The Redskins held two rookie practices on Saturday here in Ashburn, part of rookie mini-camp weekend at Redskins Park. They arrived on Thursday for physicals and meetings, which was followed by a practice and more meetings on Friday. Saturday was a day to perhaps show a little bit more of what they are all about.
It's hard to get a true feeling for really anything, so I will just give you my observations, both positive and negative.
**Trent Murphy: The 2nd round pick had an interesting day, lined up mostly at the left outside linebacker position (Ryan Kerrigan's main spot) in the morning practice.
Murphy jolted rookie tight end Ted Bolser with a two hand punch to the chest and easily beat him to get pressure on one play.
Murphy was locked up a couple of times by third-round pick Morgan Moses who got the best of him a few times, although I wonder if that's because Murphy dipped his head and upper-body too low, losing leverage and strength.
Murphy played a play-action boot right correctly and measured up the quarterback within his sights. Murphy outstretched his arms and hands, and somehow did not knock the pass down, although it was incomplete. Just after the player outside linebackers/pass rush coach Brian Baker worked with Murphy on the proper technique for his hands on that particular play.
I did see Murphy on one rush in a four-point stance and flipped to the right side of the formation.
After the practice session once again, Baker met with Murphy for a longer period of time to help his adjustment.
In the afternoon practice, on consecutive plays, Murphy gave a two-handed stun punch to Morgan Moses that jolted the big right tackle who was easily beaten by Murphy. On the very next play, Murphy drove inside of Bolser (notice a theme) and blew up a run play.
**Morgan Moses: As mentioned, he got the best of Murphy twice in one-on-one rush situations that I paid close attention too.
It seems that he lunges and gets off balance way too easily, and that could be because of his longer arms. Even when he held off Murphy, it was far from clean technique wise.
Just before that session, I saw Moses get obliterated by a player on a try-out, Michael Cole from Maine. Cole went right around Moses to Morgan's right with a little dip and Moses was no match. Clearly, this can happen on any play against anybody but it was interesting to see how he handled Murphy but struggled in this particular match-up.
On a couple of outside zone runs to the left tackle side, Moses looked around for somebody to block in the zone blocking scheme and appeared to somewhat give up on the play. I note this because you can't ever stop, with players cutting back against the grain, you never know where one push or block might spring a huge play.
I didn't pay a lot of attention to Moses in the afternoon session, but getting rocked as he did by Murphy was a bit alarming because when he does struggle - it tends to come from being out of whack in his technique. This was fun to watch Murphy jolt a much bigger man so noticeably.
***Spencer Long: I didn't get to see much of the burly offensive guard from Nebraska. He said after the practice that he surgically repaired knee (PCL/MCL) felt great and he had no issues at all. John Keim of ESPN.com and ESPN 980 noted a few observations about Long that he saw.
**Bashaud Breeland: The fourth round pick from Clemson was the draft pick and individual player that impressed me the most if I had to pick one. Breeland is physical, feisty and aggressive. Sure, he grabs his opponents jersey too much and he did it several times where he could absolutely get flagged, but he had no fear.
On the first 7-on-7 play of the first session, Breeland got a strong jam which initially stunned the receiver, but Breeland did not break up the short passing attempt. Still I like the strength and punch.
On another play, Breeland went up the sideline on a long overthrow from Tommy Rees. The play had virtually no chance as Breeland had perfect inside coverage with his head turned around to track the ball. He didn't grab or clutch. He glided with his man at least 35 yards or so down the field.
Breeland was beat on a terrific effort and catch late in the practice session after he very clearly grabbed and tugged on his target's shoulder. Still, it took a super human effort and great ball placement/catch for the play to be successful.
Breeland was pulling and tugging at jerseys again in the afternoon session getting beat by a tryout wide receiver for a nice catch. Breeland pounded the turf in frustration. Breeland also was beat initially by Ryan Grant on a great inside cut, but he quickly recovered. Breeland went over the back of Grant for a tomahawk chop breakup that probably was defensive pass interference, but I sure would love another look at it to be certain. It was a bang-bang play, and again, Breeland promises to be right up in the grill of anybody that goes against him. He'll draw some penalties, but he will do plenty of good things that will make you love him. His game is man-press and in-your-face.
I also liked how Breeland busted it on special teams punt coverage. On one play, he was the gunner and ran from the right side all the way to the far left sideline on a diagonal cross to get in position to make the play. Effort on special teams was an issue at times last year.
***Ryan Grant is going to be a lot better than some people think. I didn't see him do anything in the morning practice of note, but in the afternoon session, he stood out. He had a drop early that I saw, but then made a beautiful adjustment on a terrible throw from one of the quarterbacks (who were not very good). The catch was a twisting snare completely behind where Grant was going, earned the Tulane product plenty of on-field praise from the coaches.
We mentioned the battle with Breeland that he clearly won at least one phase of, but the highlight of the afternoon was Grant running a vertical route to about ten yards. He motioned to the post, stuck his foot in the dirt and broke to his right and the sideline so quickly that the defensive back completely fell down. Grant caught another off-target ball to complete the play. It was a thing of beauty.
I also saw Grant busting it on special teams punt coverage, drawing Jay Gruden to yell out "Yeah, Ryan Grant, yeah!" Gruden said he "plays like a 10-year veteran already."
***Lache Seastrunk: I was told by a few of my media friends that he dropped a pass in one drill early in practice. I didn't see it, but clearly that is one way Seastrunk can really shine. Seastrunk did impress me on one particular run which appeared to be an inside zone that he planted and cut to his left to avoid traffic. You could see the lateral speed and explosive athleticism as Seastrunk raced to the sideline and turned the corner.
Perhaps he bounces too much to the outside, but with his frame, he really shouldn't try to be a battering ram. His greatest attribute is his speed and explosive ability.
Seastrunk has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder based on his interview on ESPN 980 earlier this week, and a couple of minutes with him earlier today. That's OK, as long as he uses it positively.
**Ted Bolser: I saw him drop three passes in different drills. It can happen, but when you are behind Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul to begin with - you have to catch everything.
He did make a couple of nice catches after those early drops, but along with getting stun punched by Murphy on one blocking assignment, it is safe to say that Bolser had a tough session.
Late in the practice, he made a nice catch and held on while getting lassoed by former Washington Huskies defensive back, Sean Parker who we profiled earlier this week.
Another big drop in the afternoon practice while climbing the ladder over the middle of the field, and the lack of any block against Murphy (mentioned above) completed a tough day for Bolser.
**Zach Hocker : Unofficially, the rookie place kicker was five-of-six on field goals, missing from 50-yards out indoors in the morning practice session. He came back and nailed a 50-yard kick right after, straight down the middle with ease.
Hocker had no issue with a couple of practice kick-off attempts as he booted one into the deep middle of the end zone, and one completely thru the end zone. That's his best strength and Kai Forbath's area of weakness. Something to keep a close eye on.
**The Redskins signed veteran DE Frank Kearse, and college free agents CB Courney Bridget, S Ross Madison and CB Blake Sailors to contracts. They released NT Chris Davenport, TE Kevin Perry, QB Tommy Rees (Notre Dame) and in a somewhat surprising move, young veteran safety Jose Gumbs. Gumbs made the team last year after arriving in camp a few days in and was known for his ability to hit and play special teams. He did struggle a few times in space.
***As for the undrafted free agents, nose tackle Robert Thomas had a really strong bull rush to collapse the pocket late in practice.
RB Silas Redd showed some good wiggled and speed to the outside a few times, but early in practice, new running backs coach Randy Jordan yelled at him to "Stop, stop, stop!" because he ran an outside zone cone drill wrong. Redd, wasn't the first player to run it and coaches don't always take kindly to screwing the little stuff up.
One one play, I saw Anthony Brown from Eastern Kentucky (tryout) used a vicious spin move on another tryout player, DeAndre Williams from Florida Atlantic.
Receiver Lee Doss had a drop that I saw early in practice. Will Compton, who was on the Redskins practice squad most of last year was beat on a a pass play in the right flat.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com -- www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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