Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Week 2 OTA press conference in Loudoun County, Va.
1.) Stability at the quarterback position should help DeSean Jackson in his second season with the Redskins.
DeSean Jackson was everything the Redskins hoped for when they signed him last April.
He brought a speed element probably no other player in the league can match and could always be counted on to extend the field for offensive coordinator Sean McVay's unit.
And that was with three different quarterbacks – Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy – throwing him the ball.
As he enters 2015, head coach Jay Gruden hopes that Griffin III – the team's confirmed starter this offseason – and Jackson can build even more chemistry both on and off the field.
"Unfortunately with Robert's injury and then Kirk [Cousins] had an opportunity and we brought Colt [McCoy] in and then back to Robert and then we went back to Colt and then back to Robert. You know, we would like to have stability," Gruden said. "The receivers want stability, and that's very important. I feel good about all three quarterbacks honestly and their progression. But we do need to settle on one – it would be nice to settle on one. So it will have a positive influence on the receivers if we can settle on one so they can get the continuity and feel good about where they are going and all that."
Despite the quarterback rotation last season, Jackson still managed to record his fourth 1,000-yard season and also had six touchdowns.
2.) Trent Murphy has really impressed during practices, showcasing his hard offseason work in the process.
Gruden and the rest of the coaching staff noticed that Murphy came back bigger and stronger during the offseason.
The Stanford product – who appeared in 15 games with eight starts in 2014 – has placed a heavy emphasis on power lifts.
"I know [for] deadlifting, by the time I left I was [at] 550 [pounds] for six reps or eight reps," he told Redskins.com TV's Larry Michael recently. "I was doing get-offs twice a week and working with some Olympic sprint coaches. So, I had a lot of positive work."
His work has been evident on the field, as Gruden said Murphy is one of the players who really sticks out when turning on film.
"When you're looking at practice and you watch practice film, you look for guys that jump out on the screen at you, guys that are making plays and you feel their presence and Trent Murphy is one of them," he said. "He's bigger, he's stronger, he's rushing the passer extremely well, he's getting off the ball very well right now."
Gruden also believes Murphy will display the talent that made the Redskins used their first pick of last year's draft on him.
"I think I'm expecting him to make the biggest jump from first year to second year on our football team because not only is he bigger but he knows the position," Gruden said. "He's athletic, and when you put on some extra bulk and strength, it's just going to give him more… He's already a smart football player with great instincts. Now you add the extra bulk and we expect big things from him this year."
3.) Even with Jordan Reed sidelined until the start of training camp after a minor procedure, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul headline a strong group of veteran tight ends.
While the Redskins would certainly want Reed on the field during OTAs and eventually minicamp, they'll have to use more of Paulsen and Paul in the meantime.
While Paul and Reed can rack up the receiving yards, Paulsen still remains the team's best blocker at the tight end, an important factor considering the Redskins want to run the ball more in 2015.
"Logan has done some good things, he's one of those guys that is going to do exactly what you want," Gruden said. "He's strong. People always say, 'Hey, you guys have got to run the ball, run the ball,' but you have got to have a tight end that can block, not only at the point of attack but the backside and Logan right now is our best blocker. It's good to have him for sure."
Paul – who re-signed with the team during the offseason – also put on muscle like Murphy as he continues to fully grow into the tight end spot.
"You know, he's a converted wide received for goodness sakes and he's busted his tail to get himself ready for the tight end spot," Gruden said. "He's stronger; he's one of our most explosive players in the weight room, done some great things. So those two guys have really done some good things."
Beyond the two veterans at the position are Je'Ron Hamm, Chase Dixon and Devin Mahina, each of whom now have an opening to more playing time.
"The young guys are all trying to step up and find their niche," Gruden said. "We have some young guys that are not used to being in the line and trying to block, you know? When you're trying to create and identity running the ball, not many tight ends in college football now a days are doing that. So we're trying to groom some other guys to do it. But we have some prospects that are looking good, but those top two guys I mentioned are doing well."
4.) The team will likely rely on three young guards – Spencer Long, Josh LeRibeus and Arie Kouandjio – to grab the starting spot at right guard.
After four seasons starting every game for the Redskins, veteran Chris Chester was released last week.
Gruden said the team "just decided to go in a different direction," creating an open competition to replace him in the starting lineup.
"I think the emergence of – we're hoping Spencer Long [emerges]. We drafted [Arie] Kouandjio. We have [Josh] LeRibeus in town. They're in-house ready," Gruden said. "We have some guards I think that can fill in and play."
Gruden, who describes Long as tough and smart, believes Long will really find his own after missing the second half of his senior season at Nebraska. He was limited to spot appearances as a rookie in 2014.
"Coming back last year it was important for him to slowly get into it," Gruden said. "I think having a year under his belt, knowing the system, I think the confidence coming into Year 2, we feel good about his progress. We feel good about [Arie] Kouandjio playing at the University of Alabama, doing some really good things, obviously [Shawn] Lauvao's doing some good things at left guard. We feel good about the guard spot; it's just a matter of making sure these young guys continue to develop, and Coach [Bill] Callahan is the best at doing that."
Outside of battling for the starting guard spot, LeRibeus – entering his fourth season with the Redskins – has also been getting reps at center to backup incumbent starter Kory Lichtensteiger.
"It's important. It really is, because that's one thing that we're missing with Chris," Gruden said. "If something were to happen to Kory [Lichtensteiger] in a game, Chris was our backup center. So we have to train another guy to be a center and Josh is taking the right steps to do that. We'll have some backup centers in-house if something were to happen long-term, but it's important on gameday that we have a backup center. Right now, Josh is working hard at it. Spencer Long is also working at it. We have to have that covered."
5.) DeAngelo Hall and Trent Williams each continue to rehab their injuries, but the team is confident both will be ready when activity cranks up at training camp.
Two familiar faces that have been on the sidelines at OTAs are Hall and Williams, each of whom are three-time Pro Bowlers and team captains.
Hall has appeared some days during individual drills while fully sitting out others, which is all part of his long-term rehab plan.
"No, he's had no setback. We're just part of the protocol," Gruden said. "We just want to make sure he's going through the right rehab steps and the process. We want to make sure that thing's a hundred percent. I think training camp's a good start for him to get rolling, start the individual drills in training camp, start some team drills in training camp. Right now, it's about to continuing the rehab process to make sure that thing's a hundred percent."
Williams, meanwhile, continues to be plagued by a nagging ankle injury suffered late last season, but said he'll be full-go by the time training camp opens up next month in Richmond, Va.
"You know, Trent had that ankle issue a little bit last year at the end of last year. He tried to go in the Pro Bowl, obviously couldn't go," Gruden said. "In the offseason, he did some things in Phase 1, and just felt like it was a little sore. So he's just going to take some time off and rehab it. We're going to make sure he's right for training camp because we don't want that thing to be good one week and bad the next week. We want to make sure we get that thing fully strengthened so he's good to go for training camp."