lead Washington to a consistently bright future.
With a young but talented roster to work with under a veteran coaching staff, Gruden believes 2017 could be a special year in Washington.
"We've done a good job on the draft. We've got better players and we've addressed some needs offensively, defensively, skill-wise, special teams," Gruden said. "We've added some staff members that I feel very comfortable about working with. I'm able to delegate responsibilities effectively I think to people that can handle it. I think you have to have a great staff around you and I feel like I do. We've gone through some defensive changes here and there on the staff, but I feel very comfortable.
"Greg Manusky is defensive coordinator, and going from there. But I think I've just grown, got to know each player a little bit better, guys that have grown within the system. You get to know your players, your coaches a little bit more and you feel more comfortable."