Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels and Bryan Van Balen break down the key plays and highlights from Day 2 of Washington Redskins 2018 OTAs, presented by Loudoun Economic Development.
-- Let's start up front, where there will be notable absences for a good portion of spring practices and into minicamp. Four tackles were missing from the offensive line on Wednesday – Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe and T.J. Clemmings – due to various ailments and recovery periods. On top of that, head coach Jay Gruden mentioned that guard Tyler Catalina had a minor tweak in Tuesday's practice that will force him to miss a little time. The second day of OTAs then placed third-round selection Geron Christian at left tackle and John Kling at right tackle, bookending left guard Shawn Lauvao, center Chase Roullier and right guard Brandon Scherff.
-- There are plenty of new names on offense, the biggest starting at the quarterback position. Alex Smith said after Wednesday's practice that the last few weeks of the offseason program have been great for his rapport with his new receivers and felt everyone was ready to go for OTAs this week. That was evident with another new weapon – wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. – who showed off his speed and route-running ability throughout the day. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder believes Richardson will provide a similar presence as DeSean Jackson, noticed on a deep ball down the right sideline that Richardson collected out of the reach of cornerback Greg Stroman. Their deep ball chemistry should be fun to watch as practices continue throughout the next couple of weeks.
-- Smith, for the most part, looks comfortable and patient in the pocket, waiting to find the right target as he adjusts to his new outlets. On occasion, Smith was flushed from the pocket and went through the same kinds of progressions, getting a feel for throwing on the run and getting a better taste of the team's defense. He said at his post-practice press conference that he enjoys the banter he hears from safety D.J. Swearinger, incting the competition. New quarterback Kevin Hogan had some nice plays scrambling, too, and his accuracy is something that stands out immediately, both in some of his finesse passes and deep throws, which he connected on a couple times.
-- It's clear that the Redskins have an abundance of talented running backs. The side effect of so many injuries last year was the addition of some dynamic backups that showed they could compete at the NFL level in their limited playing time. Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley took the bulk of the first-team snaps (there is no depth chart, but they typically started team drills), followed by Derrius Guice. With Chris Thompson in sweats watching in the backfield, Kapri Bibbs and Byron Marshall got some action, too, as did undrafted free agent Martez Carter, who looks extremely comfortable catching passes and finding lanes through screens.
-- It should be noted that Guice, even without real pads on, looks like he will be an explosive and shifty player. From the snap, he fired out of the backfield and often found holes juking around defenders. It's impossible to tell how much the defense might have clipped his momentum, but he looks like a confident runner and pass catcher. The same could be said for wide receiver Trey Quinn, who had some good battles with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. His standout play came on a pass over the middle, leaping over cornerback Danny Johnson on a seam route to make a 20-yard grab.
- Jake Kring-Schreifels
During his press conference today Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said "our depth chart is in flux," and that was certainly the case on the defensive side of the ball during OTAs.
-- The defensive line has been run as a rotation in seasons past, and the trend seems to be continuing. Stacy McGee, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen took the field first, but Matt Ioannidis rotated in with the first team as well. Payne spent most of the practice (first, second, and third-team) at the nose tackle position. Meanwhile, Gruden said that while Allen looks good and is 100 percent, the team will limit his reps as he works back from a Lisfranc injury he sustained in Week 6 of the 2017 season. Phil Taylor Sr., who missed the entire 2017 season with a quad injury, was not at practice today.
-- As expected, Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith led the first-team outside linebackers. The duo is coming off a season where they combined for 21.0 sacks (Kerrigan: 13.0, Smith: 8.0) and appear to be locked in for 2018. Second-year linebacker Ryan Anderson and newly-acquired Pernell McPhee rotated throughout second and third team reps with Alex McCalister and Pete Robertson.
-- With Zach Brown out today (Gruden says he's moving into a new house), Mason Foster and Josh Harvey-Clemmons got the majority of first-team reps at inside linebacker. Zach Vigil and Martrell Spaight led the second-team reps with fifth-round draft pick Shaun Dion Hamilton working in as well. Gruden noted that the team has a lot of options to choose from at ILB, but cited this as an opportunity for players like Harvey-Clemmons, Vigil, Hamilton and Jerod Fernandez to get quality reps and quality work at the positon.
-- Cornerback Josh Norman obviously has the first corner position locked down while both Orlando Scandrick and Quinton Dunbar alternated at the No. 2 positon. Scandrick also received most of the first-team reps at the nickel corner position. During his press conference, Gruden noted that Scandrick's experience at nickel benefits not only the defense, but helps the slot receivers improve their game as they face a proven talent. Cornerbacks Josh Holsey and Fabian Moreau alternated between outside and nickel with the second-team defense while Danny Johnson, a college free agent out of Southern, received most of the reps on the other side. During 11-on-11 drills, Johnson nearly came down with an interception when QB Kevin Hogan targeted a receiver over the middle of the field.
-- Safety D.J. Swearinger continues to be the vocal leader of the defense and had his teammates riled up during 11-on-11 drills after big back-to-back plays from the secondary – a Dunbar pass defense and then a near-interception from Swearinger himself. Montae Nicholson took first-team safety reps opposite of Swearinger while Deshazor Everett and fourth-round draft pick Troy Apke led the second-team unit.
-- During 7-on-7 drills, seventh-round draft pick cornerback Greg Stroman matched Paul Richardson stride-for-stride down the right side of the field on a deep pass from Smith. Richardson hauled in the perfectly placed pass, but Stroman's coverage of the veteran was outstanding, especially for a rookie in his second practice with the full team. Later during 11-on-11 drills, Stroman broke up a slant from Hogan to Shay Fields over the middle, completing a strong day for the rookie.
-- The special teams unit of kicker Dustin Hopkins, punter Tress way and long snapper Nick Sundberg remains completely intact from the 2017 season with one addition: punter Sam Irwin-Hill. Irwin-Hill, an Australian native, spent time with the Dallas Cowboys before signing with the Redskins this offseason.
-- Bryan Van Balen