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Need to Know: How significant is Redskins rookie camp?

May 15, 2016, 5:28 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 15, nine days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.


—The Redskins last played a game 126 days ago. It will be 120 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 9; Redskins training camp starts 74; Preseason opener @ Falcons 89

Hot topics

—I enjoyed having a discussion with JP and Tarik about the Redskins the other day. One of the things we hit on was the popular perception that Kirk Cousins was bad in the first half of the season. I say it was more like six and a half games, up until halftime of the Bucs game in Week 7. And even during his “bad” stretch he completed 85 percent of his passes against the Rams and led a late drive for a comeback win over the Eagles. He’s far from elite but 75% of the QBs in the league would love to have the numbers Cousins put up in, say, the Jets game as their worst performance of the year.

—Cousins’ passer rating in that game was 57.9, his lowest of the season. In the 2015 regular and post season quarterbacks threw at least 20 passes in a game and had a passer rating of lower than 57.9 a total of 41 times. Among them were Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Joe Flacco. Passer rating is not the end all of rating quarterbacks’ performances but it is at least an indicator.

—I enjoy watching rookie minicamp but it’s hard to determine a whole lot from practices like these. It’s not so much that they are rookies, although the presence of the tryout players can muddle what things look like. It more that they are practicing in helmets and shorts. In case you’re wondering, that’s not football. It’s particularly hard to figure out what the capabilities of linemen are on both sides of the ball. And, really, how much can you tell about a running back if you can’t see how he reacts to contact? You get the idea. I was there, I observed and passed along some of my observations but don’t look for any sort of lasting significance.

—So you get down to stuff like this at rookie minicamp. I’m not taking a shot at my CSN Philly colleague John Clark here because four years ago I was there along with the rest of the DC media, hyperventilating over virtually every move made by the new rookie QB, also the second overall pick in the draft. But there is really nothing remarkable about Carson Wentz dodging “pressure” from one assistant coach and throwing to another assistant coach who is standing still.

Again, I’m not taking a shot here. I could well post a video of Josh Doctson making a nice catch against a defender who has zero chance of making the roster even for training camp. It’s fun, it’s harmless, but don’t read too much into it.

—How good can Morgan Moses be? Perhaps he can be a test case for the importance of the offseason program. Last year he didn’t participate at all after suffering a Lisfranc injury near the end of his rookie 2014 season. A week into camp he was inserted into the starting job when they moved Brandon Scherff to guard. Moses was solid in run blocking, although like everyone on that unit he needs to get better. Per Pro Football Focus nobody on the team gave up more than the five sacks Moses was charged with. He did improve as the year went on, however, giving up four in the first 10 games and only one in the last six. Will he be better in 2016 after a full, healthy offseason? We will find out.


In case you missed it 

  1. redskins12thman - May 15, 2016 at 6:31 AM

    Thank you for these specific insights. I would take your point a step further and contend that not only rookie camp, but the entire off-season team activities after FA signings and the draft — i.e., the programs, workouts, full-team minicamps, and even pre-season games — do not indicate to fans whether the Redskins will play well or not during the regular season. I’ve seen so many “solid” pre-seasons turn into a flop of a regular season that I’ve lost count.

    In the preseason, we won’t be able to tell how well the o-line and d-line will play when it counts, especially with regard to running the football, so we have to wait until September 12th to get our first true glimpse.

    I’m intrigued by the off-season to see who makes and does not make the 53 member opening day roster and the 10 member practice squad. By the players he brings in, Scot McCloughan makes it a real competitive environment, which increases my interest and helps keep veterans on their toes, which is all for the better.

    I also agree with your point that players can improve over the course of the season too, especially those working with great coaches such as Bill Callahan.

    Do you think the injury history and lack of NFL starts at the safety position for the players being considered for free and strong safety (I think it is 23 games for the entire group) is potentially an issue for the Redskins? McCloughan has passed on veterans here (e.g., Antrel Rolle) so I presume he is okay with it.

    • Trey Gregory - May 16, 2016 at 4:11 AM

      Let’s not get carried away. You can tell a lot more about the team once they get into camp. There’s a lot we can start to figure out with pads and full practices. And even the pre season. Not wether they win or lose the pre season game. But you can watch individual players and tell a lot about them. Remember when RG3 was the starting QB last year until after the second pre season game?

      I agre that OTAs, rookie camp, and mini cal is harder. But people who know what they’re looking for can tell a lot. And I would hope so, because those are what the coaches base cuts off of.

      • redskins12thman - May 16, 2016 at 6:03 AM

        I think we agree.

        Who makes and does not make the 53 member opening day roster and the 10 member practice squad — concur there is visibility and that is interesting to watch

        Whether the team has improved enough to win the types of games it lost the prior year and how well the o-line and d-line will play when it counts; we have to wait until September 12th to get our first true glimpse — I’ve seen so many promising pre-seasons turn out to be everything from really poor to amazing regular seasons and I’ve seen poor-to-average pre-seasons turn out to be really poor to amazing regular seasons.

        After last pre-season, I expected Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed and the rookie class to do well but not close to how they they ended up playing. I also expected the Redskins rushing attack and defense to do much better than we witnessed; those were a big disappointment.

        • troylok - May 16, 2016 at 1:43 PM

          I don’t think the preseason is about winning games or even looking good. I don’t think it is about putting a player in the best position to succeed. Preseason is about giving players repetitions, and putting them in a position so their abilities can be evaluated. For instance, I’d put Matt Jones in a few circumstances, like running east-to-west, where defenders can swat at the ball. Gruden wants to be sure that Jones has been cured of fumblistis. He might want to see how Doctson does in the end zone going up for a jump ball with NFL caliber athletes fighting him for the ball. I guess what I am saying is the preseason is about players who can flash ability and not so much about the score. Call me a football junkie, but that is what makes the preseason interesting to me. There is always that guy who no one saw coming.

        • Trey Gregory - May 16, 2016 at 2:28 PM

          Yes of course the competition is watered down in preseason games and the outcome of the game is meaningless. It’s not an indication as to how the season will go.

          What I’m saying is that you can focus on a particular player and evaluate where they are. And Coaches (or those lucky enough to be able to attend some of the camps open to the public) can do the same once they put pads on.

          I’m not necessarily saying evaluate the team as an entire unit. But Ioannidis. He’s the one guy I’m most interested in this offseason. Our Dline could be better than I thought if he can contribute. So we can watch his burst off the line, how he sheds blocks, if he gets pushed around, what he does with his hands, if he can both 2 gap and 1 gap, etc., etc.,

          Or Doctson. How does he react when NFL corners bump him off the line? How crisp are his routs? Can he block? Is he picking up the offense? Etc., etc.

          Matt Jones is the offensive player I’m mostly interested in. Is he consistently running with his pads lower? Does he keep both hands on the ball? Is he finding the holes? Add Keith Marshall to that too. I don’t have much expectation for him. But if he manages to excel and make the team, then our run game may not be so bad.

          And, of course, there’s the left guard and center ongoing saga. However that shakes out could really make or break the season.

          Also Galette and Fuller. If they both return to full speed then that tells us a lot. Practice should give us a glimpse at their recovery progress.

          Understanding where individual players stand in all of those areas does help to determine how successful this team
          might be. We learned Crowder was a stud in camp last year. If we learn that about Ioannidis, Long breaks out and found his calling at center, Lavau is back at full health, and Jones corrected his flaws. Then yes, we can say this team should be competitive. Of course they still have to play. But it’s a way to have realistic expectations in my opinion.

      • lezziemcdykerson - May 16, 2016 at 8:11 PM

        I went to skins camp and saw RGIII (I believe ’13 maybe ’14) and I went to work the next day like “He had great touch on the ball! He’s gonna be fine this year, he really looked like a QB not so much a freak of nature that can throw. Thought he had worked on his mechanics didn’t look so rushed or unpolished” yeah.. 3-13 or 4-12 And Santana looked GREAT they had him on special teams but he also was still very quick. Gone the next year, which wasn’t terribly surprising but, goes to show camp is just camp. 7 on 7 is just 7 on 7. Ryan Kerrigan does have the largest neck on the team.

        • Trey Gregory - May 17, 2016 at 12:02 AM

          So maybe you don’t have a good eye for talent ;) Not to mention the team around those guys was horrendous in 2013 and 2014. Absolutely atrocious.

          I think you’re missing my point but I don’t really know how else to explain it. Obviously we won’t know exactly how good they are until they play real NFL teams. But there are pieces we can put together in camp to help give us an indication. It’s nuanced and technical stuff. You also have to completely take the fan goggles off. But there are things we can gather.

          Maybe this will work as an example: say Junior Galette blows up Trent Williams 9 out of 10 times and gets to the point where he could have got a sack if he wasn’t forced to back off: that’s a positive sign that his explosiveness is back. But say Williams wins 9 out of 10 times: then we may need to temper expectations about how well Junior is reviving from his injury.

        • lezziemcdykerson - May 17, 2016 at 12:39 AM

          I’m not sure there was a point to get. Just sharing a memory where I got carried away, maybe projected a little- lot, with watching RGIII work the red zone in 7 on 7. I agree they were scrubs but they were my scrubs. Trent had a cast he was the only autograph I wanted but he said he couldn’t with his hand in a club. Kerrigan has a huge neck, that was worth stating again.

  2. wvredskins - May 15, 2016 at 6:46 AM

    I see the o-line taking big strides this year in the run game. That is something that the coaches and company have to be putting their focus on this offseason. The pass blocking was solid due to part of kirk making quick decisions and getting the ball out on time. Just imagine how much better we could be if we had a running game. I’m hoping Matt Jones can take this opportunity and run with it and would really be happy if marshall could sprinkle in explosion plays. I think that is key for us to take that next step offensively. Im just hoping the o-line opens up better running lanes then what they did last year. The defense looks like they are going to be better. How much better well that is to be determined but with the additions of norman and Cravens and possibly even Stephen we are headed in the right direction! Hail!

  3. colorofmyskinz - May 15, 2016 at 6:55 AM

    Any injury reports or updates? One I am very curious about is Niles Paul. Was he able to recover from that horrific ankle dissociation/fracture? I know you have mentioned May 24th in the past for updates. But has anyone in the building at least walked past him and see him either walk without a limp, jump and look normal, or jog to the car??

    Just wonder if he is truly a potential TE threat or hopeful depth. He is probably the most critical recovery we need.

    • Rich Tandler - May 15, 2016 at 9:11 AM

      No injury updates from Gruden. Focus was on rookies.

      • colorofmyskinz - May 15, 2016 at 9:40 AM

        I understand focus on rookies. But no one has even had a siting of him running to shower or even an athletic manuver to make it to the food buffet? Lol

  4. zatoichi7 - May 15, 2016 at 9:50 AM

    curious if moses was also the most penalized o-lineman. sure seemed like it to me.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 15, 2016 at 10:14 AM

      There’s a spreadsheet for that…

    • redskins12thman - May 15, 2016 at 10:33 AM

      I believe you are correct. I believe Moses was 2nd on the team with 9 penalties. The Redskins with three or more penalties in 2015 I think are:

      Jordan Reed (TE), 11
      Morgan Moses (OT), 9
      Trent Williams (OT), 6
      Kirk Cousins (QB), 6
      Bashaud Breeland (DB), 4
      Chris Baker (DT), 4
      Trenton Robinson (DB), 3
      Pierre Garcon (WR), 3
      Will Blackmon (DB), 3
      Ricky Jean-Francois (DT), 3
      Ryan Grant (WR), 3
      Keenan Robinson (LB), 3

      For the amount of time they played, Trenton Robinson (7 starts), Keenan Robinson (8 starts) and Ryan Grant (11 games with receptions) were high.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 15, 2016 at 11:39 AM

        And is it possible that Brandon Scherff had zero?

        I don’t see him in the NFL penalties worksheet.

        • redskins12thman - May 15, 2016 at 11:56 AM

          He had 2, which is incredible for a rookie who started and played as much as he did.

      • lezziemcdykerson - May 16, 2016 at 8:14 PM

        The surprising absence of D Hall who is normally good for a PI or two a game as well as PF for jawing. This is why I like him at safety. “Less” responsibility

  5. kenlinkins - May 15, 2016 at 9:50 AM

    For about half of these guys at rookie camp it will be the first time in their lives they were not the best player on the field. Pee-Wee football to Jr. HS, to High School and even college, these guys were always the top players and had a place on the team locked up. Today, for the first time in their lives they will be told they do not have the talent level to play. I do hope they all can handle that well and have a Plan B as back up as most of them will soon be the new best players on their local flag football teams. Good luck to all and may your dream of playing in the NFL continue and if not, welcome to the real world and may you find blessings to enrich your life.

  6. Mr.moneylover - May 15, 2016 at 10:50 AM

    I told y’all redskins like RB mack brown I wouldn’t be surprise if he’s the backup to matt Jones and have RB Keith Marshall as the third running back…they might end up keeping 4 RBs because of Chris Thompson injury pass or decide to trade Chris Thompson and keep Keith Marshall… I think matt jones,mack brown, and Keith Marshall will be a solid three punch combo because mack brown knows how to break tackles I’m scared they might release Keith Marshall before even giving him a chance to show what he can do because I heard he got a hamstring injury in Friday practice

    • bangkokben - May 15, 2016 at 1:35 PM

      They’re not releasing a draft pick over a hamstring injury. There’s an investment there. He’ll get most of — if not all of — training camp to make the team.

    • Trey Gregory - May 16, 2016 at 2:37 PM

      Mack Brown knows how to break tackles based on what? College? This isn’t the SEC. As far as I can’t tell he’s been to two NFL team’s camps and they both cut him. Can you say camp body? They’re not going to cut a guy who was very productive last year (Chris Thompson) and not bring in a proven vet like Pierre Thomas so they can have and UFA and 7th round draft pick who have never even taken a real NFL snap. I know the college hype train is intreating. But don’t get sucked in.

  7. Mr.moneylover - May 15, 2016 at 10:58 AM

    Well its good news that they will get more info soon about kyshoen Jarrett injury so they can make a final decision on what they want to do with him for the season… I’m hoping he can bounce back knowing the struggle he and his family went threw that he had to take care of this disabled brother while his mom worked 2 jobs…I’m really hoping for kyshoen Jarrett to get threw this and play the game he love while bein able to take care of his family

    • redskins12thman - May 15, 2016 at 11:12 AM

      I hope Kyshoen Jarrett makes a comeback too, but I don’t want to rush him back until he is ready. With the injury history of vevery veteran safety on the team, we need the young guns ready to play at a moment’s notice.

      Starting this season off on the PUP list could make the most sense for Jarrett.

      • bangkokben - May 15, 2016 at 1:37 PM

        I doubt “rushing him back” will be an issue — the guy has little use of one of his arms. As soon as he gets use back, he’ll have rebuild the muscle.

      • Mr.moneylover - May 15, 2016 at 8:43 PM

        They not gonna rush him back…he’s actually lost his muscle he’s skinny now and will have to regain his muscle before getting clear to play…they most likely will have him sit out this season… They wanna take the right steps…its possible he won’t play football again

  8. mtskins - May 15, 2016 at 12:25 PM

    Glad the numbers for Cousins are better than what I thought for the the first half of the year. That first game against the Giants on Thursday night makes me cringe even now. Certainly a different story the second time around. Hoping the full set of reps in the off season leads to even greater things.

    • bangkokben - May 15, 2016 at 1:48 PM

      Numbers sometimes can simply be numbers. Griffin actually had quite good numbers for 2013 compared to perception. It doesn’t necessarily mean perception was wrong though. What’s important is whether the team is competitive in games and if they aren’t competitive, what are the main factors? The numbers I like the most are how Cousins did on 3rd down and how he did in the red zone. These are the critical times and these numbers are good. 5th in the NFL on 3rd down and 3rd in the red zone.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 15, 2016 at 2:36 PM

        I bet having Josh Doctson on the team helps Cousins with red zone efficiency even more.

  9. Skulb - May 15, 2016 at 6:06 PM

    This is what I’ve been saying about Cousins. His worst last year was average, yet people talk as if he was the worst QB in the history of the Universe. I guess average just wasn’t good enough to silence the know-nothings though.

  10. Mr.moneylover - May 15, 2016 at 8:39 PM

    I think josh doctson will start off as a red zone threat but also get used as a vertical threat at times…josh doctson said he can’t run the routes full speed he said he was going 75-80 now because he’s just getting use to the playbook but by training camp he should be able to run the routes 90% at full speed…if jay gruden is happy now he should definitely be happy by training camp when kirk cousins will be throwing him passes instead of rookies Archives

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