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NTK: Emptying the notebook—Redskins’ Hall says adjustment to safety is almost complete

Aug 1, 2016, 4:24 AM EDT


RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 1, 10 days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.


Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:30; Jay Gruden press conference 2:45; Practice 3:00

—The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago. It will be 42 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 18; Final roster cut 33; Cowboys @ Redskins 48

Emptying the notebook from last week

A few tidbits I picked up last week that didn’t quite fit into any posts.

—I asked DeAngelo Hall how he was coming along in adjusting to playing safety. He rated himself at an eight on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being ready to step on the field against the Steelers. The veteran, starting his 13th year, said the he benefitted from playing some safety towards the end of last year.

—While Chris Thompson said he is ready for anything, he didn’t seem to believe that he is in line to be Matt Jones’ primary backup. He also didn’t have any idea if the team planned to bring in a veteran to fill that role. It sounds like Thompson will be the third down back again this year and he seems to be perfectly happy in that role

—Trent Murphy read a screen pass on Saturday and picked off Kirk Cousins’ throw. He said that he was happy to make a play from the defensive end spot to show the coaches he could be an impact player from there. His move from outside linebacker to defensive end has been somewhat under the radar, primarily because nobody really knows what to expect. We might get a solid hint in preseason games, it looks like Murphy is going to come out with a mindset that he has something to prove.

—One of the sleds that the defensive linemen hit every day broke. Chris Baker said that he popped the bolts on it, joking that all of the linemen were trying to break it so they wouldn’t have to deal with it any more. Baker acknowledged, however, that the broken bolts would be replaced and the sled would be as good as new when practice resumes on Monday.

—Back to the running back spot, Jones is going to be in the spotlight as he becomes the lead dog at the position but he isn’t feeling any pressure. “I’ve been through it before,” he told me after one practice. “Being the man, you’re the man, why have pressure? Just handle business like everybody is expecting you to do.” We will see how it works out.

Tandler Redskins on Twitter Instagram

Bashaud Breeland make a spectacular interception during practice on Saturday. Unlike the media, the Redskins can shoot pictures after the first 30 minutes or so. They caught the catch in this picture:

Love picks. #HTTR #LoveVA

A photo posted by Washington Redskins (@redskins) on

In case you missed it 

  1. colorofmyskinz - Aug 1, 2016 at 5:58 AM

    I am sure DHall is figuring out where to be on the field in coverage as a safety by now, as expected. The biggest question I have, is he ready to place and lay hits like a safety?? That seems to not be a part of his rating scale of what he expects, since the ones are not tackling until preseason. I am glad he feels that knowing where to be on the field feels good to him. However, there is a huge part of the position called “laying the wood” that he will not get to “test” until preseason. Hope he is comfortable knowing that he will be laying open field tackles on running backs gathering speed. I am not so sure about this side of the position for DHall. We will see.

    Chris Thompson is too small to be a number 2 back or press for the number one role. We have seen that every year he has tried to make it 16 games. He is a GREAT third down back. Outstanding hands and illusive. But challenge a number one back for the top spot and be a 3 down back? No way no how. Never happening. Just does not have the size or durability. A number one back has to physically wear defensive linemen and linebackers out. That will never happen from Thompson. That is Jones role and he will do it better than anyone on the team hands down. Jone will be a beast. And there will be another physical back that steps up to that number 2, not Thompson.

    Murphy will surprise most and Bake is a beast. Just my honest opinion.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 1, 2016 at 7:06 AM

      Maybe that’s partly why he only gave a rating of 8 out of 10? While open field tackling is a renewed area of emphasis for Hall, surely he’s done some of it as he now starts his 14th season.

      Because of Chris Thompson’s durability, the Redskins need a back-up third down back too. That role could be filled by Jones too, but I am sure 1-2 RBs will be on the practice squad too.

      Besides the special team specialists (i.e., K, H, P, LS, KR, PR), do all the other players participate in the Specials Teams drills or do only select players participate (i.e., I’m talking about positions like runners, gunners, jammers, up backs, etc.); if only a select few do, who are doing these drills (or if easier to provide who does not participate at all in Special Teams)?

    • 21indiscriminateThoughts - Aug 1, 2016 at 11:44 AM

      Hall said in an interview this summer/spring that last year during (I believe) the Dallas game that he had the revelation he could play the position after he was able to lay some big hits. In this regard he already played the position last year, so I feel this question has already been answered. Redskins saw what he could do last year and went ahead with the move this preseason.
      As for being too small, see Darren Sproles. If you look back to his time at Cincinnati, Jay Gruden likes to have a stable of RB’s with different toolsets and use them in varying roles. Having #1 RB as the work horse through 16 games is a rare thing in the NFL

    • bangkokben - Aug 1, 2016 at 11:49 AM

      DeAngelo Hall has come a long way from allowing Jake Delhome to carry him for a game clinching first down. He had no problem throwing his body around last year. What he lacked was the experience and taking the right angles. Furthermore the game is evolving and a free safety now needs to attack THE BALL in the air — not wait for the ball to get near the receiver before blowing him up separating the ball from the receiver. That is virtually illegal.

      • rtcwon - Aug 1, 2016 at 12:08 PM

        Exactly, the days of a safety “laying the wood” are gone. In the same interview (I think) Hall also said last year they prioritized learning the coverages. So only this spring did he start learning his run fits. Being in the right gap is much more important than making ESPN highlight hits.

    • John - Aug 1, 2016 at 12:09 PM

      D Hall : Looking for him at FS to get people in the right spot. That and to get after balls in the air. As far as laying the wood to people, that’s fine but to many folks try to make the big hit, then fail to wrap and put the back receiver, etc., on the ground. Alvin Walton used to wallop people but never finished…

      Thompson – Fine as a receiver and coming up with runs on draw plays but needs to be used sparingly as a runner. I look to see Robert Kelley or Pierre or another free agent back to fill in as the #2. Not Marshall. He has speed and size but that’s about it.

      Murphy – Makes a nice play in play in practice (no pads, no contact). Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. He will not be a beast by any measure. Regarding the D Line, there is depth with guys competing for spots but its a bunch of guys with average talent/ability, no stars or as I like to say, “Larry, Moe and everybody’s favorite, Curley”.

      • ET - Aug 1, 2016 at 1:08 PM

        You seem to have something personal against Murphy—you go out of your way to bash the kid. We get it, you don’t like him. At all.

        • John - Aug 1, 2016 at 4:15 PM

          Its not that I don’t like Murphy or “have an axe to grind”. I have a problem with folks thinking that he or some late round rookie or practice squad wannabe who to this point, especially in Murphy’s case has shown anything when given the opportunity, expect him or the others to somehow tear it up. Nothing wrong with enthusiasm but there needs to be a sense of reality.

  2. troylok - Aug 1, 2016 at 10:19 AM

    I can’t wait until we finally get to see the young running backs in a preseason game. Jones and Thompson can sit on the bench so the other guys can get more reps.

    I’m not worried about Hall’s skills at safety. I only worry about his ability to stay healthy.

    I like to hear some positive stuff about Murphy, but if the QB throws an interception on a screen pass, he made a mistake. Because of the chances of a pick six, QB’s have to be extra careful with screen passes (nod to Redskins-Raiders in Superbowl XVIII) and it sounds like Cousins wasn’t. Thumbs up Murphy, thumbs down Cousins.

    I think Breeland is going to have a good year.

    • bangkokben - Aug 1, 2016 at 12:00 PM

      Reading Keim’s analysis of the pick it appears that Cousins didn’t do anything wrong. Murphy didn’t follow the receiver which both he and Cousins knew was his role.

      [He read a screen play, knew he was in a good spot, then made a leaping, sort of twisting interception of quarterback Kirk Cousins that resulted in a pick-six.

      For Murphy, he read offensive tackle Trent Williams, and once Williams sprinted to the outside he knew a screen was coming. Ends are taught to then turn and run to the receiver on the play.

      “But I felt I was on the track between the quarterback and the receiver, so I stopped and read the QB at that point,” Murphy said. “It shows my instincts are still there and that I can make plays from that position. It also shows I’m more comfortable and getting familiar with the scheme and playing that position.”]

      It’s practice. No one is suppose to be extra careful. That’s ONE of the reasons Griff didn’t develop. He was always extra careful to not throw picks in practice.

    • rtcwon - Aug 1, 2016 at 12:11 PM

      Haha, I’m not worried about Jones’ ability to be a serviceable lead back or not fumble. I only worry about his ability to stay healthy.

  3. redskins12thman - Aug 1, 2016 at 4:00 PM

    Any practice session coverage today Rich?

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 1, 2016 at 4:49 PM

      I’m wondering if Lauvao was able to suit up.

  4. lezziemcdykerson - Aug 1, 2016 at 5:25 PM

    “The defense continued to look stout on Saturday, although DeSean Jackson continued to be its Achilles heel” …too soon Jake. Too soon.

  5. lezziemcdykerson - Aug 1, 2016 at 5:28 PM

    Hey Rich are we running the Oklahoma in practice? He didn’t refer to it by name but I know it was a Cinci staple Gruden could’ve brought with him.

    “The coaches also instituted some 1-on-1 drills in which one player tried to get past a tackler in his way. Houston Bates and Martrell Spaight had the biggest collision of the bunch, falling to the ground, something that happened often on the slippery field.” Archives

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