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Practice Notes: 2016 OTAs, Day 2

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Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels and Bryan Van Balen break down the key plays and highlights from Day 2 of Washington Redskins 2016 OTAs.*


Offense:

-- The Redskins offense saw a few faces sidelined during the first open session of OTAs. Left guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle), Tight end Derek Carrier (knee) and RB Chris Thompson (shoulder) are still recovering from last year's injuries and worked out in plain clothes on the sideline. Tight end Vernon Davis (groin) and wide receiver Josh Doctson (Achilles) were dressed but limited, participating in individual drills but no team action.

-- Trent Williams looked sharp throughout the day. During 7-on-7 play he went 5-for-6 and checked his progressions well, scanning the field for his check downs. Cousins particularly shone during an 11-on-11 4th quarter drill, going 4-for-4 and driving from his own 35 down into the red zone finding Rob Kelley, Jordan Reed and Rob Kelley for big gains. QB Colt McCoy headed up the second-team offense while rookie QB Nate Sudfeld saw just one snap under center.

-- The running back corps was headed up by veteran Matt Jones but Mack Brown, Rob Kelley and Keith Marshall all saw plenty of touches. Jones showed his usual bruising style (as much as he can during non-contact drills) fighting for yards up the gut and convincingly selling the play action. He flashed some impressive pass-catching with an over-the-shoulder snag from Cousins and then executed a perfect spin move to avoid oncoming defenders for about a 13-yard gain.

-- Rookie RBs Kelley and Marshall displayed an impressive ability to stay small and squeeze through running lanes. Their explosive speed helped them find their way into the secondary or around the edge often. Gruden mentioned Wednesday that the team would look to keep four or five running backs on the game day roster, so these two could be names to watch.

-- Left tackle Trent Williams rejoined the offensive line ranks today for his first OTA practice. Williams noticeably slimmed down since last season and looked quicker during individual drills. The first-team offensive line looked familiar otherwise with Spencer Long at left guard, Trent Williams at center, Brandon Scherff at right guard and Morgan Moses at right tackle. During second-team snaps, Long shifted to center and Gruden said that Long will continue to get snaps there to acclimate him to the position.

-- Niles Paul (a former WR and FB) showed off his versatility, lining up as a blocking tight end, a fullback and a receiving tight end. He held off pressuring linebackers, cleared running lanes and hauled in a handful of passes. He showed off his length during an 11-on-11 drill, going up for a 10-yard floater from Cousins that he pulled down in traffic.

-- Garçon and Jamison Crowder both created space among the crowded secondary as each of the wide receivers were able to pull down 15(ish)-yard strikes from Cousins in the middle of three defensive backs.

-- Jordan Reed displayed his playmaker quality today. Reed hauled in a slant over the middle during the 4th quarter drill to keep the drive alive and later completely laid out for a 40-yard pass from Cousins (that he unfortunately dropped). Teammate Vernon Davis said today that Reed's route-running is more impressive than most wide receivers in the league.

Defense:

-- While the majority of players took the field on Wednesday, there were a few notable absences during individual and team drills. Linebacker  Junior Galette, along with linebacker James Gayle,  worked with head strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark off to the side and then observed from the sidelines during team drills. Head coach Jay Gruden said Galette won't be participating in team drills until training camp just as a precaution after his torn Achilles last August, but he is certainly eager to get onto the field. Perry Riley Jr. walked around in a boot on his right foot Wednesday after experiencing some more pain there recently, Gruden said, and rookie cornerback Jonathan Allen, recovering from his knee injury early last season at Virginia Tech, was limited on Wednesday, but looked fluid during his time on the field.

-- Right now, it's David Bruton Jr. and DeAngelo Hall as your starting safeties. They took the majority of first-team reps in both 7-on-7's and 11-on-11's with Bruton playing deep free safety and Hall at the strong position. Hall looked particularly agile out there entering this offseason fully healthy. Occasionally, Will Blackmon, who earned some nice praise from secondary coach Perry Fewell, worked in at free safety with the first team as he makes the transition there from cornerback, but was mostly paired with Duke Ihenacho for second team reps.

-- On the outside we got our first look at Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, mostly playing opposite of each other on the field. The offense didn't bunch too many receivers together on Wednesday, so it's hard to tell just yet if either one will see much time in the slot position during zone defensive schemes. They both looked fine, though no contact is allowed during OTAs, so it's hard to see how Norman's style and talent looks just yet in burgundy and gold. The same could be said for newcomer Greg Toler, who jumped into the first team reps during nickel coverage. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry did scream at the cornerbacks once when they left Mason Foster alone on the outside to cover a wide receiver.

-- The defensive line might be under the most scrutiny this season based on the departure of Terrance Knighton, veteran Jason Hatcher and the fact that the Redskins used only one draft pick – Matt Ioannidis – to bolster an aging group. Still, Gruden isn't too worried with the collection he has out there, especially considering each player is so versatile. In base defense, newcomer Kendall Reyes played defensive end alongside a rotation of Kedric Golston, Ricky Jean Francois, Stephen Paea and Chris Baker. Trent Murphy, switching from linebacker to defensive end, got some work in on the right side of the line. Ioannidis and Ziggy Hood should figure to play more in the middle of the line as they sort out reps in the second unit. -- With Galette watching from afar, Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who has slimmed down just a bit and become a bigger leader on the defense, took over the edge positions on the first team. Smith made some really nice plays – one involved covering tight end Jordan Reed, staying stride for stride with him some 30 yards down the sideline to prevent a completion – and looked strong in pass coverage. In between Smith and Kerrigan, Will Compton and Mason Foster took control of the middle of the field together, giving way to Su'a Cravens, who took some second-team reps and provided some tight pass coverage, including during an out-route to tight end Niles Paul.

-- The two big plays on defense from Wednesday belonged to Quinton Dunbar, who twice picked off Colt McCoy while guarding rookie wide receiver Maurice Harris. The first interception was his most impressive, jumping in front of a corner hitch route and collecting the pass right in front of Harris' hands while staying in-bounds. The team ran over yelling to congratulate him as he spun the ball in the celebration. The second came from an overthrown deep pass to near the end zone in double coverage. While Blackmon stayed in front, Dunbar circled behind Harris and made the grab before running up field toward the sideline.

-- Overall the defense looked really strong for the second day of OTAs. Players were batting down balls, forcing incompletions. Many times they would continue to strip running backs after plays had ended, something Barry has preached, and a couple plays resulted in fumbles due to their persistent practice. It should be exciting to see how this group comes together in the coming weeks.

Special teams:

-- The Redskins chose to have just one kicker – Dustin Hopkins – on the team, something different than in years past. He didn't take any kicks or field goal attempts, though special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica did have his squad line up in field goal formation and go through the motions.

-- It looks for now that Crowder will continue to be on the top of the depth chart for punt returns. Other players taking punts were Blackmon, Maurice Harris and cornerback Dashaun Phillips, who all got a couple of reps in between team drills.

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