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Practice Notes: 2016 Minicamp, Day 1

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Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels break down the key plays and highlights from Day 1 of the Washington Redskins' 2016 minicamp.


Offense:

The Washington Redskins held minicamp practice Tuesday, June 14, 2016, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

--Trent Williams is letting it be known he likes where the Redskins' offense is right now. On multiple occasions during Tuesday's practice, Cousins was perhaps the most vocal he's ever been during his five seasons in Washington. That started with a pass to Rob Kelley on the very last play of individual drills. Working on goal line routes with the receivers, Cousins lobbed a pass to Garçon in the corner of the end zone for a score. After confirming the Mount Union product got both feet in, Cousins blurted out "That's how you win the game!" This was just the start. Later on during 11-on-11s, Cousins found Jamison Crowder for a would-be 60-yard touchdown. Cousins would sprint downfield, pointing to the sideline where the media was standing, and yell "Celebrate! You all love that!"

--It wasn't just Cousins who was getting loud, though, as head coach Jay Gruden wasn't shy in praising the quarterback or anyone else on the offense for that matter when they did something right. During the first set of 11-on-11s, rookie running back Rob Kelley had a beautiful cut up the field to which Gruden responded, "That's an excellent cut right there!"

--Speaking of Kelley, with Chris Thompson still out recovering from offseason surgery and Keith Marshall not participating in practices with a hamstring injury, the Tulane product continues to get quite a bit of play with the second and third teams and looks impressive in doing so. The Redskins also have Mack Brown and Kelsey Young on the roster.

--Niles Paul made quite a few impressive catches throughout the day as he works his way back to the field after a scary season-ending ankle injury suffered last August. Paul admitted he was slightly hesitant when he first got back in action, but the sixth-year Nebraska product doesn't look hampered by the issue anymore.

--Arie Kouandjio and Spencer Long continued to alternate reps at left guard with the first team. After playing only sparingly during his rookie season, Kouandjio took up boxing this past offseason and believes the work is going to pay off for him as he fights for more playing time.

--Along with Thompson and Marshall not participating, wide receivers Reggie Diggs and Josh Doctson and tight end Jordan Reed did not practice again on Tuesday. Gruden said the team is being cautious with its first-round pick, while Reed turned his ankle last week and likely won't practice again tomorrow.

--Vernon Davis continues to take advantage of the opportunity of additional reps with Reed out, as the 11-year veteran was active in the passing game throughout the day and is yet another target that Cousins can utilize. Towards the end of practice, Cousins landed a perfectly placed ball to Davis – after he broke out of his route perfectly -- which deserved a "That's a hell of a strike, No. 8!" compliment from Gruden.

--Another guy that is turning heads? Jamison Crowder. As a rookie, Crowder looked like a seasoned veteran on the field and that's continued during offseason practices this year, as he's yet again proving to be a great target on underneath routes. On back-to-back third down plays on 11-on-11s, Crowder caught first down passes.

(Stephen Czarda)


Defense:

-- The defense seemed to be a lot stronger and more cohesive as a unit on Tuesday after looking a little porous last week. Overall the energy and communication was loud, and it became boisterous when baiting the offense into three false starts – notified by the referees on the field. A few times, after Cousins had yelled "You Love That!" to reporters when he hit Jackson with the deep touchdown, the defense responded with their own sarcastic versions after some stops on third down. Head coach Jay Gruden said that the team has a lot of good trash talkers and that Cousins likes egging the defense on. That was certainly evident multiple times throughout practice.

The Washington Redskins held minicamp practice Tuesday, June 14, 2016, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

-- The first-team defense remained intact from last week, with David Bruton Jr. and DeAngelo Hall starting at safety. Defensive end Kendall Reyes seemed to get more snaps alongside Kedric Golston up the middle and Chris Baker setting the left edge. It seems as though Quinton Dunbar is getting more of a look with the first-team defense, too. On a number of occasions, Josh Norman sat out while Dunbar, Dashaun Phillips – continuing to embrace the nickel position -- and Bashuad Breeland roamed the field.

-- That meant that Duke Ihenacho and Will Blackmon, who subbed in a few times for Hall, stayed primarily as the second-team safeties, directing a mixture of second- and third-team defensive backs. On a couple of occasions, Ihenacho would commend Su'a Cravens after some plays at linebacker and offered some more advice based on the angles he was taking. Ricky Jean Francois, Matt Ioannidis and Trent Murphy played together on the defensive line while Martrell Spaight played the mic linebacker position and called out plays.

-- During 7-on-7's, Bashaud Breeland made a nice leaping interception off Kirk Cousins in front of Colt McCoy, intersecting with a post route, and returned it down the sideline, earning some squeals from defensive backs coach Perry Fewell and some handshakes from DeSean Jackson. Breeland wore his gold pants on the field along with Bruton, who played a lot of one-on-one coverage with Paul, lining up a few yards away from him even at safety.

-- During 11-on-11's, the defense shut out the offense from reaching the end zone in the second half of practice, starting with a three-and-out that culminated with Chris Baker batting down a pass. A couple of earlier red zone drives would have stalled, too, thanks to Preston Smith's wingspan, getting his hand on a swing pass, and pressure from linebacker Houston Bates, forcing Cousins into a pass over the middle that Norman ripped away in the end zone, earning some loud cheers from the defense.

-- The second team defense was just as strong against McCoy's offense, producing a couple of three-and-outs at the end of practice. They ended with an exclamation though, when cornerback Lloyd Carrington made an incredible one-handed interception off quarterback Nate Sudfeld as he fell backwards, holding onto wide receiver Jarvis Turner. The defense immediately swarmed him in celebration with the largest cheer of the day.

-- Injury updates: Linebackers Junior Galette, Perry Riley Jr. and Adam Hayward continued to work off to the side, while defensive end Stephen Paea was absent from practice. I watched Riley go through some sprints – he's been out of his boot for about a week now – and look fine, while Hayward said that he is ready to pad up for training camp and that the coaches want to play it safe with him for now.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)


Special teams:

-- Not much has changed as far as who is lining up to collect returns. Crowder still has a lock on the starting job, followed by Ross,Blackmon and Phillips. Tress Way fed them with some more boomers today – averaging around 50 yards – working on all sides of the field.

-- Dustin Hopkins kicked field goals to the side on a far practice field away from the team. He kicked the ball off a few times for the special teams unit to get some valuable reps as well. He mentioned last week that from now through training camp, he will play around with some different types of kickoffs as coaches get creative with the new league rule  that  implements touchbacks starting at the 25-yard line.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

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