The Redskins wrapped up their scheduled three-day mini-camp after just two days, a plan that was fully expected but never made official by Jay Gruden or the organization until Gruden said to the media "have a good vacation" as he finished his final press conference of the "off-season."
Washington had been scheduled to practice Thursday morning but this will be it until July 30th in Richmond.
Away we go with some of what I saw on Wednesday, with the caveat being I wasn't able to take full notes because the rain was making it difficult to write.
***The entire team worked on fundamentals for a seemingly longer time than normal today. Maybe as a reinforcement for the long off period that players will have.
Practice opened up with a special teams period once again, as we wrote about yesterday, that seems to be right in line with training camp mode and how things worked in Richmond last year.
The offensive line under the tutelage of Bill Callahan worked on plenty of zone blocking technique, focusing on engaging first with the defender and then moving.
The point? Get your hands into a guy first and then move him. Callahan kept focusing on his guys lifting (engaging in the block) by getting low and into a defenders pads and then "climbing" in tandem and on an individual basis.
At times, based on what I've seen in the past, the focus seemed to be on movement first before contact. I could be wrong, but either way, this technique makes sense.
The tight ends also worked a drill that I haven't seen before, nor did others. Wes Phillips, their position coach, had a player face down on the ground with a ball in his hand and get up while trying to get through a gauntlet of other position players trying to punch the ball out with an oversized punching bag style padding over their arms and to serve as a club.
"Fundamentals are very important," Jay Gruden told reporters when I asked about this. "The last thing I want our players to do is walk out to practice and go, 'Ah, here we go again. The same stuff, different day.' So we've got to change it up and challenge them mentally and keep them involved."
"I think the coaches have done a great job of that, changing up the way we approach different drills and different fundamentals," Gruden said.
**When you watch Redskins practices this year, you regularly see rookie Matt Jones working with the first-team offense. It's only practice and nobody is in pads, but the Redskins have used him in plenty of 3rd-and-short run situations and overall in a lot of red zone sequences.
Jones started the first red zone period on Wednesday. On the 2nd play from scrimmage in this period, Jones dipped his body low and burst through a small hole in the middle of the offensive line.
Griffin would have been sacked or hit very hard by Trent Murphy early on a red zone play. Two plays later, Griffin found Logan Paulsen in the end zone but coaches had already yelled out "SACK" before Griffin threw the pass.
In a 7-on-7 period, Griffin had to double-pump before firing a pass that was caught but appeared to be out-of-bounds to Ryan Grant, who was covered by David Amerson. Gruden did not look happy at all about this particular rep and who could blame him.
Griffin then found Andre Roberts along the back line of the end zone and yelled out what sounded like "Boo-Yeah, Baby!"
A few plays later, Griffin quickly fired a high incomplete pass out of the end zone that Gruden praised him for. I would have too. It was the perfect example of what Gruden has been preaching. Griffin made a quick decision, didn't have anything and got rid of the football where it could not be picked off. Live another day.
However, soon after, Griffin had a couple of passes where nobody was open in the same period and he threw a couple of late incompletes.
Later in the practice, Griffin hit DeSean Jackson for a short but quick completion and then under heavy pressure awkwardly flung an incomplete pass to avoid disaster.
Griffin would have had a very nicely designed touchdown catch using my personal favorite 3 x 1 alignment with Jackson, Roberts and Pierre Garcon on one side inside the five-yard line but Garcon dropped the pass.
***The other quarterbacks were OK for the most part with Colt McCoy appearing to be first in front of Kirk Cousins Wednesday. That was opposite of how it was on Tuesday. Whatever.
McCoy did have an interception that was picked off by rookie Tevin Mitchel, who did a fantastic job (more on this shortly) but McCoy can not get away with throws like this in the red zone. You are talking disaster. Or debacle. Or self destruction. Whatever you prefer.
McCoy could have been charged with another interception as well, but the play wasn't his fault. Roberts could not come up with a relatively easy catch and Justin Rogers was in perfect position to make the interception before the ball got batted around and dropped to the ground.
Cousins was pretty animated after one rep as the Redskins ran a read-option look with the fake/pull by Cousins who fired it slightly high but right to Jamison Crowder who stayed in-bounds and caught what would have been a pretty touchdown. Cousins screamed out "TOUCHDOWN!" in a way that you only occasionally see Cousins react.
**Trent Murphy was terrific when I watched him on Wednesday. In a red zone period, he dipped his shoulder low and drove around rookie OT Brandon Scherff for what would have been a sack or a very hard hit on Griffin.
In the same period, he also leapt over an attempted cut block to put big pressure on Griffin.
Later, Murphy went right around Niles Paul who was very frustrated with his inability to control Murphy.
There was another play where Murphy put significant pressure on one of the Redskins quarterbacks but that was during a rain period, so I do not have details on that particular situation.
**We mentioned Tevin Mitchel's terrific interception off of McCoy earlier. I happened to lock in on Mitchel and his matchup against Ryan Grant right before the snap and you could see how well Mitchel played it. He was in man and locked his eyes in on Grant, before cutting underneath Grant's route along the backline of the end zone. It was terrific, tight coverage with good eyes and anticipation by Mitchel and by far the play of the day.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980