NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - INSIDE SLANT
Since ending their worst season in 52 years with a 3-13 record, the Washington Redskins embraced personnel changes across the board.
New to the scene are the head coach, offensive coordinator and special teams coach, a Pro-Bowl receiver, a productive pass rusher and a heady, veteran safety. They're also replacing their defensive captain and punter.
But for all of that change, four members of the starting offensive line that received more than its share of criticism last season remain intact.
Center Will Montgomery was cut -- replaced by former left guard Kory Lichtensteiger whose spot was filled by free-agent pickup Shawn Lauvao -- but everyone else returns including much-maligned right tackle Tyler Polumbus.
"My outlook doesn't change no matter what they do," said Polumbus, who filled in admirably when Jammal Brown couldn't make it back from injuries in 2012 and then fended off challenges from free agents Tony Pashos, Jeremy Trueblood and James Lee in 2013 to maintain his starting role. "That's out of my control. Keeping (offensive line) coach (Chris) Foerster and the same run schemes is a huge positive for us. We've done a lot of good things in the run game and we hope to continue that."
The line, led by two-time Pro-Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, helped Washington rank fifth in rushing and third in yards per carry in 2013. When it comes to the passing game, new coach Jay Gruden doesn't believe that the line was fully responsible for the 38 times second-year quarterback Robert Griffin was sacked in 494 dropbacks last season. After all, less athletic backup Kirk Cousins went down just five times in 160 dropbacks.
"We're in shorts right now so it's hard to see," Gruden said of assessing offensive line play in non-contact workouts. "We're going to judge people based on what happens on Sundays. I feel good with the progress we're making. Some guys are going to perform better with pads on than they do with pads off. Some guys are going to perform worse with pads on. I like the way they're working. I like the way they're being coached and that's a start."
Other than ex-Brown Lauvao, Washington added guard/center Mike McGlynn, a regular in three of the past four seasons for Philadelphia and Indianapolis with a year in between in Cincinnati under then-rookie offensive coordinator Gruden.
The Redskins also drafted Virginia tackle Morgan Moses in the second round with hopes of him challenging Polumbus soon and Nebraska guard Spencer Long in the third round with the expectation that he'll eventually unseat 31-year-old right guard Chris Chester, the only projected starter who's over 29.
For now, Lauvao is the only new starter other than the bumped-over Lichtensteiger.
"It's a natural transition for him," Gruden said of Lichtensteiger, who has made all 51 of his NFL starts at left guard. "He's great in the run game. He gets up to the second level with ease. And in the pass protection with the calls that he's making already, he's done a great job. Kory is obviously very athletic. We're excited about what he brings to the table."
Other than McGlynn, the reserve linemen are all very inexperienced. Tackle Mo Hurt, who started eight games as a rookie in 2011 and one more in 2012, is the only backup who has made an NFL start among a group that includes Long, Moses, Tom Compton, Adam Gettis, Kevin Kowalski, Josh LeRibeus and the totally raw Tevita Stevens. But of course, the upbeat Gruden isn't worried about their lack of experience.
"Depth is very important at every position, but probably none more important than the offensive line because offensive line people get dinged up quite a bit," Gruden said. "It's very important for each position to not just know one spot, but to be able to move around because throughout the season you see injuries happen and the guys have to fill in at spots they're not used to playing. We feel like we've done a good job of addressing the offensive line depth situation. Now it's just a matter of getting the guys who are playing to perform at a higher level and I know coach Foerster is working hard to do that."
NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - NOTES, QUOTES
--Defensive end Jason Hatcher, whom Washington signed in March to a four-year, $27.5 million contract -- including a $9 million signing bonus -- was unable to practice on Tuesday and will also sit out the final two days of minicamp with what coach Jay Gruden indicated was a minor knee injury.
"I don't know when he tweaked it," Gruden said of the 31-year-old former Cowboy. "He just said he had a little bit of pain, a little bit of swelling, so we're just going to make sure we do the proper procedures and as far as getting him checked out, MRI, X-ray, all that good stuff, just make sure he's good. There's no concern. ... I feel like he'll be ready for training camp, that's the big thing."
--Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has past experience with joint practices during training camp, enough to know the benefit of individual and team tests that will come out of three days of work with the New England Patriots.
The Cincinnati Bengals conducted similar sessions with the Atlanta Falcons while Gruden was offensive coordinator, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed head-to-head work while Gruden served as an assistant to his brother, Jon.
When Bill Belichick called Paul Kelly, Washington's director of football operations, about working together, the Redskins were open to the idea. The two teams will hold multiple joint practices at Washington's training camp facility in Richmond, Va., before their Aug. 7 preseason game at FedEx Field.
"A lot of times you script these plays and you kind of know where the defense is, you know what players are going to get," Jay Gruden said. "But these are unscripted plays and you're able to see how players react to different types of things. One of the major issues in football is how players adjust and if they can't adjust to different looks, then they're not going to be very effective."
The Redskins' defense should be well-schooled working against an up-tempo offense. Gruden has pushed the pedal in minicamp sessions and that will remain a theme through the season. To Gruden, it's the best way to gauge progress and understanding for players grasping a new scheme.
"We're trying to pick up the tempo. Also, from a communications standpoint, football is a lot about communication nowadays," said Gruden, who also hosted Jon Gruden at Wednesday's practice to get another set of eyes and familiar sounding board to provide feedback. "A lot of teams are running a no-huddle, so from a defensive standpoint, you've got to be able to communicate your calls, get in the right front and talk about it and make sure everybody is on the same page. Offensively, it's a good way to dictate tempo and keep defenses from substituting and keep them out of their blitz packages, all that good stuff. There's a reason for us offensively to utilize it and there's a reason not only from a point of view on game day, but also getting our defense ready for that kind of attack on Sundays. Obviously, Philadelphia ... I'm reading everywhere that a lot of teams are doing more no-huddle, so it's good for our defense to do the work."
Philadelphia's hot-potato offense gets much press, but the Patriots averaged more snaps per game in 2013 with Tom Brady at the controls.
"It's a great opportunity for us to see how our players both offensive line, how we pick up different stunts and different fronts and defensive line, different blocking schemes, obviously route combinations against different coverages and different type meets in the secondary," said Gruden. "And how people adjust and how our quarterback adjusts and how they see things, so it's good for everybody."
That goes for offensive coordinator Sean McVay, too. McVay, in his first season as offensive coordinator, has not been tested much in the offseason with the Redskins running fully scripted workouts. He does, technically, read the plays -- but he is not creating play calls on the fly. Gruden is likely to share that responsibility with McVay in those live workouts.
"We'll see where he's at and how comfortable he is calling plays," Gruden said. "There's coming a point in time where he's going to call some plays, too. We're both going to have input in the game and (offensive line coach Chris) Foerster jumped in there and called a play (Wednesday), so we're going to have some input ... ultimately I'll be calling plays, but I'll obviously listen to a lot of input from those two guys."
--Cornerback DeAngelo Hall left OTAs early after sustaining a cut on his chin on Tuesday, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Hall returned home to Atlanta and was not at Wednesday's practice.
"He's a little bit dinged up with his chin," Gruden said, "but he'll be OK."
--Wide receiver DeSean Jackson returned to practice on Wednesday after missing OTAs since May 29 with a left hamstring injury. He showed no ill effects, even making a fine running catch deep down the left sideline on a ball that just beat the outstretched arms of rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
"He's still not probably 100 percent, he's probably working through a little bit of pain just a little bit," said Gruden.
--Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson continued work off to the side. He is still recovering from surgery to repair ACL and LCL ligaments in his left knee torn last Nov. 17. Gruden remains unsure if Hankerson will be ready for training camp.
--Gruden is confident that the Redskins' new punter is already on the roster with a training camp battle looming between Robert Malone and Blake Clingan. Malone, especially, has looked good in OTAs, smashing one ball off the roof of the team's practice bubble. But there's work to be done yet for both punters.
"It's easy to putt on the practice green, you know what I mean?" Gruden said. "Sometimes when you get on a real golf course, the three-footers get a little bit tougher. We'll see how he does, but we feel really good."
--Nose tackle Barry Cofield did more work than expected during Wednesday's practice, participating in individual drills as he recovers from hernia surgery. But that doesn't mean he's been cleared yet for team drills. Gruden said the Redskins would hold Cofield back so he's ready for training camp.
"He's further along than I think he anticipated even, and I think the trainers, I think you're right, but we're still going to obviously modify what he's doing and make sure he is full-go before he's ready," Gruden said. "He's champing at the bit to get back out there but we have to probably pull him back a bit and make sure he's 100 percent ready for training camp."
NFL Team Report - Washington Redskins - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Redskins signed 2014 third-round draft pick Morgan Moses.
The Virginia offensive tackle was drafted 66th overall. With his contract out of the way, all eight members of their 2014 Redskins draft class are under contract.
Moses (6-6, 318) started 42 of the 48 career games in which he played at Virginia, starting 30 games at right tackle and 12 at left.
In 2013, Moses started all 12 games at left tackle, earning All-ACC second-team honors from conference coaches.
A closer look at the Redskins' picks:
Round 2/47 -- Trent Murphy, OLB, 6-5, 250, Stanford
--The Redskins traded back 13 spots to pick up an extra third-rounder and used their top pick on the lanky Murphy, who led the nation with 15 sacks last season in the Cardinals' 3-4 defense. Could give Washington leverage in contract negotiations with franchise outside linebacker Brian Orakpo if he shows some promise as a rookie backup to Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Will play inside in nickel situations this year.
Round 3/66 -- Morgan Moses, T, 6-6, 314, Virginia
--If offensive line Chris Foerster can get Moses to push himself, the four-year regular (two years at left tackle, two years at right tackle) for the Cavaliers can threaten Tyler Polumbus, who started the past two seasons on the right side. Washington's recent draft picks on the O-line: Maurice Hurt (seventh round, 2011), Josh LeRibeus (third, 2012), Adam Gettis (fifth, 2012) and Tom Compton (sixth, 2012) haven't produced much.
Round 3/78 -- Spencer Long, G, 6-5, 320, Nebraska
--More tough than quick, Long saw action at all three interior spots in college with the most time at right guard. Battled knee injuries the past two seasons. Could challenge to start at center or guard in 2015.
Round 4/102 -- Bashaud Breeland, CB, 5-11, 197, Clemson
--Athletic, quick and willing to play the run, Breeland, who came out a year early, seems like incumbent Redskins free safety Brandon Meriweather in sometimes playing out of control. With several veteran corners on the roster, Breeland will have to earn a job on special teams and can play safety in a pinch.
Round 5/142 -- Ryan Grant, WR, 6-0, 199, Tulane
--Grant has good size and fine hands, but lacks speed and didn't block particularly well at Tulane. Caught 77 passes for 1,039 yards and nine touchdowns last season, but his intensity has been questioned.
Round 6/186 -- Lache Seastrunk, RB, 5-9, 201, Baylor
--Originally signed with Oregon but transferred after an advisor accepted a payment that landed the Ducks on probation. Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of Year in 2012 led conference with 107 yards per game in 2013. First Baylor player to rush for 1,000 yards more than once. Five of 19 touchdowns went for at least 68 yards.
Round 7/217 -- Ted Bolser, TE, 6-5, 257, Indiana
--Set Indiana's career tight end records with 117 catches, 1,337 yards and 15 touchdowns. Has size but doesn't move well. High school receiver could be a better blocker but is a force covering kicks.
Round 7/228 -- Zach Hocker, K, 6-0, 189, Arkansas
--Holds school records for field goal percentage, field goals. Hit five of seven from at least 50 yards. Could make roster as kickoff specialist if he doesn't beat out incumbent kicker Kai Forbath.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Brian Orakpo (tendered at $11.455M; signed tender March 27).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--ILB Nick Barnett (not tendered as UFA).
--WR Dezmon Briscoe (not tendered as RFA).
--S Reed Doughty (not tendered as UFA).
--QB Rex Grossman (not tendered as UFA).
--ILB Bryan Kehl (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--WR Aldrick Robinson (tendered at $570,000).
--DE Doug Worthington (tendered at $570,000).
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--LB Trent Murphy (2/47): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--T Morgan Moses (3/66): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Spencer Long (3/78): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Bashaud Breeland (4/102): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Ryan Grant (5/142): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--RB Lache Seastrunk (6/186): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Ted Bolser (7/217): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--K Zach Hocker (7/228): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--NT Chris Baker: Potential UFA; $12M/3 yrs, $4M guaranteed.
--CB E.J. Biggers: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB DeAngelo Hall: Potential UFA; $17M/4 yrs, $3.25M SB/$5.65M guaranteed.
--LB Rob Jackson: UFA; terms unknown.
--S Tanard Jackson: FA (had been released by Redskins after being reinstated from suspended list).
--S Brandon Meriweather: UFA; $1M/1 yr.
--WR Santana Moss: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Brian Orakpo: FFA; $11.455M/1 yr.
--LB Perry Riley: Potential UFA; $13M/3 yrs.
--S Ryan Clark: UFA Steelers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Clifton Geathers: UFA Eagles; terms unknown.
--DT Jason Hatcher: UFA Cowboys; $27.5M/4 yrs, $9M SB/$10.5M guaranteed.
--LB Adam Hayward: UFA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
--WR DeSean Jackson: FA Eagles; $32M/4 yrs, $5M SB/$16M guaranteed (final year voids five days after 2016 Super Bowl, making it $24M/3 yrs.
--LB Akeem Jordan: UFA Chiefs; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Frank Kearse: FA Cowboys; terms unknown.
--C/G Kevin Kowalski: FA; $1.23M/2 yrs.
--G Shawn Lauvao: UFA Browns; $17M/4 yrs.
--QB Colt McCoy: UFA 49ers; terms unknown.
--G Mike McGlynn: UFA Colts; terms unknown.
--CB Tracy Porter: UFA Raiders; terms unknown.
--WR Andre Roberts: UFA Cardinals; $16M/4 yrs.
--ILB Darryl Sharpton: UFA Texans; terms unknown.
--WR Josh Bellamy (released).
--DE Adam Carriker (released/failed physical).
--LB London Fletcher (UFA/retired).
--S Jose Gumbs (released).
--LB Josh Hull (released).
--C Will Montgomery (released/failed physical).
--WR Josh Morgan: UFA Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Ryan Mouton (released).
--P Sav Rocca (released).
--LB Darryl Tapp: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--C J.D. Walton: UFA Giants; $5M/2 yrs, $1.25M SB/$3M guaranteed.
--CB Josh Wilson: UFA Falcons; 1 yr, terms unknown.