On Thursday morning, the Washington Redskins held their second full-team practice open to the media during the team's offseason training activity (OTA) schedule.
The highlight of practice was the mobility of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who was upgraded this week by team doctors to be cleared for running.
After warming up and throwing passes to some of his injured teammates on the sideline, Robert Griffin III joined injured draft picks Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed in running back and forth across the practice field end zones.
Griffin III indicated that he still has not been cleared for explosive sprinting or making cuts on his surgically-repaired anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Griffin III was also joined on the sidelines by other injured teammates, including Brandon Meriweather, Josh Wilson, Chase Minnifield, Jordan Bernstine, Roy Helu Jr., Josh LeRibeus.
Adam Carriker was not present at practice as he was elsewhere doing rehab. Safety Jordan Pugh has an ear infection that caused him to miss his plane ride back to Dulles.
Offensive guard Maurice Hurt is getting arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee and is expected to return in time for training camp.
With all other players being accounted for, here is a short list of observations from today's portion of practice open to the media:
- Third-year receiver Leonard Hankerson was again impressive during team drills and seems to have a rapport with second-year quarterback Kirk Cousins, who found him several times in open space. As pointed out by head coach Mike Shanahan after practice, this is Hankerson's first healthy offseason in the team's conditioning program, and he finally has a chance to develop as the playmaker they envisioned in the 2011 NFL Draft.
- The Redskins carry one of the smaller coaching staffs in the NFL, but what they lack in size they make up for in communication. Between every play of full-team drills, a cacophany of instruction is shouted from each unit coach to his players based on his performance in the previous play and what to do better next time.
- Perhaps the most outspoken of all unit coaches in defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, who stands with his assistant coach Richard Hightower about 25 yards behind his players in the secondary during full-team drills. When his players perform well, he is the first man over to congratulate them and keep the unit energized. When a player--particularly his three rookie darft picks--misses a coverage, he is the first man over to correct and encourage.
Second-year cornerback Richard Crawford did more than change his number this offseason, as he has stepped up his game in the secondary. During 11-on-11 drills in the red zone, Crawford tipped a pass intended for Santana Moss that would have been caught for a touchdown. Secondary coach Raheem Morris ran over to slap high-fives with Crawford, pleased with the play. * Head coach Mike Shanahan praised the sophomore's work ethic, saying Crawford was in excellent shape and had applied himself in the film room to improve his instincts in Year 2. The most flattering accolade was when Shanahan compared him to a young London Fletcher in terms of professionalism and demeanor. * Redskins special teams practiced separately for most of practice on the back field, but joined their teammates for live action toward the end of practice. Punter Sav Rocca, who spent the offseason recovering from a torn MCL that hampered his leg last season, kicked to punt returners in the first live action in front of the media this year. * The punt returner competition today included Crawford and rookie receivers Nick Williams and Skye Dawson standing back deep. Special teams coordinator Keither Burns orchestrated the drills from the middle of the action. * Kicker Kai Forbath also got his first action in front of the media this offseason, booting three-for-three from 30, 35 and 43 yards. He said after practice that his focus this offseason has been improving his distance and hangtime to be more effective on kickoffs. Play(s) Of The Day: Offense
Touchdowns are an inexact science when the team is forbidden to hit in an unpadded practice, but some plays leave no doubt that a player would have scored in real life.
During full-team drills midway through practice, quarterbacks Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman and Pat White were cycling though repetitions with the rest of the team, and their mobility was put to the test.
White, who has always been known for his dual-threat ability, got loose in the open field and flashed some of the tremendous speed that made him a top NFL prospect out of college. Defenders would be unable to hit him if they could catch him, but there was nobody on the field in position to do so if they tried.
The surprise happened several minutes later with Cousins under center, as he got loose on the sideline and sprinted past the defensive ends on a beeline to the end zone. Showing that he was having fun with his unheralded speed, Cousins made whooping noises all the way to paydirt.
Play Of The Day: Defense
With more 11-on-11 drills practiced in this week's open session, receivers had much less room to get open in the middle of the field than in seven-on-seven drills. That crowd caused some confusion on offense at times, and the defense remained at-the-ready to take advantage.
One such situation was during red zone drills when Cousins tried to go short over the middle and found the outstretched paw of defensive end Stephen Bowen. Hearing the ball batted in the air, fellow defensive end Jarvis Jenkins spun around and snatched the ball out of the air, immediately turning upfield as a playmaker.
The Redskins ranked third in the NFL last season with 21 interceptions, but look to improve on that number in 2013. Look for those contributions to come from all corners of the defense.
The Redskins wrap up the second week of OTA practices today, with one more week of phase three OTA conditioning left. Next week will hold largely the same schedule in advance of the mandatory mini-camp during the second week of June..
Coaches and scouts will continue to review film of the six OTA practices so far and tweak prepartion in advance of training camp.
All draft picks are signed, but with waiver moves constantly in motion and the June 1 roster date upcoming, a roster shuffle could still be on the horizon. Keep it locked to Redskins.com for the latest offseason news and notes.