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Practice Notes: 2016 #SkinsCamp, Day 4

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Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels break down the key plays and highlights from Day 4 of the Washington Redskins' 2016 training camp in Richmond, Va.


Offense:

--The Redskins offense received a boost with the return of left guard Shawn Lauvao, who was activated off the PUP list. The lineman sat out for the entire offseason, meaning Spencer Long and Arie Kouandjio got some more reps in his spot, and should continue to battle with him now that he's back healthy. For the most part, Lauvao looked strong mixing in with both the first and second team offense, planting his feet and running with the line on run blocks. For now, Long has the edge on the first team based on the reps and experience there from OTAs and minicamp, but expect Lauvao to make a  good bid for the spot in the week to come

--Running back Robert Kelly supplied the only other injury news offensively. He felt his hamstring tighten up in walkthroughs, but caught it early and sat out the afternoon practice. He seemed confident he would be able to return on Tuesday.

--Running back Chris Thompson showed off his versatility and handiness out of the backfield. On the first set of 11-on-11 drills, he made a nice reaching grab over the middle as Trent Williams couldn't find his first option downfield. Later during 7-on-7 red zone drills, Thompson made himself available over the middle for Cousins again and later made a nice long run down the sideline after bouncing outside on a lead up the middle. Running backs Keith Marshall and Mack Brown each had some nice runs during practice but both struggled to catch the ball. Brown missed an easy touchdown catch from McCoy rolling to his left and Marshall couldn't grab a similar red zone strike.

--During those red zone drills tight end Jordan Reed displayed how dangerous he can be as a tight end. He lined up outside like a wide receiver on safety Duke Ihenacho, ran about five yards into a fade and made a nice diving grab back towards the goal line. Later, against linebacker Perry Riley Jr. lined up with him a few steps off the line, Reed put on a juke move in traffic that separated the two by about five yards. Cousins couldn't get a pass off, but it was another example of Reed's basketball move ability. He also showed off his speed against linebacker Mason Foster, running a fly route and hauling in a perfectly thrown  lob from Cousins for a would-be touchdown.

--That pass from Cousins ended a strong sequence for the offense that began with two Rob Kelley runs up the middle for about 10 yards each. He seems a lot more confident in his cuts this season, finding holes in the next level and exploiting weak tackles. It should be interesting to watch what effect, if any, having Lauvao back in the fold at left guard has on the run game, which was significantly impacted last year after his injury early in the season.

--The offense struggled a little more in the red zone and during the final set of 11-on-11's thanks to some mental miscues, including a fumbled snap from Spencer Long and a dead ball foul in the same series, causing Gruden to cut the drill short.

--Nate Sudfeld finished practice with a touchdown to wide receiver Dez Stewart in the back of the end zone. He got a few more reps in Monday and looks a little more confident making calls and audibles at the line of scrimmage as he tries to get familiar with the offense.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)


Defense:

--The addition of Josh Norman was expected to help the defensive unit, and perhaps no player more than the budding Bashaud Breeland. Breeland picked up right where he left off before Sunday's off day on Monday afternoon. During 7-on-7 red zone work, Breeland picked off quarterback Kirk Cousins after the third-year Clemson product jumped in the way of a pass lofted into the air for Rob Kelley. Breeland wasn't done there. In the latter stages of practice during 11-on-11s, Breeland stayed stride-for-stride with Garçon down the field to force a ball out of bounds. Norman, meanwhile, sees very little action come his way.

--Along with Breeland, eight-year veteran Greg Toler has also pieced together a solid start to training camp after head coach Jay Gruden admitted he was the "forgotten" man in the cornerbacks room. During the first session of 11-on-11s, Toler nearly jumped a Ryan Grant dig route. While the wide receiver would catch the ball, assistant defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant told all of the defensive backs on the sideline that, "His feet were sweet coming out of that break; thought he had it!" Just a few plays later, Toler broke up a pass nearly completed to Jamison Crowder 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.

--One more cornerbacks note on the day, Jonathan Allen received all of the first-team reps at nickel cornerback. While Fuller missed a majority of the team's OTAs at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park and Dashaun Phillips performed well with the first team, the rookie has jumped into a role that could receive quite a bit of action from the get-go.

--Perhaps no matchup is more exciting to watch – and more even -- when the offensive linemen and defensive linemen go 1-on-1 than Chris Baker and Brandon Scherff. The two often end up in a draw, but it also shows just how talented both players are. The highlight from today's 1-on-1s came when linebacker Ryan Kerrigan blew past Morgan Moses. Even though it looked as if Moses mistimed the snap, the Redskins' 2011 first-round pick's speed was far too much for the third-year tackle to overcome.

--With the team in full pads, the Redskins had their first practice with referees in attendance. It meant that some of the stuff that potentially went unnoticed over the first three days ended up being flagged on Monday. During unit red zone work, both cornerback Quinton Dunbar and linebacker Preston Smith were called for penalties. Dunbar held tight end Niles Paul outside of the acceptable limit, drawing the ire of head coach Jay Gruden who said the second-year Florida product had to get his hands off of the receiver a lot earlier.

--Another player that made a standout play today was defensive end Ricky Jean Francois. During the first 11-on-11 session, Jean Francois blasted through Trent Williams and Shawn Lauvao for what would have been a pretty sizeable tackle for loss on running back Matt Jones.

-- Su'a Cravens did not appear much during unit drills, as the rookie safety watched from the sideline as players duked it out.

(Stephen Czarda)


Special Teams:

--The usual punt returners were back field kicks from Tress Way, as Chris Thompson, Colt McCoy, Jamison Crowder and Will Blackmon all tried their hands at receiving sky-high punts from the lefty. While he is 31 years old now, Blackmon does have three punt return touchdowns to his credit.

--Dustin Hopkins once again nailed all of his field goal attempts, successfully converting from 33, 38, 43 and 45 yards.

(Stephen Czarda)

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