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5 Takeaways: Jay Gruden's Day 1 Minicamp Presser

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Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's media session with reporters during the first day of 2016 minicamp at Redskins Park.


1. Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed were kept out of practice for precautionary reasons.

While the Redskins are close to full strength during this week's mandatory veteran minicamp, the offense is without two of its key weapons right now, as both Doctson and Reed were once again on the sidelines during Tuesday's practice.

Doctson has been dealing with a nagging Achilles injury, while Reed "turned his ankle" last week and didn't participate.

"Josh is improving," Gruden said. "We have a couple of days left here and there is just a little tendonitis on his Achilles. We just want to make sure we get it taken care of now so it doesn't act up anymore. He probably could go; we're just being a little precautionary."

Without Reed on the field right now, it has opened the doors for the Redskins to see the rest of the tight ends corps in action.

Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen are back on the field after missing the 2015 season, and Vernon Davis is still adjusting to life with the Redskins entering his 11th NFL season.

"I've seen Niles Paul really make an unbelievable… he's done an unbelievable job in rehab to get himself to this point," Gruden said. "We didn't expect him back until training camp, but he was champing at the bit. Basically, he was in my office all the time saying he was ready to go, so finally I gave in and said, 'Go practice!' He's done a great job, man, so we're excited to see him get back in form. And Logan [Paulsen] has done a nice job coming back from his injury from a year ago. He's strong, he's physical, so he's done a nice job."

Gruden added that Davis has "the longest way to go" picking up the offense as the new guy, but he's "picked it up very well" to date.

"Those are three guys have done a nice job," Gruden said. "And we have some other young guys that are competing out there and doing a good job."

2. Gruden likes the competitive spirit the Redskins are showing right now.

Perhaps it's due to the fact that Trent Williams is constantly complimenting the offense and the defense wants retribution, but the Redskins' recent practice sessions have been quite lively.

The Washington Redskins held minicamp practice Tuesday, June 14, 2016, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

Gruden likes the fact that's the case.

"It's all fun and games out here," Gruden said. "When the game starts, we have to eliminate all that stuff but it doesn't happen very often – just a few select guys. Kirk kind of eggs it on a little bit when he gets excited. I think he just gets so fired up sometimes when he makes a good play and some [on] defense take offense to that because they gave up a big play. Overall it's all fun. Guys are good having fun out there and that's part of it. We want them to work hard, play hard, but we also need them to have fun and enjoy going out there."

Gruden added that with so many players bringing their 'A' game right now, it "makes everybody work a little bit harder."

"Offensive line, if you're a tackle, you're lined up against [Ryan] Kerrigan one play and here's Preston Smith, here comes Trent [Murphy], here comes Ricky [Jean Francois], here comes [Chris] Baker," Gruden said. "You know, we've got a whole bunch of guys that are rushing and they're competing. That's the good thing. It says for the quality of the depth that we have on our roster that we're starting to grow and get because if you take a play off and you're not competing, you're going to look bad, and that's it."

3. Rob Kelley continues to make the most of his opportunity.

While Rob Kelley continues to take all of the first-team reps at running back, the Redskins are currently using Kelley as the No. 2 back in certain situations with Chris Thompson and Keith Marshall sidelined.

On multiple occasions during Tuesday's practice, Kelley drew compliments after making strong cuts that created quite a bit of open running room.

"He has done good," Gruden said. "He is one of those guys that you really don't know a lot about, but, 'Who's No. 22? Who is that? That's Kelley making another big play.' He has got great, low center of gravity when he runs the ball. I think he is going to be a tough guy to tackle when it's all said and done. He went to Tulane and did some good things and I think he has a chance. We will see what happens when we get the pads on."

Kelley served multiple roles during his Tulane career, as he went from a lead back to a pass-catching threat and even some fullback work. The Redskins hope to tap into this versatility more.

4. Gruden's noticed a bigger, stronger Preston Smith.

Despite leading all rookies in sacks last season with eight sacks, the Redskins wanted Smith to bulk up heading into the 2016 season.

While he's only gained a few pounds, Smith is clearly more toned and in shape.

"He has done great," Gruden said. "The most impressive thing with him is in the weight room. That's what I wanted to see him grow and develop. He's stronger, he's bigger and looks a little quicker. That's awesome. He is already a smart guy, knows the defense. Now he has the added strength and conditioning."

The Washington Redskins held minicamp practice Tuesday, June 14, 2016, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

With Smith joining forces with Ryan Kerrigan and Junior Galette, Gruden believes the Mississippi State product "is going to be a force" this year.

"He had nine sacks or eight sacks for us last year for us and he is just getting better and better," Gruden said. "The more comfortable he gets with the terminology and the scheme – when to long stick, when to run the hoop, whatever it is – the more violent he can play."

5. When he's on the field, Jamison Crowder "makes a big difference."

Perhaps the biggest play of Tuesday's practice came when Kirk Cousins rolled out on a play action pass to find Jackson wide-open for a would-be 60-yard touchdown score.

Sure, other players on the offense can make similar plays, but not as frequently as the three-time Pro Bowler does.

That threat along opens up the entire offense for the Redskins.

"He is a big-time problem for defenses," Gruden said. "He's a big-time weapon for an offense, so anytime he is out on the field he is very helpful to our team. So we are going to continue to use him and we are glad he is healthy."

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