WASHINGTON -- Redskins coach Jay Gruden rewarded his players by canceling the final day of mini-camp on Thursday.
The team had been going pretty hard for four weeks, with three weeks of Organized Team Activities (OTA's) followed by a veterans mandatory mini-camp this week. The temperatures were in the 90's as the team tried to simulate training camp conditions. Practices took place in the early morning, followed by meetings and walk-throughs in the afternoon.
A new energy
One thing that stood out regarding the new coaching staff is that they are very involved. I'm not saying the previous staff wasn't, but you can tell the energy and enthusiasm on the field, beginning with Jay Gruden. He has been throwing passes, covering wide receivers and chasing quarterbacks. Players love i,t and I think they relate to that in a way that is beneficial.
One of the concerns I would think going into camp is the health of newly acquired defensive end Jason Hatcher. He might miss six weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee. That is definitely cause for concern, being that he is 32-years-old and just signed a four-year free agent contract after being lured away from the Dallas Cowboys.
The defensive side of the football had a pretty good camp this week. Linebacker Keenan Robinson has returned from injury and is calling the plays on defense, replacing London Fletcher. Robinson earned high praise from the coaching staff. Second-year cornerback David Amerson has played well and looks much improved. Linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough had at least three interceptions this week, during the time media was allowed to watch. Veteran safety Ryan Clark has returned this offseason and has already made his mark on and off the field. He has been a very vocal leader, constantly talking to guys on the field and coaching them into the right positions. DeAngelo Hall was also flying around the field this week making plays.
There is no question that the potential is there for the offense to be very dangerous. Robert Griffin III looks to be as explosive as he was during his rookie year. Keep in mind that the team wasn't wearing pads, but you can see he is moving better without the knee brace. The return of tight end Jordan Reed from a concussion, the additions of wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, and the continued improvement of Robert Griffin III should make the offense formidable. Don't forget about the running back either. When asked the most dangerous person on the Redskins offense, Griffin tabbed Alfred Morris.
Wide Receiver Andre Roberts, who was signed away from Arizona this offseason, has been taking reps at punt and kick returner with the first team.
Players are now on their own between now and training camp in Richmond. Most will take a week or two off and go on vacation with their families before resuming their workouts.
Coach Gruden says he will stay in town however, having just bought a house in the area. He said he also wants to stay and make sure training camp is taken care of and ready.
"I'm a little paranoid in that regard, but I'll try and get away and go see my new grandkid in Tampa and go from there," he said.
As far as wrapping up his first off season program as a head coach, Gruden seems to be pretty happy.
"It was good to get everybody in the building and everybody working together, and I think the thing that I've been most impressed with is I think with the locker room in general - how they're getting along and how they're playing together, working together, you see them in the weight room working out together. We haven't had any bickering or any arguing or any fighting so to speak. But overall I feel like the team together is coming along great and the unity is where it needs to be at this point, and then we when come back to training camp with the knowledge of the system and people knowing one another, hopefully we can take off from there."
Have a good month and I will see you in Richmond on July 24.
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