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A Snap-Shot Of Training Camp Competitions

Posted by Ross Leonhart on August 6, 2011 – 9:01 pm

With thousands of fans on hand for Fan Appreciation Day at Redskins Park, I took my up close view to try to capture some things the folks from the hill couldn’t see.

Suited up in their full upper-body pads, it was the first day of full-contact practice.  No more slap and hug tackles, break out some ferocity:

Wide receiver’s coach Keenan McCardell has his guys practice ball security. One receiver runs with the ball, while the other swats, strips and claws for the ball.

Veterans Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth (second group from left) were paired together and really tested each other, both showing good skills at stripping the ball, and keeping it secure.

At the other end of the field, running backs were working on catching passes, high and low.  Newly-acquired Tim Hightower shows his ups on this one from John Beck:

It looked like a finger-tip grab that only “Clifford Franklin” in The Replacements could get.

And in the field of their own, special teams coach Danny Smith observes punter Sav Rocca, fresh from his 25 hour trip from Australia, hold snaps for kickers Shayne Graham and Graham Gano.

Personally, I have my eyes on that exciting receiving core that McCardell is putting together and how the new-kid-on-the-block Hightower will turn out.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “A Snap-Shot Of Training Camp Competitions”

  1. By nasirjones on Aug 6, 2011 | Reply

    Ross, what are your thoughts on Hightower and his fumbling? Can he and the coaches fix it? And if so, how good can he be? Thanks.

  2. By Justin on Aug 6, 2011 | Reply

    Portis was/is a beast as a blocking back. I know Big Mike can drop the best of em but which of our current HBs block the best?

  3. By REDSKINSALLDAY on Aug 7, 2011 | Reply

    Considering Moss, Gaffney, armstrong n Hankerson as locks. B/w Stallworth, Aldrick, Banks, Paul how many WRs can the Skins really keep?

  4. By Dale on Aug 7, 2011 | Reply

    The position battles are the story in camp for me. Obviously Beck vs. Grossman is the main storyline, but also what about ILb with Mac, Riley, Blades, and now Fox?
    Does Kerrigan start, or is he to be used as a 4-3 rush end his 1st year?
    Will Locklear be given a chance to compete at Guard with Licht, or even Chester?
    Will Licht be given a chance at center with Monty?
    Does Helu become a starter with Torain’s injuries and Hightower’s fumbles?
    Hightower seems locked in as the 3rd down back, but Royster may have something to say about that?
    Will Barnes be able to establish himself as a starting Cb?
    Landry’s injury put Doughty in as a starter?
    Let’s not forget about Kicker with Gano and Graham.?
    Kick returner and Punt returner? Will Banks make the team as one?
    Will Armstrong establish himself as a starter, or 3-4th man?

    Plenty of questions to answer over the next 4 weeks.

  5. By Brian Tinsman on Aug 7, 2011 | Reply


    I love the list brother, but it will also be interesting to see how the defensive line shakes out. Cofield is the supposed NT, but he hasn’t played that before in the pros.

    I think the Redskins have made very smart additions across the board, but how they gel will determine the success of the team in 2011.

  6. By Ross Leonhart on Aug 7, 2011 | Reply

    Great question, something we’re all thinking. Unfortunately, I’ve only seen Hightower in practice a few days, but I’ll try to make some sense of the situation. This is all just what I think:

    Big Picture:
    A Redskins running back will be as good and better as the offensive line allows him. Also, a pass threat helps immensely.

    Hightower Picture:
    He’s young (25), talented and has the right attitude.

    He doesn’t avoid the question about fumbles. He acknowledges that they happen and he makes it a point that he works on it. He has improved into a solid blocking running back over the years, so I think he is more than willing to learn from his coaches and get better.

    My favorite part, he doesn’t make excuses or dwell in the past. He knows and addresses it, then moves on. In my opinion, that’s how any successful professional athlete has to be: aware but with a short term memory.

    Some Stats:

    Durable? He played in all 16 games three straight seasons for the Cardinals.

    Able to carry the load? At Richmond his senior year (2007), Hightower ran for 1,924 yards with a 5.9 average and 20 touchdowns. Adrian Peterson, drafted a year before Hightower, in his best year had 1,925 yards with a 5.7 average and 15 touchdowns. Hightower has yet to have a 1,000+ yardage season in the NFL, but he’s been in the running-back-by-committee with the Cards.

    A note on fumbles:

    Some of Hightower’s fumbles have been forced by defenders helmets, something I see as unavoidable. Nonetheless, a fumble is a fumble.

    In Week 1 last year, Oshiomogho Atogwe (then for the Rams) straight up punch-tackled the ball and Hightower to force a fumble. At least we know that won’t exactly happen this year.

    Here’s the deal. I think he’s shown he has skills to be a good running back. Fumble habits can be overcome. He has a great attitude, which is just as critical as fundamentals. But he only goes as far as the rest of the offense allows. Ryan Torain can play a pretty good running back too, and with the rookies Helu and Royster, I like the Redskins run game. Let’s give Hightower a chance; that’s what I think.

    Sorry for the long response, it was a great question.

  7. By Ross Leonhart on Aug 7, 2011 | Reply

    The receiver position is fascinating me at camp. I remember watching Keenan McCardell, and now he is coaching these guys brilliantly.

    Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin, Brandon Banks and Malcolm Kelly are the guys from last year competing.

    Insert veterans Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth with rookies Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul, Aldrick Robinson and Isaac Anderson makes for a great competition.

    I think it may come down to who is flexible enough to play both receiver and special teams.

    While the team takes on a younger look, I think the receiver position will go to the experienced, established guys.

  8. By Travis Alexander on Aug 7, 2011 | Reply

    I was on the redskins site a couple of days ago, when the media asked Barry Cofield how would he feel about Osi coming to Washington he replied that it would be great. I believe the redskins should really make a pitch for him he’d be a nce addtiton to the redskins. Also he obvisouly doesn’t want to be on the giants because I think their going trade him what do you guys think?

  9. By Brian Tinsman on Aug 7, 2011 | Reply

    @Travis Alexander-

    I noticed the same thing in his presser, and I’ll be interested to see how that situation is resolved in NY. Without getting in trouble for discussing another team’s player, I’ll say that GM Bruce Allen has been extremely active in adding anyone that he thinks will help the Redskins. The Giants run a 4-3, so any player that you add from that scheme has to be projected as able to make that adjustment to a 3-4. With that being said, I think the Redskins are pretty comfortable with how they look on the defensive line and at outside linebacker, so I’m not sure where another player like that would fit. What do YOU think?

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