FOR GRUDEN, ALL SYSTEMS GO
Coach encouraged after grueling training camp
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?
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.