Coach en­cour­aged af­ter gru­el­ing train­ing camp

Baltimore Sun - - NFL - By Ka­reem Copeland

RICHMOND, Va. — Af­ter 12 gru­el­ing prac­tices and seven walk-throughs in the swel­ter­ing heat, the Washington Red­skins are done with train­ing camp. The ses­sion span­ning two and a half weeks con­cluded Sun­day with a fi­nal morn­ing prac­tice be­fore the team headed back to Ashburn on Mon­day.

“I think it went good,” Coach Jay Gru­den said. “We ac­com­plished what we wanted to. We’ve had some good days and we’ve had some sloppy days, as most teams do this time of year. Over­all, I think we’ve got a good look at a lot of guys, and that’s the in­tent of train­ing camp - to get your sys­tem in­stalled and then watch these guys progress, watch these guys play and just con­tinue to add to our eval­u­a­tion process. We’ve done a good job so far. Still a lot of time left for these guys to show what they can do and put some days to­gether and try to fight to make this foot­ball team.”

Left side in limbo

The con­clu­sion of train­ing camp brought no clar­ity to the left side of the of­fen­sive line. The Trent Williams hold­out has turned an of­fen­sive strength into a gi­ant ques­tion mark. Geron Chris­tian, the 2018 third-round pick, worked as the first-team left tackle af­ter re­turn­ing from MCL tear that put him on in­jured re­serve to end his rookie sea­son. In a per­fect world, the coach­ing staff would pre­fer to have an­other year of de­vel­op­ment for the ath­letic-yetraw line­man, but the ab­sence of Williams has thrust him into the mid­dle of a com­pe­ti­tion for the start­ing job.

That com­pe­ti­tion is with Don­ald Penn , the 13th-year vet­eran that was ba­si­cally signed off the street less than two weeks ago. Penn has a his­tory of suc­cess in the league with three Pro Bowls and 174 ca­reer starts, but he’s 36 years old and com­ing off a groin in­jury.

The left guard po­si­tion also re­mains un­set­tled. For­mer No. 9 over­all pick Ereck Flow­ers was signed to switch from tackle, which did not go well in his first four years in the league. There’s power in his 6-foot-6, 330-pound frame, but things hap­pen fast on the in­side, and he has a ten­dency to give up lever­age. The pref­er­ence is for him to win the job con­sid­er­ing the team gave him $1.5 mil­lion in guar­an­teed money.

Wes Marin also brings power to the po­si­tion, but he’s just a rookie and Flow­ers got the ma­jor­ity of snaps in the first pre­sea­son game. Team­mates and coaches have raved about Martin, but Flow­ers will get the edge if things are con­sid­ered equal.

The line that was a strength with Trent Williams has turned into a con­cern on the left side, par­tic­u­larly if Washington starts rookie quar­ter­back Dwayne Hask­ins .

“We’ve got a lot of new guys right now,” cen­ter Chase Roul­lier said. “We’re start­ing to click to­gether as an of­fense. That takes a lit­tle bit of time, and I think we’re def­i­nitely get­ting there… . We are in a good place al­ready, but it’s a con­tin­u­ing ef­fort… . You can al­ways get more and more com­fort­able with the guy next to you… . It’s some­thing that just takes more and more reps, takes a lit­tle bit of time.”

Same with QB

Gru­den said he doesn’t have a bet­ter feel for who could start at quar­ter­back against the Philadelph­ia Ea­gles in Week 1 than he did be­fore camp started. That’s not much of a sur­prise as no one in the group has sep­a­rated from the pack.

Hask­ins is a clas­sic rookie, try­ing to get down the in­tri­cate de­tails of play­ing the po­si­tion. There’s no ques­tion about his arm strength; he’s the most phys­i­cally blessed quar­ter­back on the ros­ter. He has the abil­ity to make throws oth­ers can­not. The is­sue is get­ting all the pre-snap func­tions down and be­ing a lit­tle more ac­cu­rate.

Case Keenum was the most con­sis­tent in camp, but he was not bril­liant. He didn’t make the most splash plays, though he did throw a 46-yard touch­down in the first ex­hi­bi­tion game. His strength was lim­it­ing turnovers, which could work for a team that went 6-3 with Alex Smith play­ing smart­but-not-spec­tac­u­lar foot­ball.

Colt Mc­Coy is the Gru­den fa­vorite in his fifth year in the sys­tem. He knows all the de­tails of the scheme and op­er­ates with ef­fi­ciency. The is­sue is that Mc­Coy re­mains a bit of a gun­slinger. He made the most splashy plays in camp, but he would also turn the ball over. This is a team that can’t rack up the turnovers and ex­pect to win.

Keenum came out of camp as the safest choice, but is that what Gru­den wants?

Smaller com­pe­ti­tions

Camp showed us that there will be some de­ci­sions to be made in terms of the num­bers games at cer­tain po­si­tions. There’s tal­ent and depth in places, but ev­ery­one can’t make the 53-man ros­ter.

At cor­ner­back, the emer­gence of sev­enth-round pick Jimmy More­land gives Gru­den and com­pany a de­ci­sion to be made. The two out­side starters are Josh Nor­man and Quin­ton Dun­bar, but the play­mak­ing More­land has pushed Fabian Moreau for the slot corner spot. Those four are locks to make the ros­ter. So is there room for Do­minique Rodgers-Cro­mar­tie , Greg Stro­man, Danny John­son and Ado­nis Alexan­der? His­tory tells us only six cor­ner­backs are likely to make the fi­nal 53.

Reed is ready

The most pos­i­tive thing com­ing out of camp was the daily show Jor­dan Reed put on. He’s fully healthy and looks like the player who nearly reached 1,000 yards and had 11 touch­downs in 2015. Reed is the most ver­sa­tile of­fen­sive weapon the Red­skins have, and his abil­ity makes life in­fin­itely eas­ier for which­ever quar­ter­back wins the job.

“I wanted to get bet­ter ev­ery day, show my­self that I’m healthy and can prac­tice mul­ti­ple days in a row and I can com­pete with the best of them,” Reed said. “I def­i­nitely feel good. Def­i­nitely feels dif­fer­ent from last year, the way guys are guard­ing me. The type of sepa­ra­tion I’m get­ting. It just feels a lot bet­ter. This is best I’ve felt in the


Red­skins quar­ter­back Colt Mc­Coy, back, and coach Jay Gru­den, right, par­tic­i­pate in the first day of train­ing camp in Richmond, Va., on July 25.

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