Here’s intern Ryan Gracia, taking a look at a few more reports out of today’s players-only practice — specifically those dealing with sixth-round draft choice RB Evan Royster.
players-only practice concluded today with some interesting notes. It was an unorthodox practice in many ways, according to reports, with John Beck spending some time on the offensive line, Kedric Golston showing his skill at cornerback alongside a fan who happened to come prepared for practice, and current Indianapolis Colt and former Redskin Justin Tryon reportedly joining in on the action.
One thing was constant, though, as rookie running back Evan Royster found himself doing what he has become accustomed to doing throughout his days at Penn State: blocking. According to what the running back told Rich Campbell of The Washington Times:
“Every pass play we had an assignment of blocking,” he said. “We were never really in a free release type of situation at Penn State. I think I did a good job in college, but at this level there’s a little bit more of a responsibility back there. It’s just about getting used to it, picking up on things and being able to see them. Once I get the mental aspect of it down, I think I’ll be OK.”
With Clinton Portis and his exceptional blocking skills gone, the Redskins will be looking for another running back to protect their QB at the expense of their own body — and Royster could be that man. He already has plenty of experience in the trade but like Royster stated above, there’s a little more to it in the NFL. And based on what he told 106.7 The Fan’s Sky Kerstein, today’s practice was helpful.
“There’s nothing like being out here and actually getting to see defenses against the plays,” Royster says. “It’s one thing to look at it on a piece of paper, but to get out here and actually run through it is something completely different.”
Because the current labor situation made him unable to get his hands on the playbook from the coaches after the Draft, Royster’s knowledge of the plays was limited. Today, he said, that changed … somewhat.
“I came out here really with no knowledge of the playbook and [Beck and Rex Grossman] are kind of helping me understand,” Royster tells Kerstein. “Now when I look at my playbook it’s not like reading Chinese.”
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Redskins.com intern Brian Tinsman decided to round up some of the Redskins in ESPN’s recent power rankings. He’s a braver man than I.
ESPN.com is currently in the process of offering power rankings on each NFL position, and a couple of the Redskins usual suspects stacked up well.
The rankings were created by a panel composed of eight ESPN “experts,” and the rankings were based on the cumulative points of those rankings. Click on the header to link to the article, and let’s start from the top:
Cooley appeared as high as fourth on two ballots, and as low as unranked on one curious ballot. While there was no specific analysis offered for Cooley, voters did note that the process of ranking was especially difficult thanks to the intricacies of the position:
“After a hellish pass-rusher ballot, I thought tight ends would be far easier,” AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky said. “They were just as difficult. There is a great deal of young talent too. I steered clear of first-year guys, but in another season or two, this could be even more brutal to sort through.”
I like Cooley’s ranking in the Top-5, and on a game-to-game basis that’s all that really matters. He’s an elite tight end in the NFL, somebody the offense is geared towards and the opposing defenses plan around.
It was good to see Hall mentioned after a standout season in 2010, and he certainly earned the distinction as a Top-10 corner. However, some of the names picked in front of him were questionable, both statistically, and in terms of names that offenses game-plan around.
Last season, Hall had 112 tackles, six interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was dominant in the secondary, a leader in the lockerroom, and he was a play-maker and game-changer on defense. Just ask Jay Cutler. And yet somehow Hall did not appear at all on five of the eight ballots, and ranked no higher than seventh.
This is certainly a difficult position to gauge, with 23 corners receiving votes from the eight panelists. But for a shoo-in Pro Bowler and Pro Bowl MVP, Hall probably deserved a slightly higher ranking.
Just cracking the Top-10 says a lot for LaRon Landry, who played in only nine games last year before landing on Injured Reserve.
Landry is a complete player, and finished 2010 with 101 tackles, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. For his efforts, Landry was listed as high as fifth on one ballot, but was unranked on five other ballots. Clearly there is little consensus about what makes a valuable safety in the NFL.
Former Ram and new Redskins safety O.J. Atogwe was an honorable mention on the list, receiving a fifth and ninth place vote from two panelists. Together with Landry, the Redskins are the only team besides the Steelers to have both 2011 starting safeties make the list.
Once again, London Fletcher is denied the recognition he deserves at linebacker, so maybe he can introduce Brian Orakpo to the feeling.
Don’t get me wrong- linebacker is a very difficult position to analyze as a whole, given that there are different schemes, different positions, and different responsibilities on every team. But one thing that translates anywhere is Fletcher’s 2010 season totals of 188 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles. Panelist Matt Williamson seemed to disagree:
London Fletcher is underrated, but not in this conversation. How [Jon] Beason is to [Patrick] Willis, Fletcher is to [Ray] Lewis. He is smaller and slower than Lewis, good among older guys.
Orakpo had an above-average season in 2010, collecting 8.5 sacks to follow up the 11 in his rookie year. He probably didn’t produce like he wanted to, but he still showed enough to earn an eighth-place ranking from one voter.
Both Orakpo and Fletcher were likely hurt by the team’s 30th-ranked defense. With another year in the 3-4 scheme and the help of other players around them, both should benefit in 2011.
In the grand scheme of the NFL, power rankings mean about as much as the pre-game introductions: once you’re on the field, it doesn’t matter. But it’s still fun to see what the “experts” say, and hopefully with an improved 2011 season, more Redskins will get the individual accolades that they deserve.
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As you can see in Sky Kerstein‘s photo above, the Redskins are holding another players-only practice today in some mysterious undisclosed location.
Apparently that location is being at least somewhat disclosed, though, as Shemar Woods of the Washington Post reports that a small group of fans had gathered to watch … and that one of those fans, a guy named Josh Richards, got to live every fan’s dream:
When linebacker London Fletcher asked a small group of fans in the bleachers at the Redskins’ informal workout whether they had “brought their stuff,” Richards was the only spectator who had come prepared.
The 28-year-old laced up his cleats and participated in individual drills with the the Redskins’defensive backs. He only dropped one interception on his first go-around.
“Growing up, the Redskins were my favorite team, so just to be out there with them was a lot of fun,” said Richards, who said he played defensive back at Robinson High School.
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Video game site IGN.com has a whole bunch of content about the upcoming iteration of Madden — Madden NFL 12, if we’re being technical — and a depressing amount of it (including two Dallas Cowboys videos out of nine total videos) seems to be centered on the other NFC East teams. Scanning through the 156 screenshots from the game, I spotted two that related to the Redskins.
One was the pass downfield to Anthony Armstrong that we’ve already discussed. The other one was this:
(Click to see a much bigger version at IGN.)
I hesitate to make very many predictions while this offseason of uncertainty persists but I would bet infinity-thousand dollars that you will NEVER see this particular scene take place. A few observations to explain why not:
- The cheerleaders have pink pompoms, which means that this game is in Breast Cancer Awareness Month, formerly known as October. That rules out any possibility of “Well, it’s only preseason, something could change before the regular season.” And yet….
- There’s Albert Haynesworth, cheerfully running out of the tunnel with his teammates. Still possible, yes — Haynesworth is absolutely still on the roster — although his text messages to 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen yesterday certainly don’t seem too promising. Still, that alone is absolutely possible.
- Rex Grossman, meanwhile, is NOT currently on the roster (although he’s been showing up at the players-only workouts), and yet there he is, leading the team out of the tunnel, in front of ….
- Donovan McNabb, who IS currently on the roster (although he hasn’t been showing up at the players-only workouts). Still, a quick Google News search suggests several places that NFL “insiders” expect to see McNabb next year … none of which are Washington. It remains possible that he could be running out of the tunnel at FedExField, but a lot of people are skeptical of that.
- Carlos Rogers is another one. There he is off to the left of the picture, sprinting giddily to the Redskins logo at midfield. Which isn’t exactly how Rogers portrayed his expectations for 2011 in this interview with David Elfin, the one where he says, “You hear that the Cowboys and Eagles are looking for a corner. It would be fun to play against the Redskins twice a year.”
- And if you look really closely, you can see what looks like Santana Moss — another guy who’s not currently on the roster — jogging out just behind Haynesworth.
Again, no one knows what the remainder of this offseason is going to bring, and, really, ANYTHING seems possible. One, two, or three of those guys could certainly be on the Redskins roster in October, but I don’t think I’m being out of line to suggest that this particular assemblage of players is seeming less and less likely to come running out of that tunnel as a group.
Hat tip to Intern Brian for spotting this.
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