Ashburn, VA – Saturday was fan appreciation day and the 2012 Washington Redskins put on a show, in more ways than one. Before players walked onto the field, ‘Skins fans were asked to chant “RG3,” and they did so, but it wasn’t very lively. Not until their beloved Quarterback was spotted walking onto the field. Throughout the entire practice there was sporadic chants of “RG3.” It happened so often that a few Redskins’ players decided to join in and chant “RG3″ during warm-ups, putting a big smile on Robert Griffin III’s face. It was hot and tempers flared, as two fights broke out during camp. We’ll talk about what Niles Paul had to say and more, below in our Practice Notes.
- Robert Griffin III is something special. The focus for Griffin seemed to be intermediate and goal line drills during 11 on 11. While at times, Griffin can be off with his passes, he showed some excellent zip and made decisive decisions. Griffin’s first throw during 11 on 11 was a quick in route to Leonard Hankerson. Griffin did a great job attempting to lead Hankerson, but the ball was unfortunately dropped. This is all about timing and ball placement. I don’t think Hankerson expected Griffin to lead him, but this is an attribute that Griffin is good at. On the next play, Griffin took a QB sweep for what would have been a very long touchdown. Griffin successfully hit Hankerson on his next throw, then ended his drive with another long run that would have been a touchdown. It should be noted, both QB sweeps were ran on the right side of the offensive line behind right tackle Tyler Polumbus. Timing and familiarity with his receivers are needed in order for a fade route to be run successfully. Griffin overthrew a few, but connected with Garcon and Briscoe on the left side of the endzone. Griffin’s skill-set will be maximized in the red zone, as he made a few explosive plays with his feet, even faking London Fletcher out for a touchdown. Although Fletcher thought Griffin stepped out of bounds, the referee that was present called it a touchdown, and Griffin jokingly said, “Good call, ref.” He connected a few times with Santana Moss on in routes from the slot receiver position. Consistently being stalled in the red zone should be a thing of the past for Washington with Griffin at helm.
- Evan Royster started with the first team offense as he’s been doing since the start of camp. During walk-through, Roy Helu Jr. started at tailback, but they worked primarily in “pistol” offense, which could be renamed the “Helu Package.”
- DeAngelo Hall’s full-time gig is in slot with Josh Wilson and Cedric Griffin starting on the outside. Kevin Barnes has looked good, and could trump Griffin as the starter opposite of Wilson.
- I don’t remember Rex Grossoman completing one pass during Saturday’s practice. Several of his throws were batted down by Lorenzo Alexander and Stephen Bowen. Not to mention, every throw that wasn’t batted was thrown into coverage. Grossman’s first pass during 11 on 11′s was nearly intercepted by London Fletcher, who dropped into coverage. Tanard Jackson, Bryan Kehl, and Cedric Griffin also go their hands on a few of Grossman’s passes.
- Tempers flared during 11 0n 11′s involving several players. Two scuffles broke out, back to back, and the last scuffle ended with Niles Paul laying a few punches on Markus White. Head coach, Mike Shanahan huddled the team up after the second fight and calmed the players down. Niles Paul spoke to the media assembled after practice saying “I should have kept my poise.” When asked about what Mike Shanahan said, Niles said “Coach let us know that we need to keep our poise and that if I lose it again, I’ll lose a couple games.”
- Brian Orakpo vs Trent Williams is hands down the best battle in camp.
- Dezmon Briscoe is a physically imposing player and could be the team’s redzone target.
- Leonard Hankerson continues to make a strong case as Washington’s starting receiver opposite of Pierre Garcon. Both receivers complement each other well.
- For a rookie QB, Kirk Cousins looks good. He put on a better display than Rex Grossman Saturday. Timing and intermediate routes are two things Cousins excels at.
- It’s a tight competition between Aldrick Robinson and Brandon Banks. Both players have what I call “lazy hands,” meaning they allow the ball into their body instead of attacking it. However, these guys are big play receivers and it’s going to come down to consistency and durability. Aldrick Robinson is a poor mans DeSean Jackson, in my opinion. Banks obviously has a chip on his shoulder because of his size and the disappointing season he had in 2011.
- Sav Rocca is a pro bowl caliber punter. He should have made it last season and he’ll be in contention for it again this season. I had the privilege to stand next former Redskin Trevor Matich and he broke down every element of Sav Rocca’s game. He talked about the slight nudge Rocca makes automatically every kick as he directs his punts. Matich was just enamored with the hang-time and precision of Rocc’s kicks.
- Yes, kickers are people too, and another good camp battle is Graham Gano vs Neil Rackers. Only one kick was missed Saturday, which was by Gano on a short kick about 38 yards. Practice ended with the entire team making noise to simulate pressure kicks, but for Chris Baker (who I might add is having a great camp) noise wasn’t enough. On the last kick of practice, while the team made noise, Chris Baker stood in front of the kicker (can’t recall who) and lifted up his shirt showing off his massive stomach. Talk about pressure!