Redskins in Richmond : Cleaning out the Notebook
by Chris Russell
Aug 06, 2014 -- 3:19pm


The Redskins and Patriots wrapped up three days of practice here in Richmond on Wednesday morning. It was a much shorter (thankfully) practice than the nearly three-hour marathon of Tuesday afternoon in the heat and humidity of Richmond in early August.

I need to  "clean out the notebook" and get to so many things that I want to get to, so away we go.

Jay Gruden declared Pierre Garcon, Ryan Clark and Phillip Thomas as OUT for Thursday night's preseason opener with the Patriots.

DeSean Jackson was hurt Wednesday morning early during the session with the Patriots when he was stepped on.

“DeSean got cleated today in a walkthrough and twisted his ankle just a hair. We’ll see how he does at rehab or treatment and all that. We’ll find out," Gruden told reporters.

I would be surprised if the Redskins would take a chance with Jackson, but I've seen things that have surprised me before. If it was just a cleating, he should be ok. If his ankle twisted in any way, it's not a risk that's worth the risk for me.

If Jackson does not play, a golden opportunity exists for veteran receiver Aldrick Robinson and for guys on the outside looking in, in my eyes. Players like Nick Williams and Cody Hoffman.

If the Redskins take six receivers (likely) and everyone is healthy, I believe it will be Jackson, Garcon, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Ryan Grant and at this point, probably Robinson. The problem with Robinson is he does not help you on special teams.

A guy with his speed really needs to be a part of punt or kick return and three special teams coordinators have determined that he can't help them there, even though they are desperate for a jolt. Not a good sign for Robinson.

Williams does nothing special, but at least can contribute potentially on special teams returns. Williams had nine kickoff returns and one punt return.

Hoffman is the only one of the three contenders that has any size. He is very raw and needs time. I would be stunned if he's on the 53-man roster.

That was the main story from Wednesday's joint session. On Tuesday, a very meaningful practice that went on and on.

A couple of big story-lines jumped out to me from my notes and memory, and there was a lot of action.

1. The Redskins defense was gashed in the red zone, by Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett. In fairness, most of the damage came without Clark on the field, and with Richard Crawford and Phillip Thomas sidelined.

Opposing offenses were at 63.33 percent in terms of conversions last year in the red area. That was up from 2012 and significantly up from 2011 (43.86 %).

The Redskins were terrific on third down defense last year, but struggled when teams attempted to convert on fourth down. That led to a good amount of that success.

Tuesday, 2nd year safety Bacarri Rambo had no answer for the Patriots criss-crosses on offense and was significantly late on several switches and coverage. It's not surprising that he got beat, but just how slow to react he was and the Patriots were attacking it relentlessly.

Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris talked about Rambo's "demons" on ESPN 980 last Saturday, but while I believe that meant his tackling consistency, it could have meant just about everything. The Redskins are in huge trouble if Rambo has to play, barring a dramatic improvement over the next few weeks.

2. I thought Chase Minnifield showed some nice coverage the few times that I was able to isolate on him. On one play, Minnifield broke up a pass with perfect timing on a bullet throw from Ryan Mallett.  Another play, featured Minnifield with good inside coverage on a long incomplete. Two plays, but hard not to notice the Virginia product.

As of now, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Bashaud Breeland, and Tracy Porter have to be considered locks. Do the Redskins go six corners or five? Richard Crawford was banged up Tuesday but was fine and told me after Wednesday's practice, he would be good to go. Porter seems like he is struggling, but he missed the entire off-season. EJ Biggers struggled at times on Tuesday while working as the number one slot corner. Biggers had a blown coverage on a wheel route that he was supposed to cover, run perfectly by Julian Edelman.

 The way I see it is this: Three players are battling  for a maximum of two spots. It could be just one spot if the Redskins want to go heavier at safety. My guess is they go with six corners and Minnifield gets one of the spots.

3. Robert Griffin III needs as many live reps as he can get Thursday night. Jay Gruden said today that his starters will play "probably about eight to ten plays, tops, maybe the quarter depending on my satisfaction.”

I say even if the Redskins score a touchdown on a eight or nine play drive to open the game, i would still have Griffin return for more. He needs to play against defenders that are allowed to blitz, tackle and knock him down.

He doesn't want to get rid of the football in practices and I understand practicing broken plays but they say that practice habits equal game habits. It's hard to turn the light switch off and on. He needs to get rid of the ball quicker.

Everybody knows it but certain numbers are glaring. Everybody can see it, but the reasons for it are complicated. According to, 23% of Griffin's drop-backs last at least 3.6 seconds, one of the highest percentages in the league in 2013.

I would have Griffin and the first team starters play about 15 snaps. They all need the work. Two offensive linemen have switched positions, and the wide receiver situation is murky because of injury. Griffin needs it, they all need it.

I've never bought into the popular theory that you can get hurt in a preseason game, so you need to protect guys. You can get hurt anywhere, but one thing you CAN NOT do - is equal game situations in practice when a quarterback wears a different jersey.

Pat Kirwan of CBS and SIRIUSXM NFL Radio was at Redskins camp on Monday for the first day of practice with the Redskins, but what he and Jim Miller told me on my radio show was more interesting.

Kirwan relayed a comparison of Dan Marino's quick release to that of Tom Brady and followed by saying "Robert (Griffin III) doesn't do that  (getting rid of the ball quickly). Robert keeps going, because that clock is not going off in his head  and he thinks there is an escape lane.  I'd put a buzzer on him and toot it loud and clear every three seconds."

Miller, a long-time quarterback and Kirwan's partner on SIRIUS XM,  said about Griffin "I still think he's unsettled.  Double clutching some things. Vice versa, when you see Kirk Cousins drop back, five steps, it's out of his hands. Seven steps, it's out of his hands. I think for Robert, he's still trying to find that quiet calm that he needs to be in the pocket."

Check out this play of the day from Tuesday, and  watch this sick move by Ryan Grant abusing a backup corner in Justin Green.

Chris Russell - -

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