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Haslett Joins Penn State
by Chris Russell
Jun 24, 2015 -- 3:03pm
ESPN 980

Former Redskins Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett has officially been hired as a consultant at Penn State. 

The announcement was made this morning by the university, but was quietly known by some in the media for several weeks. 
Haslett joins James Franklin's staff as he enters his second year after rebuilding Vanderbilt's program and replacing Bill O'Brien at the help of the Nittany Lions. 
Franklin said Haslett "will work with the Penn State football coaches, staff and program" and "be a fantastic sounding board for our staff." 
Haslett had an opportunity at UCLA to join Jim Mora's staff but the distance from his children  and the fact that he is still being paid by the Washington Redskins for the 2015 season led to Haslett rejecting that offer.
Haslett's son, Chase, is a quarterback at Jim's alma mater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) which is located about an hour from Penn State's campus. Haslett has a daughter that attends VCU in Richmond and another daughter, Kelsey, that is located on the east coast as well.
“I am thrilled to join the Penn State football family,” Haslett said as part of a statement released by Penn State University.  “James is one of the great, young head coaches in the collegiate game today and he is leading this Penn State program in the right direction. The future is very bright for Penn State football and I am excited to be a part of it.”
Many misguided Redskins fans will and have already scoffed at the notion that Haslett could not land an NFL Defensive Coordinator position. It is true. He was not offered one. 
He had opportunities in the NFL and again at UCLA, but the situation had to be right. That doesn't make Haslett a bad coach as he so often has been accused of. 
As I pointed out on twitter and have said many, many times - plenty of good football coaches do not get jobs right away and sometimes ever. 
You know, like the man who brought Haslett to Washington. Mike Shanahan. Anyone that would say Mike Shanahan isn't a very good football coach is nuts. Good at running an organization? The jury is clearly out on that issue. 
Or maybe you prefer a guy like Jim Schwartz who ran a top-five defense in Buffalo last year and was canned by new Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan. Schwartz, the terrible coach that he is (apparently) could not find a new position and instead will serve as a league consultant. 
Wade Phillips, widely regarded as a defensive guru, was out of work all of last year and was bypassed by the Redskins for their defensive post before eventually landing in Denver. 
We can argue this all day long. The record is pretty clear. Yes, Jim Haslett's defensive units  did not overcome the bare bones resources they were given on a consistent basis. 
To say that he didn't have any success here in Washington is simply preposterous. Fans conveniently choose not to remember that Haslett's defense was a huge part of the 2012 NFC East Championship run.  
They also forget that the 2011 defense in a pass heavy era was 12th in the NFL in passing yardage allowed, while ranking 13th in the league in yards per game allowed despite having a putrid offense to support them. 
In other words, don't blame Jim Haslett. Blame those that make all of the critical decisions inside Redskins Park. Those decision makers put Haslett and the Redskins defense in an impossible situation. 
Haslett will serve as a consultant for one year and I would be willing to put  some good money down that he will be back in the NFL next year. 
If Jim Mora Jr. has a big year at UCLA and once again lands an NFL head coaching job, that's where Haslett will wind up from what I know. 
Chris Russell -  - 

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Opinions & Observations - Mini Camp June 17th
by Chris Russell
Jun 17, 2015 -- 7:55pm
ESPN 980
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. 
I mentioned last week that I liked how Jones uses his body at times to become a smaller target and I saw this again today. 
**Robert Griffin III wasn't as sharp today as he was on Tuesday and that was probably to be expected. 
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 - - 

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Opinions & Observations - Mini Camp June 16
by Chris Russell
Jun 16, 2015 -- 8:39pm
ESPN 980

The Redskins opened up their scheduled three-day minicamp on Tuesday here in the intense heat and humidity of Ashburn. 

A constant breeze helped cool things off, but make no mistake about it, it was hot and not fun. 
The Redskins players, coaches and media will have it even worse in Richmond because the team has scheduled eight practices starting at 3 PM, which is the hottest part of any summer day. 
Here's a look at what I saw on Tuesday. 
***Unlike previous open practices to the media, the Redskins opened up with a special teams period featuring punt blocks and other technique drills. That's normally how they opened up training camp practices in 2014, so perhaps this was a shift to more of what we will see in Richmond. 
**As 11-on-11 drills started, newly signed Stephen Paea blew up the first play of the period by knifing into the backfield beating a combination of Spencer Long and Brandon Scherff. This is the second time in recent practices that Paea has started off practice in a strong manner. 
**The number one defensive unit was the same as it has been for the limited practices we are able to see. Duke Ihenacho and Dashon Goldson were at both safety spots, joined by Paea, Trent Murphy, Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton, Bashaud Breeland and Chris Culliver
**Early on, Robert Griffin III overthrew Pierre Garcon  significantly, who was well covered by Breeland with Goldson closing over the top. 
Griffin went on to have a pretty good day and looked much more comfortable and accurate than I have seen him in any practice over the last year plus. 
Griffin hit a short pass to Niles Paul to his left, followed by a pass to the right flat to Logan Paulsen. Griffin got rid of the ball quickly and efficiently. 
In a 7-on-7 period, Griffin did have a poor throw to Jamison Crowder which was high and off-target, but followed that up with a nice completion to DeSean Jackson when it looked like his primary target was covered. 
In the next 11-on-11 period, Griffin hit Niles Paul on a well-timed route and throw, while also finding Jackson again on a hook route with tight coverage from David Amerson
Griffin then found Pierre Garcon before the  other quarterbacks  came in.
During down-and-distance drills, Griffin looked efficient completing passes to Garcon and Jackson, before the first-team offense struggled to complete the drive (More on that shortly).
Jay Gruden, wanted to test his offense right away, so instead of yanking them off the field for a failed red zone trip - Gruden made them work from their own 1-yard line. 
On the first play from a very dangerous spot on the field, Griffin found Andre Roberts along the far sideline. Griffin yelled out that he was in-bounds, saying "Come on Jay!" when Gruden ruled him out. A defensive player yelled out, "this isn't college, Robert. You need two feet." 
Griffin and the offense got a three-yard run from Matt Jones on 2nd down and then on 3rd and 7 from the 4, Griffin received good pass protection and confidently fired a strike to Pierre Garcon for a first down. 
Griffin was very animated and fired up, saluting his offensive line and Jay Gruden shouted out "Way to stand tall!" and saluted Griffin and the offense for two outstanding reps back to back. 
Later in the practice, Griffin found a wide open Andre' Roberts on a roll to his left as a defender fell down. Roberts easily strolled into the end zone and Griffin was again fired up clapping in a Florida Gator style chomping motion. 
"Every day he is doing something a little bit better, and that's all we can ask, man," Jay Gruden told reporters. 
Griffin was far from perfect. We mentioned the overthrow of Garcon early and the poor pass to Crowder along with the red zone failure. This is why that sequence broke down.
After the Redskins converted a short third-down run by Matt Jones (I believe it was 3rd-and-3), Griffin rolled right on the next play and threw an incompletion out-of-bounds while facing heat from Stephen Paea.  Griffin then had a poor throw to Ryan Grant, a pass that was low and behind his target. On 3rd-and-3, Griffin threw incomplete on a contested fade to Grant that was broken up perfectly by David Amerson
Again, there were some plays that were not very good but for the most part, every quarterback has a couple of ugly throws in a game or practice. 
It was how he looked overall that I liked. It was a more confident Griffin. It was quicker decision making and a more accurate quarterback that I saw. 
Of course, it was only one practice. He has a long way to go. Our guy John Keim from ESPN & ESPN 980 was impressed as well
I'll be very interested to talk to new Quarterbacks Coach Matt Cavanaugh on Wednesday. He's been working with Griffin and the others. 
***Cornerback Tajh Hasson (UNLV) had two interceptions today. The first was off a non-catch by Colin Lockett in a 7-on-7 period. 
Later in the practice, he picked off Kirk Cousins (also the quarterback on the first INT) along the far sideline and I'm not quite short what Cousins was looking at. He appeared to try and look off a safety but it didn't appear that he saw Hasson at all. 
Chris Russell - - 

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Redskins Open Camp July 30th in Richmond
by Chris Russell
Jun 14, 2015 -- 9:34pm
ESPN 980

For a third consecutive year, the Washington Redskins will hold training camp in Richmond at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center. 

As was fully expected and quietly known, the Redskins will report to their Richmond facility on Wednesday July 29th for physicals, meetings and media availability. 
The first day of practices will be Thursday July 30 with a switch in the schedule calling for the main practices to be in the afternoon and mostly at 3 PM
The Redskins will hold a walkthrough at 10:35 AM to start the training camp schedule and that same exact 10:35/3 PM schedule will be repeated for the first five days of the training camp 2015.  
Tuesday August 4th will serve as an off-day for players followed by the same 10:35/3 PM practice schedule on the 5th. 
At that point, things get a little twisted with the Houston Texans coming into Richmond for two main practices at 8:35 AM on Thursday and Friday, August 6th and 7th.  The Redskins will hold walkthroughs at 4:10 each day. 
It is not known if the Texans will participate in the afternoon sessions, but last year the New England Patriots did not. 
Saturday August 8th is a 10:35 joint team practice between the Redskins and Texans before Houston leaves town and the Redskins take a day-and-a-half off. 
Washington resumes their training camp schedule on Monday August 10th with the regular 10:35/3 PM split but then drops back to only one practice on Tuesday afternoon August 11th at 1:35 before flying to Akron, Ohio on Wednesday August 12th in advance of their preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday August 13th. 
The Redskins come back to Richmond on Saturday August 15th for a sole 1:35 PM practice session, before wrapping up the Richmond portion of their camp schedule on Sunday August 16th with the 10:35/3 PM split. 
In addition to the flip back to the main practice in the afternoon, which the Redskins did in 2013, the Redskins are changing the timing of "Fan Appreciation Day" which is usually the highest attendance day of any training camp schedule. 
It's normally on the 2nd Saturday of the camp schedule and before the preseason opener, but because of the Texans visit, the event falls on the 2nd to last day of the Richmond stay. 
Also, the Redskins have typically wrapped up their Richmond portion of the schedule on a weekday, but this year it will be on a Sunday because the Redskins play their preseason game on the following Thursday at FedExField (August 20, Detroit) as opposed to the last two years in which they've hosted a Monday Night Football game at FedExField. 
The schedule allows the Redskins to have a practice session and perhaps two at Redskins Park in advance of the Lions game. 
The Richmond Times-Dispatch and Michael Phillips were first to report the exact dates and schedule. The Redskins are expected to make an official announcement on Monday. 
Chris Russell - - 

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Opinions & Observations - Redskins OTA's Week # 3
by Chris Russell
Jun 09, 2015 -- 6:19pm
ESPN 980
***DeSean Jackson was not at the Redskins organized team activity practice on Tuesday. He "had a personal matter to attend to today. He'll be back tomorrow," said Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden
Keenan Robinson did not participate in any of the team drills. He was present and was carrying a helmet. I believe he told other reporters that it was nothing major. Will Compton replaced him along with Perry Riley on the first unit. At one point, I could see Joe Barry calling in the plays via radio to Compton who can play both inside linebacker spots. 
Ryan Kerrigan is off of crutches and was present for practice, as was Jordan Reed and Trent Williams
**It appeared that the Redskins did a lot less individual technique and unit technique drills than I have seen the last two weeks. More team drills was on the menu today. It's also something that should be happening after a couple of weeks of OTA's. 
**The Redskins signed free agent tackle Bryce Quigley to a contract after a hard workout in front of Scot McCloughan, Alex Santos and Bill Callahan. Quigley was with the San Diego Chargers and the Detroit Lions after signing as an undrafted free agent. 
To make room for Quigley, the Redskins waived Quarterback Hutson Mason
**I saw Preston Smith at the left outside linebacker position a lot more today than in previous weeks. That was with the first unit for the most part. In the previous few weeks, Trevardo Williams had received most of those reps while rotating sides with Trent Murphy
Speaking of Murphy, he would have likely had a sack of Robert Griffin III on the 2nd play of full-team drills. 
**Once again, Duke Ihenacho was the first-team starting strong safety. Ihenacho had a really nice pass breakup at the goal line on a Robert Griffin III thrown pass during red zone drills. 
***As we've mentioned several times, David Amerson has been rewarded for his hard work this off-season by getting all of the first team reps when the Redskins play nickel, with Bashaud Breeland kicking inside to the slot. Amerson, has also been paired with Chris Culliver in base packages at times. That's over Breeland occasionally. 
Amerson made two great plays today. On one, he broke up a long sideline pass intended for Tony Jones from Colt McCoy. On another, he blanketed  Ryan Grant in the end zone for an incomplete. He did get beat once by Grant on a perfect fade pass when the Redskins were working on corner and fade routes from the five-yard line. 
Remember: DeAngelo Hall is still not practicing and that will change some things for the Redskins when he returns. 
***Trey Wolfe had plenty of run with the 2nd unit at the right cornerback spot. He appeared to play a lot of "off" coverage and mostly man when I locked in on him. 
***I saw Matt Jones get a lot of reps with the first unit. On one run, he crouched really low making a big target harder to find in traffic. There's something about Jones I like so far and that something is not just one thing. As I've said several times, I believe Jones will have a big workload this season for many reasons.
**Alfred Morris was quite active in the pass catching element today. He probably had more catches today than I've ever seen at any practice. Quite simply, if the Redskins want to avoid negative plays and help their quarterbacks out, that part of Morris' skill set has to get better. 
***Stephen Paea blew up a run on the very first play of the team portion of practice. He was quick off the ball, shot the gap and it would have been a wow type play that the Redskins have been missing. 
**I'll write about the quarterbacks more in-depth later but as usual there were some good things and plenty of bad things that I noted. Safe to say this - if this team has to depend on a quarterback to throw 30-plus times in a game, they are in a LOT of trouble.
**Also, I caught up with Kirk Cousins after practice. Hear the interview between 7-8 PM Tuesday night on ESPN 980 or listen to it here.  
**I mentioned Ryan Grant above when referencing David Amerson, but in addition to that, he had consecutive catches on each side of the field on what appeared to be out-routes. After the 2nd one, in which he flashed good footwork and body control, Jay Gruden praised him loudly for his good work. Grant is going to be a factor this year in my eyes. 
**It's hard to get a sense for good or bad offensive line play without being able to watch it back on tape and slow it down, but the Redskins continue to mix-and-match with Josh LeRibeus at center, Tom Compton at guard and trying to find different ways to maximize what they they have. 
On one snap, I saw Shawn Lauvao do a great job to get under the pads of Jason Hatcher and stone him. 
Spencer Long continues to work at right guard with the first unit. 
**Linebacker Ja'Gared Davis had a really nice leaping interception with the ball thrown behind him. He appeared to awkwardly twist his body in mid-air to come down with it, off of Colt McCoy
**From a special teams perspective, two things jumped out today. Kai Forbath missed a 52-yard field goal attempt wide left with enough leg  at the end of a Cousins on minute hurry-up drill. 
Also, the Redskins ran a trick play on a fake  field goal towards the end of practice involving Forbath who actually threw a touchdown pass to the aforementioned Spencer Long of all people. 
Chris Russell - - 

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Three-and-OUT: Trent Williams
by Chris Russell
Jun 05, 2015 -- 6:44pm
ESPN 980
Trent Williams, one of the Redskins offensive captains, is entering his sixth NFL season and is a three-time Pro Bowler. 
He's one year away from unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career. He entered the league in 2010 with the number four overall pick. 
Because of the rules in place then, Williams was able to sign a six-year deal with 36 million guaranteed. That's far more than he would have received if drafted a year later. 
I caught up with Williams after Wednesday's OTA session at Redskins Park, a practice that he could not medically participate in for our staple "Three-and-OUT" feature. 
CR: How bad is your ankle injury? 
TW: "It's nothing major at all. We wanted to kind of get it under control right now. I didn't want to deal with it all season, (I will) just take this little time of OTA's off and be ready for camp." 
CR: What did Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte tell you about the chances of re-injury? 
TW: "If I treated it the right way, right now, and rehab for these next couple of months then I wouldn't have to go under the knife of any kind. I'll be back and ready to play when camp starts." 
CR: What is the exact diagnosis? 
TW: "It was a high ankle sprain is what it was originally diagnosed with. I got off of it for like eight weeks. I thought that's what it took a high ankle to heal. Coming back, I had the one pain in one spot and I went it got it  checked out and come to find out, I had a torn deltoid ligament. It's since gotten better since the first MRI in January, so he just said, if I continue aggressive rehab and strengthen everything around it, it will continue to get better and  I should be OK. "
CR: What's the update on a contract extension. Is there a chance it could be done before camp? 
TW: "Obviously, I want to be here. That's not the question. It's just getting things worked out."
**What will be really interesting is to see how the Redskins handle this situation considering that Ryan Kerrigan is the most likely long-term extension option and because of the 2016 option they currently hold on Robert Griffin III, they could be patient and use the franchise tag for next year on Williams. 
That would lock him in for two more years, but nothing more. 
Chris Russell - - 

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