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Practice Notes: 2016 #SkinsCamp, 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 training camp in Richmond, Va.


Offense:

--Trent Williams and Jamison Crowder didn't really connect with each other until the second half of the 2016 regular season. Cousins, of course, spent last year's training camp taking second- and third-team reps at quarterback. By the time Cousins was named the team's starting quarterback – just days prior to the regular season – building rapport came on the fly. Jackson would then suffer a hamstring injury in the opening game and wouldn't return until November. When he did, it opened up the entire offense. During Thursday's first practice of 2016 training camp, Cousins and Jackson linked up quite a few times. In the California product's first 1-on-1 against new cornerback Josh Norman, Jackson's stop on a dime created massive separation from the All-Pro for an easy reception. Then on a 3rd-and-8 play during 7-on-7s, Cousins found Jackson for a would-be 50-yard touchdown.

The Washington Redskins conducted their first day of training camp walkthrough practices Thursday, July 28, 2016, at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.

--Cousins was particularly accurate outside of the hashes, as his touchdown pass to Jackson was came on the right sideline while the quarterback also found Rob Kelley for a 25-yard gain on another sideline pass during 11-on-11 drills. The fifth-year Michigan State product's first pass of the day – a rollout to his right with linebacker Ryan Kerrigan pressuring – was complete for about 20 yards or so to Jackson.

--Rookie quarterback Nate Sudfeld showed some promise in his first training camp practice, locating some of the team's rookie wide receivers – who were working with the third-team – relatively easy. Sudfeld, a sixth-round pick out of Indiana, completed 60 percent of his college attempts.

--Rob Kelley once again ran with quite a bit of authority, just as he did throughout OTAs and minicamp. Jones appears to be matching his well-documented strength with quite a bit of burst out of the backfield. He also benefitted from some strong blocking from the first-team offensive line.

--Speaking of burst, Keith Marshall (hamstring) and Chris Thompson (shoulder) made returns to the field after both dealt with offseason injuries. Marshall's speed was evident, even in heavy traffic in the middle of the field. If the Redskins can find ways to get his 4.31-speed into open space, look out.

--Spencer Long pulled double duty on the offensive line, as he took first-team reps at left guard while working with the second-team offensive line at center. Long, of course, is expected to battle with Shawn Lauvao for the starting left guard position, but the Arizona State product won't be ready to practice until Saturday at the earliest according to Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.

--Along with Long, the second-team offensive line on Thursday also included Josh LeRibeus and Arie Kouandjio at guard along with Takoby Cofield and Ty Nsekhe at tackle. Austin Reiter manned the third-team offense at center along with Al Bond, Cody Booth, Nila Kasitati and Kevin Bowen.

--A quick fullback note: while the position is being minimalized by the team, Joe Kerridge – the only listed player at the position on the 90-man roster – got quite a few reps on Thursday and even recorded a reception.

(Stephen Czarda)


Defense:

-- The defense had its first opportunity to hit the field with the reality that linebacker Junior Galette wouldn't be joining them this season. That meant outside linebackers would aim to be particularly aggressive in an effort to fill the void. According to defensive end Ricky Jean Francois, the explosiveness off the edge was what jumped out to him already. Willie Jefferson forced Cousins into some pressures using stunts with the defensive line to find holes up the middle. Lynden Trail was responsible for a Cousins pass deflection and Ryan Kerrigan was his usual disrupting self, backing up blockers into the pocket.

-- Beside the occasional batted ball, the first team defense didn't have many exciting moments or turnovers. Josh Norman drew eyes, naturally, lining up against DeSean Jackson for the first time in front of the fans. He played loose zone coverage for the most part on Thursday, which allowed some completions to be made in front of him, though he did finish out the last play of 11-on-11 drills by breaking up a pass that hit off Jackson's hands in a slant pattern over the middle, earning some cheers and groans in equal measure. "You're quiet today," Gruden joked with Norman off to the side before a play ran, though Norman's exchange with him afterward indicated he was just getting warmed up on day one.

-- The first-team defense didn't change from minicamp. David Bruton Jr. and DeAngelo Hall roamed the secondary along with Norman and Bashaud Breeland, while Will Compton and Mason Foster anchored the middle of the field at inside linebacker. Along the line, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston and Kendall Reyes were bookended by Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan.

-- The coverage downfield was picked apart mostly in zone coverages with receivers finding open pockets between the corners and safeties. Against Colt McCoy, the secondary did better – led by Duke Ihenacho and Will Blackmon at safety – and forced the quarterback to scramble and hold onto the football longer. That resulted in a lot of short dump passes, play actions and rollouts that were quickly gobbled up.

-- The middle linebacker position is still very young after Compton, Foster and Perry Riley Jr., who is beginning training camp on the PUP list. Su'a Cravens and Martrell Spaight worked in tandem on the second team and Steven Daniels had some opportunities with the third team. Daniels , however, received a mouthful from defensive coordinator Joe Barry after a pass completion to new wide receiver Dez Stewart. "You drive the bus," Barry yelled. "You're the mike backer!" referring to his lack of directing on the play.

-- Near the end of practice, the defense prevented Cousins from acquiring a first down thanks to Chris Baker erupting into the backfield and forcing a lazy Cousins throw downfield that fell a few feet in front of DeAngelo Hall. On the previous play, Bruton Jr. stripped a ball from Reed down the left sideline after it appeared he came down with the reception.

-- Cornerback Quinton Dunbar was the only player on the defense unaccounted for on Thursday. Gruden never mentioned anything about his condition during his press conference prior to practice, so Dunbar likely was dealing with a personal matter.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)


Special Teams:

-- Colt McCoy, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder lined up for kickoff returns, though none of them had the opportunity to race upfield because Dustin Hopkins booted all of his tries out of the end zone. As training camp progresses, he'll likely mix up some kicks (as in pop them up high) as he mentioned in June, due to the new touchback line being moved to the 25-yard line.

-- Hopkins finished off practice with some field goal practice. He connected on a pair from 33 yards, made one from 38 yards and split his final two attempts from 40 yards. Tress Way worked on his punting on the side field without any returners.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

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