On Thursday morning, the Washington Redskins held their third and final full-team practice open to the media during the team's offseason training activity (OTA) schedule.
It was the 10th OTA practice in total and caps off this particular stage of the offseason workouts at the team facility in Ashburn, Va.
It is the first time this offseason that the players have practiced four days in a row, and sets the team up well for next week's mandatory full-team minicamp at the team facilities.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III again showed incremental improvement in his recovery from offseason surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), running laps around the practice field with rookie tight end Jordan Reed and taking corners at full speed.
He is still weeks away from explosive sprinting or planting and cutting, but told the media after practice that he is greatly encouraged with how the knee held up this week.
Asked if it was a realistic goal to be available when the team takes the field in Richmond on July 25, Griffin III responded: "Without a doubt." More on that later.
The other big injury news from practice was the return of team captain London Fletcher to the practice field after offseason ankle surgery had kept him limited. In case anyone missed No. 59 in the middle of the defense, Fletcher had a tremendous play that qualifies as the Defensive Play Of The Day.
Third-year running back Roy Helu Jr. also returned to practice today, taking part in seven-on-seven drills and showing good mobility and agility on his legs. Most importantly, he looked comfortable cutting and walked off the field with a large grin.
Here is a short list of observations from today's portion of practice that was open to the media:
- Top 2013 draft pick David Amerson has looked spectacular at times, reading coverages and jumping routes against veteran players. At other times, he has looked a lot like a rookie adjusting to a new scheme at the NFL level. While determining any consistent progress will be impossible until games begin, Amerson showed off his nose for the football today, nearly intercepting a pass that slipped through his hands in the rainy conditions. Better luck next time, but at least the rookie is finding himself in the right place at the right time.
- Fans were at today's practice for the second day in a row, as the Redskins treated a select group to witness practice and interact with players after the fact. In addition to the music broadcast over loud speakers, players said they felt the buzz surrounding the team, even at this point in the offseason. It's much easier to drop a ball or blow a coverage when nobody is watching.
Redskins veteran receiver Santana Moss carries a workmanlike attitude into every practice, and still takes joy in beating defensive backs that are many years his junior. While the team was practicing goal line drills today, Moss beat triple coverage in the end zone for an easy touchdown from quarterback Kirk Cousins. There is a reason why Moss led the team with eight receiving touchdowns last year: he just knows how to get open. * Third-year safety DeJon Gomes has had a bit of a quiet offseason when the media has been present, but showed some slick moves today, picking off Cousins on an out route to the sideline. Showing good instincts and a playmaker's desire, Gomes sprinted past the last offensive player and would have scored an easy touchdown. * Third-year receiver Aldrick Robinson continues to impress, getting involved in the offense for more than just Hail Mary plays. Robinson went vertical against two defenders and came down with a slick catch from Pat White during full team drills that earned the praise of his unit coaches on the sideline. * Eric Kettani, who made headlines earlier this week for his promotion to lieutenant in the Navy, was active in the offense today, catching a pair of swing passes from Rex Grossman out of the backfield and showing a burst down the sideline. Darrel Young is the entrenched starter at fullback, but Shanahan has shown a willingness to go with two fullbacks in the past, and Kettani should not be ignored from consideration. * The Redskins did not do live kicking drills today during special teams, but undrafted rookies Nick Williams and Skye Dawson were again back deep to receive. The Redskins have many options at returner, including Richard Crawford, Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall, but the coaching staff is likely trying to determine if either of these rookies is worth a roster spot for a specialty position.
Play(s) Of The Day: Offense
Despite the rain, receivers showed good footwork and sure hands during today's receiving drills, an improvement from last year's Week 8 performance in Pittsburgh with 11 team drops.
This was a rare opportunity for the team to practice outside during inclement weather, as the rain was more of a nuisance to reporters than a hindrance to players.
Two unheralded receivers stood out during red zone drills today, as tight end Logan Paulsen and receiver Joshua Morgan each caught a pair of touchdowns in coverage.
Paulsen looks vastly improved as a receiver from two years ago when he was pidgeon-holed as a blocking tight end. He showed flashes of brilliance in 2011 and opened things up as the top tight end last year, to where he has to be considered a threat getting above and behind the safeties downfield.
Morgan played with a lot of grit and physicality last season, but it was clear that he never felt healthy, as foot and hand injuries limited his effectiveness. Now fully recovered from offseason surgery to correct these ailments, Morgan looks a lot more comfortable in the offense heading into minicamp.
Play Of The Day: Defense
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan praised linebacker London Fletcher for his dedication to the team after practice today, but it isn't a favor to the coaching staff for him to be here.
Fletcher genuinely enjoys the game of football, and showed his giddy, competitive side after intercepting Kirk Cousins on a failed swing pass to the running back out of the backfield.
Fletcher had to dive to make a fingertips catch, hauling it into his midsection just before hitting the ground and rolling forward to get the extra yard before being downed.
When the play was finally whistled dead, Fletcher got up and celebrated with his defensive teammates, showing unadulterated enthusiasm that you might not expect from a 15-year veteran.
The Redskins wrap up the offseason program next week, as the entire week of practices is open to the media during the team's mandatory minicamp. After the conclusion of minicamp, it's so long for the summer, as coaches and players depart for five weeks before training camp.
Coaches and scouts will continue to review film of the 10 OTA practices and adjust their plans and schemes heading into Richmond training camp on July 25.
With the June 1 deadline out of the way, players still available in free agency should start to lower their demands and find teams to go into training camp with. The Redskins are strapped for cash under the salary cap, but the waiver wire is constantly buzzing at this time of year. Keep it locked to Redskins.com for the latest offseason news and notes.