Washington Redskins OTAs: Latest Player Reports and Analysis
The Washington Redskins concluded Week 1 of organized team activities (OTAs) Thursday, and while it's too early to make any bold proclamations after a few non-contact practices in May, the storylines are still aplenty.
Let's dive into the key takeaways from Thursday's session at Redskins Park, which was open to the media.
DeSean Jackson Pulls Hamstring, Not Serious
The Redskins managed to stay relatively injury-free this week, albeit not without a scare from their newly-signed speedster DeSean Jackson.
Jackson pulled his hamstring during Thursday's practice, but he didn't seem to be overly concerned afterwards:
DeSean Jackson said his hamstring was "a little tight" but "no big deal." #Redskins— Chris Russell (@Russellmania980) May 29, 2014
Head coach Jay Gruden echoed Jackson's sentiments during his post-practice press conference:
Gruden said he doesn't think Jackson's pull is anything immediately serious.— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) May 29, 2014
Before the hamstring pull, ESPN 980's Chris Russell noted that Jackson made an over-the-shoulder grab in stride from Robert Griffin III and was also used on a reverse—a small sample size of things to come this fall.
RG3 Progressing, High-Fives All Around
Griffin's offseason will continue to be dominated by learning a new offense and building chemistry with his receivers, but it shouldn't be discounted that his own personal improvement as a quarterback is paramount to the Redskins' success in 2014.
Here's some of what ESPN.com's John Keim saw from RG3 as it relates to his new throwing mechanics:
Robert Griffin III worked on being more consistent with his mechanics in the offseason and there was a difference. The past two years his base was wider as the Redskins wanted to shorten the stride. He also got into a habit of holding the ball lower, leading to a longer windup when he threw.
But in practice Thursday, Griffin held the ball higher – at the top of the numbers. He also threw with a more narrow base. He likes doing this because he feels more free, giving him the ability to bounce the pocket a little better. Not every quarterback throws with the same base, much like not every hitter uses the same stance at the plate.
Griffin has always come across as a willing learner; it should come as little surprise that after a nightmare 2013, he's already working to change his game for the better.
Griffin is also fully committed to regaining his role as the unquestioned leader of the team. NFL Network's Jeff Darlington took notice of the 24-year-old's enthusiasm:
I've never seen someone slap hands with more teammates in a one-hour span than RG3 has done over the last hour. He's high five happy!— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) May 29, 2014
Last season Griffin's leadership was, at times, called into question and former head coach Mike Shanahan did very little to defend his quarterback. This offseason has acted as a clean slate for Griffin and it's evident that the joy of playing football is back.
Tanard Jackson, Phillip Thomas Impress
When the Redskins elected to not draft a safety earlier this month, it signaled their hope that someone from the current roster would play himself into a meaningful role once the regular season started.
Again, it's premature to assume that productive spring practices translate to regular-season success, but safeties Tanard Jackson and Phillip Thomas are two players to watch as the offseason rolls along.
Jackson has caught the eye of many at Redskins Park, including Gruden:
Gruden on S Tanard Jackson: "He doesn't look like he's been away for two years." Said he's in great shape and "has done a great job."— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) May 29, 2014
Also - the words of a source on Tanard Jackson after two days of OTA's and the last few weeks back at #Redskins Park is "Tanard is awesome."— Chris Russell (@Russellmania980) May 29, 2014
John Keim of ESPN.com detailed Jackson's road back to the NFL after previously being suspended by the league three times.
As for Thomas, the second-year player had his rookie season derailed by a torn Lisfranc ligament last preseason. He was full-go for OTAs this week and made some noise in Thursday's practice:
Veterans Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather are tentatively penciled-in as the starters, but Washington would benefit greatly if both Jackson and Thomas eventually emerged as reliable contributors in the secondary.
High Praise for Keenan Robinson
It's been long debated as to who will replace London Fletcher at starting inside linebacker in 2014.
In addition to re-signing Perry Riley this offseason, the Redskins also signed free agents Akeem Jordan and Darryl Sharpton to provide both depth and competition at the position.
The somewhat forgotten man, though, is Keenan Robinson.
Robinson, who missed all of last season due to a torn pectoral, was running with the first-team defense Thursday, along with Riley. He was also making the defensive calls, according to CSN Washington's Tarik El-Bashir.
Gruden spoke glowingly of Robinson after practice:
Gruden praises Keenan Robinson mentally and physically. "We have high hopes for Keenan....he's a guy on the field that really stands out"— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) May 29, 2014
It's a positive sign that Robinson is not only running with the starters but also is making the calls on defense. Talent has never been the issue with Robinson, health has. His familiarity working in defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's system gives him the inside track to winning the starting job.
Odds and Ends
Barry Cofield Recovering
Gruden confirmed that defensive tackle Barry Cofield underwent offseason hernia surgery, but he should be ready to go "at least by the start of training camp."
Jordan Reed Healthy
Gruden sang the praises of tight end Jordan Reed and also said the second-year player is in good health:
Gruden on TE Jordan Reed: "One of the more talented young TEs in the league." Said Reed's experienced no recent concussion-related problems.— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) May 29, 2014
Morgan Moses Signs
The Redskins announced the signing of third-round offensive tackle Morgan Moses Thursday via Redskins.com. Washington now has all eight members of its draft class under contract.
For those wondering how quickly Moses will be ready to contribute, Gruden didn't seem to be holding his breath:
Gruden reiterated that Morgan Moses is talented but has a ways to go before playing. No exact date on when he'll be ready.— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) May 29, 2014