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Need to Know: Redskins rookie Cravens has a lot to learn

Aug 2, 2016, 6:08 AM EDT

Cravens minicamp AP

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 2, nine days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

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

—The Redskins last played a game 205 days ago. It will be 41 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 17; Final roster cut 32; Cowboys @ Redskins 47

Read and react—Jay Gruden

Reading some segments of Gruden’s press conference and reacting to them.

“Right now we need [Su’a Cravens] to learn the system – his run fits obviously, his pass drops. His man-coverage skills are pretty good but he still can work on that. He’s learning. He’s a work-in-progress like all these young players are, like everybody is, like I am. So we’re just going to keep practicing, that’s what we’re out here for.”

I think that a lot of fans are too anxious to see Cravens accomplish great things. Sure he got a couple of takeaways in practice last week but he still has a lot to learn. It’s hard enough for a rookie to learn one position; for Cravens to reach his peak effectiveness it probably will take him at least several games into the regular season, possibly more. They aren’t going to want to throw him into positions where he isn’t comfortable. Look for him to get a role that increases as the season goes on and he learns more positions.

“I think [Will Blackmon] had a couple really good days, really. I’ve been really impressed with Will. His reaction time has been outstanding and he’s got his hands on some balls.”

I was surprised this spring when Blackmon said that he had never played safety before with the exception of a snap here and there over his nine years in the NFL. He has been doing a good job in camp but I will be interested to see how he does when they start playing against guys in the other colored jerseys. I’ve been calling him a lock to make the 53-man roster and he probably is but

Niles [Paul] came back a little quicker [from the ankle injury he suffered last August] than we anticipated. We weren’t sure how Niles was going to come back from his injury. We had to protect ourselves and Vernon [Davis] was staring us right in our face and we grabbed him.”

I had not heard that Davis was signed as insurance against Paul not making a complete recovery from the ankle injury that his doctors said was one of the worst he’s ever seen. They also signed Logan Paulsen while Paul was still a question mark. So they wound up with four (so far) healthy tight ends. There are scenarios for all four of the to make the roster but it’s not a given.

“[CB Greg Toler] has been the ‘forgotten man,’ in fact I forgot to mention him the other day when we were talking about corners. He’s been outstanding out here. You know, he keeps showing up and making plays. Had a big interception yesterday or two days ago and a veteran guy who knows routes and can run still.”

Toler has made a few plays out there. I’m still not sure how the player who was signed 10 days before Josh Norman unexpectedly became a free agent makes the roster. They will keep a maximum of five cornerbacks. Toler is clearly behind Norman, Bashaud Breeland, and draft pick Kendall Fuller. I don’t think they would keep Toler over Quinton Dunbar. That would leave Toler fighting with Dashaun Phillips for the last spot and I think Phillips has the edge. We will see.

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  1. redskins12thman - Aug 2, 2016 at 6:27 AM

    Great observations Rich. Some terrific position battles going on in addition to the ones referenced above: Foster and Riley and Spaight, Daniels and Fields (two of the former group are unlikely to make the cut to 53), Long and Lauvao, Bruton and Ihenacho, etc.

    Any chance the Redskins try to trade Toler for a draft pick or sneak Phillips (or Dunbar) onto practice squad?

    Haven’t heard much about Garvin, Jefferson, Trail and Everett. How have they looked?

    Besides special team specialists (i.e., K, H, P, LS, KR, PR), which other players participate in the Specials Teams drills (i.e., I’m talking about positions like runners, gunners, jammers, up backs, lines, 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)?

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 2, 2016 at 6:43 AM

    I think Toler was an addition the same way Vernon Davis was.

    But in his case, it was two guys who turned up: Norman and draftee Kendall Fuller.

    As you say, Rich, we’ll see…
    ~

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 2, 2016 at 2:01 PM

      I love the idea of Reed and Paul out there in two TE sets. Davis was a nice thought in case Paul couldn’t come back, but I don’t think he offers the same receiving threat as Paul anymore. And, allegedly, Paul improved his blocking last offseason. They should be a lethal combination when out there together. It wouldn’t shock me if Paul ends up getting a lot of balls because defenses focus more on Reed and our other weapons.

      So, I’m glad we have Davis for depth. I’m sure he still has something left if he’s used as a situational/rotational guy. But I’m excited that Paul is back. I hope he solidifies himself as the #2 TE and Gruden works to get him involved. I also hope we keep 4 TEs. I would like us to be developing at least one young guy.

      For Toler. It’s great that he’s showing potential. But having young players to develop is an asset. I can’t imagine cutting a young guy with potential for a guy who probably doesn’t have much playing time left. Especially when our top guys are as good as they are.

  3. colorofmyskinz - Aug 2, 2016 at 7:15 AM

    We are deep at ILB, S, CB and thin at OLB, NT on defense. We are deep at TE, WR, OT, and G. We are thin at C and RB. Better than past years for sure! Our secondary and ILBs will be shutting down the middle to back of field. First year I can remember possibly cutting potential starting talent at DB. Wow what a difference 2 years of Scot makes. I remember the 49ers and the Seahawks defense getting elite in a very short time under Scot. I hope he does not forget about the middle of both our offense and defensive lines and our running back position. We need improvement there for sure.

    If we added a C, RB, NT and truly feared edge rusher we would be solid!

    • troylok - Aug 2, 2016 at 7:53 AM

      The only position you mentioned us being thin at that I would worry about is running back. We’re still early in camp, but I would expect one of those young guys to eventually start making a case for number two.

      Lichtensteiger is adequate at center. My hope is Lauvao reclaims his guard spot which will leave Long as a backup center/guard.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 2, 2016 at 11:00 AM

        Being thin at OLB is a huge concern. It could derail the entire season. There’s only a few truly premium positions. QB, WR, LT (maybe just offensive tackle), and edge rusher. You need those above and beyond everything else. An injury to Kerrigan or Smith would be devastating.

  4. colorofmyskinz - Aug 2, 2016 at 9:47 AM

    Everyone likes to talk about “injury issues” with Keith Marshall. He seems to be holding up pretty well so far. I heard he turned one 75 yard run up the edge with no apparent hammy pull. Any issues from those with eyes on him?

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 2, 2016 at 11:01 AM

      He missed all of OTAs because he was hurt. That’s not good for a guy with his injury history.

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