Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on Thursday spoke to the media before the first practice of the 2015 training camp. Here's five takeaways from Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda.
1. The goal for the first day was simple.
Yes, training camp brings with it an extra layer of work with an additional walkthrough practice and more opportunities for player-coach interactions, but the groundwork for the season started months ago.
"It's an extension of what we've been putting in through OTAs from last year, getting the new guys up to speed on what we're doing, and trying to mesh as a football team, number one," Gruden said. "Along the way, trying to find our top 53 guys for the regular season."
That certainly doesn't mean the next few weeks aren't important.
Quite the opposite, as sizing down the 90-man roster to a 53-man roster isn't easy.
"There's a lot to do, a lot of people to look at, but we feel like we have the talent out there that it should be great competition across the board and also implementing our system, no doubt," he said.
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2. As it stands now, DeAngelo Hall will be one of the team's starting corners.
Perhaps no injury was more devastating to the Redskins last season that DeAngelo Hall's season-ending injury suffered Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Hall not only remains one of the most talented cornerbacks in the NFL even after a decade of wear and tear, but his leadership is difficult to match.
"He's a great leader back there and we lost a lot when we lost DeAngelo last year," Gruden said. "A veteran cornerback of his stature and his experience is a very valuable asset to have. You know, he was voted captain right away and then we lose him very early. It was a big loss for us and to have him back, we just have got to make sure we monitor where he's at and don't push him too hard."
Getting cleared to fully participate was something Hall was excited for, as Gruden sees him as "the type of guy that's going to want to take every rep."
The Washington Redskins conducted their first day of training camp practice Thursday, July 30, 2015 at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
"And he's going to be our starting cornerback right now then until somebody knocks him off," Gruden said. "And it's going be hard to do because he's a very experienced guy, very smart guy and very savvy guy, and guys like that are hard to find but we do have some people who are breathing down his neck, for sure. Breeland wants it. Amerson got a taste of being a starter, he wants to start. Obviously Culliver's here, so we have four guys with some good experience and are going to push the envelope, but DeAngelo's a very good corner."
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3. Trent Murphy had an excellent offseason and appears in line to replace Brian Orakpo in the starting lineup.
You can go ahead and chalk up the 2015 offseason as a win for second-year linebacker Trent Murphy, who bulked up big time and really excelled on the field according to Gruden.
"In OTAs, he probably had about 15 sacks – would-have-been sacks – if we let the whistle blow," Gruden said. "He's really put on some weight. He's stronger, he looks a little quicker, and he's got great knowledge of the system. He's a very smart player."
Gruden said when Murphy first came to the Redskins he was "like a puppy."
That dog is about to become all grown up.
"He just gets in the weight room, he's going to get stronger and stronger and he's going to become an angry dog here before too long," Gruden said. "Trent is going to be a tough guy to get out of that lineup. He plays hard, he's a physical guy, he's long, and he can move around quite a bit. And Preston [Smith], we're excited about what he can do. We've got some young guys that played a lot last year that had to play when [Brian] Orakpo got hurt, and then Trent got hurt. So those guys will also compete, but we like where Trent is at right now."
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4. Jordan Reed remains a versatile player who can really do a lot of things for the offense.
It's certainly been frustrating to see Reed miss significant time over the last two seasons for a variety of injuries, especially when seeing what he can do when healthy.
One of the better pass catchers at the tight end position, Gruden absolutely wants to use Reed's skillset to the Redskins' advantage.
But he's also hoping Reed's third season in the NFL will also see him improve on his blocking.
"He's got to continue to get better as a blocker, No. 1, but as far as the passing game is concerned, he's a threat, no doubt," Gruden said. "He can run the option routes, the choice routes on the inside. He can line up on the outside and create mismatch problems for safeties or linebackers. So, he's a big part of our offense when he's healthy."
Gruden said remaining healthy will fall a lot on No. 86's shoulders on how he prepares week in and week out.
"He's got to do a good job of maintaining his strength and point-of-attack blocking and all of that so he can be a well-rounded tight end," Gruden said. "As far as a pass-catching tight end, he's up there with the tops in the league, we just have got to keep him healthy and obviously keep building his blocking strength."
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5. Evaluating free agent talent comes on an individual basis.
The Redskins hosted free agent* *outside linebacker Junior Galette on Thursday.
Galette was recently released by the New Orleans Saints after five seasons with the team.
While there aren't too many questions about his talent (he's recorded 22 sacks in the last two seasons) some off-the-field issues reportedly factored into his release.
Gruden said that when it comes to deciding on free agents, it all depends on the particular situation.
"It's something that Scot [McCloughan], myself and Bruce [Allen] and the defensive staff will all talk about," he said. "Obviously, he's had some issues in the past but we like to draw our own conclusions about every individual that we bring in to this building, and we'll go from there. It's very early right now, and I haven't had a chance to talk to him at all. So until I do, I won't draw any conclusions on what's happened to him in the past."
While there's no word on whether Galette is signing with the Redskins at this time, Gruden confirmed he was in town on Thursday going through a certain process with the team.
"We're going to get a physical on him and then go from there," Gruden said. "We'll get a chance to talk to him. He'll meet with Scot, he'll meet with myself and then we'll make a determination on where we go from there."