On Friday afternoon, the Washington Redskins held their third open practice session of camp, suiting up in helmets, shells and shorts in front of another sizable, vocal pro-Redskins crowd.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was again the catalyst of fan emotions, spiking fervor when he completed a pass and inspiring a collective sigh on the rare incompletion.
He once again led the offense during 80 percent of the 7-on-7 drills, only giving way on a handful of plays to allow Kirk Cousins some reps.
When the team would break for special teams drills, Griffin III could be seen over the on the far sidelines working out with the offensive coaching staff, and running the plays that he missed with the first-team offense during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.
Head coach Mike Shanahan reiterated after practice that he would bring Griffin III along slowly and did not put a timeline on his return to full team drills.
After practice, Griffin III joined fellow quarterbacks Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins and Pat White, as well as receivers Santana Moss and Nick Williams on the back field, getting extra throws in with Matt LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan.
Here are some other observations from today's portion of practice that was open to the media:
- After position and unit drills, the offense and defense merged for 11-on-11 drills, jumping right into the action again today. With Griffin III standing alongside teammates in the backfield getting mental reps, Grossman and Cousins made the most of their opportunities to perform. Grossman threw the first big pass of the day, hitting Pierre Garcon over safety DeJon Gomes and Richard Crawford for a would-be touchdown. Meanwhile, Cousins showed savvy in the first round of drills, tucking the ball and nimbly running down the sideline past defenders. He also caused an offsides penalty on the defense with a hard count.
- Rookie running back Chris Thompson got work in the offense and special teams today, showing some trademark speed and also the rust of a rookie getting back into football shape. On a pitch play from quarterback Pat White, Thompson let the ball bounce off his hands for a fumble. Showing good awareness, White fell on the loose ball, killing the drill.
- Veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall had an opportunistic afternoon, intercepting three errant passes--two from Cousins and one from Grossman. On the first interception from Cousins, Hall had the benefit of a wobbly pass tipped at the line. He was aided on the second Cousins interception by a pass deflected by safety Reed Doughty, who then became his lead blocker on the return. The third interception off Grossman appeared to be thrown slightly behind intended receiver Santana Moss, where Hall was able to haul it in.
- Cousins hit his stride in the middle of practice, slinging passes to Devery Henderson near the sideline, Aldrick Robinson deep down the field, Niles Paul out in the flats and Pierre Garcon over the middle.
- Through two days of training camp Garcon is flashing speed that Redskins fans have never seen out No. 88. Having suffered his initial foot injury in training camp last year, Garcon ran no faster than a fraction of his potential speed last season. With his foot no longer a concern, Garcon is exploding off the line and cutting with confidence in his second Redskins training camp. He is also celebrating his newfound health with fans, having thrown four balls to fans in the crowd in two days of practice so far.
- Niles Paul is also an interesting player to watch this preseason, as he will be relied upon as one of the team's top coverage special teamers, and could make an impact on offense (with impact being the operative word). More than any other receiver on the team, Paul is willing to lower his shoulder and initiate contact with would-be tacklers.
- Undrafted rookie receiver Skye Dawson is seen as a candidate to take over kick and punt return duties, but will likely need to contribute on offense as well. He used his best returner agility this afternoon after a catch in the flats, stopping and cutting on a dime and leaving Jerome Murphy in the dust. He also has the ability to get back up to full speed in just a few steps.
- On special teams, coordinator Keith Burns had the unit working primarily on kickoffs today, with fans getting a first look at kickoff specialist John Potter. Mixing in deep kickoffs and directional kicking to the sidelines, Potter delivered to Aldrick Robinson, Chris Thompson, Skye Dawson, Richard Crawford, Nick Williams and Niles Paul. Paul stands out in the group, because he has three inches and 45 pounds on the next biggest candidate in the field.
- Rookie tight end Jordan Reed continues to impress, catching a 15-yard reception from Pat White in the 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice. There is much anticipation for what the No. 85 overall pick can bring to the offense this season, so stay tuned for more updates on him.
Play(s) Of The Day: Offense
There isn't much concrete assessment to be made about the first few days of training camp, but Pierre Garcon remains a scary exception to that rule.
Garcon matched up against a number of defensive formations and different combinations of defenders. The one constant from No. 88 was that he was capable getting open against any coverage.
Granted, that coverage is inherently soft without the benefit of bump coverage and tackling, but seeing Garcon catch an intermediate pass and streak for a touchdown, trailing two-three defenders was not an uncommon occurrence during camp.
Perhaps the best play of the day was a perfectly execute play action fake by Kirk Cousins, who rolled out to his right and delivered an aerial strike downfield to Garcon. Breaking through double coverage, Garcon ripped the ball out of cornerback E.J. Biggers' hands for a 40-yard gain.
Speed isn't the only thing that kills, as Garcon brings brute physicality to the receiver position.
Play(s) Of The Day: Defense
Last year, inside linebacker Bryan Kehl was a training camp sensation, leading the team in tackles, and leading linebackers in interceptions and passes defensed.
Somehow he came up just short of the final 53-man roster before rejoining the team midseason. Going into his second Washington camp, Kehl is determined to show that he belongs, and came through with his second big play in coverage today.
Following up yesterday's interception of Kirk Cousins, Kehl blanketed rookie tight end Jordan Reed in coverage and batted the ball away from his outstretched hands. The play earned an enthusiastic high-five from a typically subdued linebackers coach Bob Slowik.
Keep a special eye on Kehl, as the loss of Keenan Robinson for the foreseeable future could make him as asset on defense and special teams.
Redskins training camp enters Day 3 on Saturday, and the first opportunity for fans with a 9-5, Monday-Friday to come see the team in action.
The team will have two more open practices at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Fans are encouraged to print out an official training camp pass and show up early for the best seating on site.
An unnamed Redskins player and head coach Mike Shanahan will hold press conferences tomorrow, streamed live on Redskins.com
As always, for your official source of training camp news, follow along @Redskins.