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Practice Notes: 2016 OTAs, Day 5

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Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels break down the key plays and highlights from Day 5 of Washington Redskins 2016 OTAs.


Offense:

Check out images from the Washington Redskins' offense during their fifth day of OTAs at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

--Rob Kelley is clearly looking healthy and more comfortable in the offense entering his second season. Jones missed the final two regular season games in 2015 and the Redskins' playoff game against the Green Bay Packers with a hip injury. Jones underwent minor surgery in the offseason to correct the issue before returning full-go last month. While it's always difficult to judge how the running backs are doing during OTAs without contact, Jones showed quite a bit of burst throughout Wednesday's practice session. Without Alfred Morris in the fold, Jones is expected to be the team's No. 1 back.

--After practice, Jones said he honed in on his ball security during the offseason, too. "I just changed the point of the grip," Jones said. "I mean I grip it more inside and hold it close to my body more. Last year I tried to hold it like Tiki [Barber] at the end of the season, but I didn't feel comfortable with it. Now I am holding the ball with all points of pressure covered."

--Depleted by injury last season, one play in particular showed how healthy – and versatile – the tight ends group is right now. Niles Paul, who is returning from a dislocated ankle suffered last preseason, lined up at fullback with Logan Paulsen to his left at tight end. Paul showed good mobility out of his stance, while Paulsen made a short reception.

--Speaking of the tight ends, Jordan Reed twice made big-time catches during the team's third-down drills. His first catch came on 3rd-and-9 over David Bruton Jr. for a would-be first down, while the second was a shoestring catch out of the flat.

--Some of the younger wide receivers got a chance to shine throughout the day with Josh Docston (foot) and Jamison Crowder not participating. During 7-on-7 drills, Colt McCoy recorded back-to-back touchdown catches including one on his back. Jamison Crowder, meanwhile, was a top target throughout the day and made quite the catch in one particular third-down drill.

-- Trent Williams, meanwhile, had two touchdown throws during 7-on-7 action. A rare drop by Jamison Crowder would have made it a third.

--Behind Trent Williams, Spencer Long once again received reps at center. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said after practice that Long and Shawn Lauvao – who is close to returning – will compete for the starting left guard position.

--Perhaps the catch of the day came from undrafted wide receiver Maurice Harris, who tallied a one-handed snag from Nate Sudfeld during third-down drills.

(Stephen Czarda)


Defense:

-- The first-team defense remained intact from last week's media session. Coaches still like the pairing and leadership of David Bruton Jr. and DeAngelo Hall at safety while corners Bashaud Breeland and Josh Norman continue to lock down the perimeter in regular base defense. On the line, Ricky Jean Francois mixed in with the first team more than last week alongside Chris Baker and Kedric Golston.

Check out images from the Washington Redskins' defense and special teams during their fifth day of OTAs at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

-- Keep in mind that nothing is set in stone. Head coach Jay Gruden said last week that he likes using a pencil for starters because it has an eraser. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry said Wednesday that he doesn't use a sharpie at this stage in the game. You get the picture. So, there's still a lot of competition and mixing and matching, especially in the nickel defense, which offers a lot of options in the secondary. Will Blackmon had some opportunities with the first team alongside Hall, playing a mixture of free and strong safety, and cornerback Greg Toler mixed in with the ones during nickel schemes. It seemed like the offense shuffled through some more complex formations than last week, so the defense had the opportunity to move its parts around.

-- For example, during 7-on-7's, Norman covered Jamison Crowder, lined up in the slot receiver position, and Breeland took over Pierre Garcon duties on the outside. Both were crouched on the same side of the field. The defense faced some red zone work at the 15-yard line and stopped the offense from getting a first down on two-of-three snaps. The second team defense allowed two touchdowns in the same scenario, but on one of the stops, Toler made a nice read against tight end Logan Paulsen, earning him some praise from Joe Barry.

-- Duke Ihenacho stayed at strong safety on the second team and showed some versatility lining with receivers while Blackmon played deep in those scenarios. Ihenacho had help from Toler and Dunbar, who worked together at corner. This is primarily where some draft picks got a chance to work in – Su'a Cravens, who stayed on the second team, paired up with Martrell Spaight at middle linebacker, while Houston Bates, Trent Murphy and Kendall Reyes bookended a rotation of Stephen Paea, Matt Ioannidis and Ziggy Hood inside.

-- The defense seemed to struggle a bit against the run, allowing some big chunks to Matt Jones and then a touchdown to rookie Robert Kelly. It's hard to read into anything too much at this stage, especially when no pads are contact is allowed, but it seemed like the offensive line had its way for the majority of the day.

-- No interceptions this time around, though Will Compton, being very vocal on the field and taking charge of the defense, broke up a corner route that would have been a touchdown and Will Blackmon made a nice strip fumble during the final drives of practice.

-- As far as injury news, linebacker Junior Galette remained off to the side, as he will until training camp just as a precaution, along with linebacker Adam Hayward and Perry Riley Jr., who is still limited with a walking boot right now.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)


Special teams:

-- Once again, Dustin Hopkins didn't size up any field goals on the practice field. He did, however, help launch some football into a jugs machine for punt returners. The usual suspects remained back returning, including Jamison Crowder, Will Blackmon, Rashad Ross, Dashaun Phillips, who looked impressive at cornerback as well, and rookie running back Kelsey Young.

-- Something else to note: corner Bashaud Breeland was one of many taking kickoff return reps during special teams drills. Rashad Ross and Jamison Crowder were the other notables along with a few rookies. Chris Thompson was one of the key returners last year with Ross and Andre Roberts, but is still working off an injury. Breeland may just be a placeholder until Thompson returns to the field.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

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