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Practice Notes: 2017 OTAs, Day 5

anthony-lanier-ota-day-4-2017-660-350.jpg's Stephen Czarda and Jake Kring-Schreifels break down the key plays and highlights from Day 5 of Washington Redskins 2017 OTAs.


--Tight end Jordan Reed, left tackle Trent Williams, running back Rob Kelley and wide receiver Kendal Thompson were absent from the voluntary practice session. In the meantime, that's allowed other players such as Vinston Painter to fill in on the offensive line and rookie Jeremy Sprinkle to get some more reps at tight end.

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

--On a side note, while wide receiver Josh Doctson participated throughout individual drills but not unit work. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said the decision was not due to injury.

--I spent some of the individual drills watching tight ends coach Wes Phillips run through some drills with his group. They mostly involved an emphasis on balance and footwork, as players would run before pausing on one leg and then cutting into a route break to catch a toss. Sprinkle got some praise from Phillips as he worked to refine his steps as a pass catcher.

--The running backs group spent time focusing on pass blocking like last week, this time drilling on how to defend an edge rusher's spin move. Rookie Samaje Perine took a little adjusting to this as did Keith Marshall, but both have looked sharp during scrimmages. Perine, who also spent a little time filling in at the fullback position when it's been called, took a handoff to the left and made a decisive cut to find a hole and burst through the secondary. It's challenging to see how that will translate when the players suit up in pads, but he seems to have good vision thus far.

--In the first 11-on-11 session, quarterback Trent Williams connected with Terrelle Pryor Sr.  for about a 60-yard touchdown (the challenge has been trying not to underthrow balls to him because his long strides make it seem as if he is slower) but he overthrew wide receiver Brian Quick on a fly route down the sideline on the next play as the offense worked on some deep patterns.

--During 7-on-7 reps, tight end Vernon Davis caught a touchdown pass in between defenders. A few plays later, Cousins missed Pryor on a pass into the end zone, throwing it above his hands, just out of reach into some tight coverage. As Cousins learns more about how to utilize Pryor's height, you can foresee these types of passes into coverage coming out more positively.

--One thing that was also noticeable on some of these drives was Cousins' cadence at the line, which was able to spark a couple of encroachment penalties.

--At the end of practice, the offense tried some hurry-up to drive down the length of the field. The first team ran 10 plays that culminated in a Niles Paul touchdown. The drive was highlighted by a short pass that running back Chris Thompson corralled and tallied a quick 30 yards, catching the defense off guard.

--The second team didn't have quite the same success, mostly a result of the offensive line struggling to keep blockers out of Colt McCoy's face. McCoy did needle a beautiful pass over the middle to tight end Derek Carrier to continue the drive, which eventually settled for a field goal.

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)


--As the defense did last week, the Redskins worked in their main three inside linebackers – Zach Brown, Will Compton and Mason Foster – with the first-team unit. Compton and Foster was the first pair of inside linebackers during the first session of 11-on-11 work. That was followed by Compton working with Brown on that first unit and then Foster, working as the Mike linebacker and calling the plays, and Brown paired together. Compton and Foster, of course, are familiar with the defense but Brown was signed following a Pro Bowl season with the Buffalo Bills in which he recorded 149 tackles – second most in the NFL. This will likely be a position area to watch in the coming months and there may not be a solid answer to how all three will be used until the regular season opener.

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

--At nose tackle, Joey Mbu once again worked with the first-team defensive unit with A.J. Francis anchoring the second-team and Phil Taylor working mostly with the third-team. For those that may not be familiar with Mbu, the University of Houston product is entering his second NFL season after spending a majority of the 2016 season on Washington's practice quad. In 2015, he appeared in two games with the Atlanta Falcons and recorded four tackles. These three – and potentially a few others – will be used at the nose tackle position when the Redskins are in their base scheme. Gruden said in March that he's confident defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will "make a nose guard" based on his track record.

--It is clear that the Redskins enter this season with more depth at the outside linebacker position, as Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith take a majority of the first-team snaps while Ryan Anderson, Junior Galette and Trent Murphy rotated through on the second team during some unit drills. Kerrigan, of course, is a model of consistency, but adding the returning Galette and Anderson, a second round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, will help the Redskins get to the quarterback more in a defensive scheme placing more of an emphasis on pressure. During the final set of unit drills, Galette beat right tackle Morgan Moses for a would-be sack.

--Beyond those five, Lynden Trail had a strong performance during 11-on-11 work, as he would have recorded back-to-back sacks if contact with the quarterbacks this time of the year was allowed. Trail is currently the tallest defensive player on the roster (6-foot-7) and Washington hopes that he can bring a skillset to match that height entering the 2017 season. Last year, the Norfolk State product appeared in two regular season games.

--Finally on the defensive line, Ziggy Hood and Anthony Lanier II were featured as the defensive ends during a majority of the first-team reps, but Jonathan Allen also made some appearances as well. Terrell McClain had his practice jersey on, but did not participate in team drills Wednesday.

(Stephen Czarda)

Special teams:

--During punt return drills, Washington had the following six players lined up deep: Jamison Crowder, Levern Jacobs, Chris Thompson, Will Blackmon, Bashaud Breeland and Matt Hazel.

--The Redskins ended practice with Dustin Hopkins attempting field goals from 36, 40, 43, 45 and 47 yards. He nailed all of them with ease.

(Stephen Czarda)

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