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5 Takeaways: Jay Gruden's OTAs Day 2 Presser

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


1. Gruden loves the intensity of the first two days of practice, and knows that there will be many position battles to come.

The players were eagerly awaiting this week, salivating at the chance to strap up their helmets and start showing off some of the work they've been doing all offseason. Gruden has noticed.

"It's been aggressive you know?" Gruden said. "It's been two days of practice, but really you know all the other stuff when they weren't in practice and the weight room or the meeting, they've all been very attentive. They work extremely hard in the weight room, and the last two days of practice have been very good, spirited. You know what; we've got a lot to prove still. You know, the guys trying to make the roster, number one trying to learn a system, trying to establish themselves, trying to be a consistent team. We've got some new players trying to get gelled together. We're at the beginning stages of next season, but it's fun to watch those guys compete and play."

After just two days of work, Gruden has a general idea of starters and showed his hand on Wednesday with the first and second team on the field. In terms of the safety position, Gruden likes David Bruton Jr. and DeAngelo Hall out there together for now, but nothing is set in stone.

"I always say that's the beauty of the pencil," Gruden said. "You got an eraser. So we have to start somewhere. [David] Bruton is doing a good job. Duke's [Ihenacho] in that mention. We moved Will Blackmon back to safety, he's learning. He's feeling his way through there. [Deshazor] Everett's doing a good job. You know we got Geno [Matias]-Smith from Alabama. He's learning it. So, we're going to have some people out there to keep."

2. Linebacker Junior Galette won't play until training camp, just as a precaution.

Galette didn't participate in team drills during Wednesday's OTAs, working off to the side with head strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark, and now we know why.

After tearing his Achilles last August, Galette has made big strides in his training, something even the casual observer on Twitter has seen, and his explosiveness will be at maximum capacity by the end of July. But his head coach doesn't want to risk anything. 

"So anxious, he is like a kid at Christmas and he is sitting up waiting on Santa Clause every day and he hasn't come yet," Gruden said. "He can't wait to put on the pads and practice. He is working so hard with the trainers and on the sidelines listening to every call, he is into it.

Galette said he's at about 85 percent recovered, but joked after practice that if the Redskins had a game next week, he'd be in the starting lineup. If that were true, Gruden might even let him. For now, though, they're not going to take any chances.

"It's going to be fun watching him getting back on the field, he's very excited, and he's doing everything he can to get out there. He probably could go right now but we are being extra cautious with him to make sure he is a hundred percent ready for training camp. It's going to be an explosion when he comes back and that's for sure."

3. While running back Rob Kelley is tabbed to be this year's starter, the rest of the depth chart is up for grabs.

With the departure of Alfred Morris, Jones will be leaned on to carry the offense in the backfield.

In just his second year, there is still some concern, both in his durability and his ball handling, two things Redskins coaches have been working on with him. Considering the Redskins haven't picked up a veteran in free agency should be a confidence boost for Jones, and it also means more competition between the team's younger backs.

"We have every intention of Matt being number one, and we're excited about it," Gruden said. "You know, he's a big guy and I think he can handle it. But there will be other running backs you know worth mentioning. We're going to have three, maybe four running backs up on game day and they're going to get some reps. He'll be the number one, but we will also utilize other players like Mack Brown, it could be Keith Marshall, it could be whoever else is here. So, still have Chris Thompson obviously. We're still trying to figure that out."

While Gruden wants to see the physicality out of his back, OTAs make that desire difficult to attain without contact allowed. Instead he's looking at their fundamentals to make sure when the pads come on, the transition is seamless and their posturing is as it should be.

"We're in shorts right now," Gruden said. "We're just going through our fundamentals and who we're blocking. Basically as far as coming off the ball, low pad level, and you know pushing people around, that's not going to happen out here. That'll be an emphasis when we get the pads on at training camp and obviously throughout the season. Coach Callahan is obviously going to preach, Sean [McVay] will, I will. You know, tight ends, linemen, backs, receivers, you know they're all involved in it."

4. The team is looking to Spencer Long to provide some advance backup at the center position

With veteran Trent Williams, the Redskins know they have a professional center they can trust. But, after he spent the majority of last season on the injured/reserve list, forcing Josh LeRibeus to fill the void, they're looking to Spencer Long as this year's insurance policy.

Long has played both guard positions along the offensive line for the Redskins, and getting adjusted to center will be another transition he'll have to overcome.

"We just want to get him [acclimated] to center and see how he does, see how he picks it up," Gruden said. "Kory [Lichtensteiger] is doing an excellent job so far for the first two days and obviously [Josh] LeRibeus got his experience last year, but, we don't want to run into a situation again where we lose somebody and something happens to the next guy and then we can't even function."

5. Gruden isn't worried about the defensive line being a liability for the defense

The easy narrative this season will be that the Redskins upgraded at multiple positions but missed out on enhancing the defensive line, the area of most "need."

Check out images from the Washington Redskins' defense and special teams during their second day of OTAs at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

The reasons are somewhat valid. Terrance Knighton and Jason Hatcher, two veterans of the group are gone, and the Redskins only added rookie Matt Ioannidis along with vets Kendall Reyes and Ziggy Hood in their place. But so far, with emergence of Chris Baker last year, the group's overall versatility and the added pressures of Trent Murphy transitioning to defensive end (plus outside linebackers in Preston Smith, Kerrigan and Galette), Gruden isn't too worried about production.

"I think you talk about a big splash and a high-paid free agent, but I think we made some splashes," he said. "We added Ziggy Hood and Kendall Reyes. You know these are guys we are going to add to the mix. We have Stpehen Paea coming off of injury, you know, we have [Chris] Baker coming back, Ricky [Jean Francois] and Matt Ioannidis coming back as well…and we are moving Trent Murphy in there, so we got some big players in there that can compete and play. There's no question about it that I'm not too worried about that.

"Now we add Junior Galette at defensive end, we got [Ryan] Kerrigan, we got Preston Smith who you watch him out there he looks pretty dang good. And some of the young guys, Houston Bates looks very good, so I'm not too worried about it. We don't have a big named pro bowler at defensive tackle in the interior and that's fine, but we are going to have four, five, or six of these guys that are going to play compete and play well." 

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