Here's five takeaways from Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay's media session with reporters during the third week of OTAs at Redskins Park.
1. McVay is "absolutely" seeing growth in Trent Williams.
Coming off a record-breaking season in 2015, Cousins is making strides this offseason as the Redskins' starting quarterback.
Not only is he more accurate on his passes, but the fifth-year quarterback is displaying a confidence and comfortability that comes with time as the leader of the offense.
"He's taken command of the offense," McVay said. "You can just see he's got a really good feel for what we're trying to get done. He's truly become an extension of our coaching staff and we've feel really good about what he's shown through these first nine days."
Cousins' preparation, even during the spring and summer months, is unmatched. The Michigan State product is known to be obsessed with time management, as he explained last year that he's got a color-coordinated notebook with almost every hour of the day planned out.
That sort of elite preparation has extended to the offseason.
"With his offseason preparation, the way that he goes about just his everyday routine, he's innately just going to get continuous improvement and that's what we always strive for from him," McVay said. "And I think just the feel for what we're trying to get done, different situations and, kind of, what we want to operate, how we want operate philosophically offensively, and he's got a great feel for that right now."
2. Rob Kelley is already showing to me a more mature player.
It's all on your shoulders, now.
That's the message the Redskins have given Jones entering his second season, as the team did not re-sign Alfred Morris during free agency, signaling a changing of the guard at running back.
"I've been extremely encouraged with him – his understanding of where he fits in protections, consistency in his tracks," McVay said. "It is a little bit harder to evaluate that position because you can't tackle guys to the ground and you can't really account for a bigger back like him where it looks like he might be tackled in the hole but he's able to fall forward and get some extra yards. He's done a great job so far and we're very encouraged and I think [running backs coach] Randy Jordan's done an excellent job getting him to take steps forward going into year two as our guy."
While Jones has all of the physical tools to excel as the Redskins' lead back, the 2015 third-round pick must show better ball security in 2016 after fumbling five times as a rookie.
At offseason workouts, the team has been using a ball that forces Jones to make sure he's hitting all of the correct pressure points.
"Yeah, Randy Jordan found a specific football where you have got to have the five points of pressure and it makes a specific beep, and if it's not beeping, he's yelling at Matt all the time," McVay said. "So you're always hearing him beep in those individual drills. And I think that's the thing that we've tried to implement to make that point of emphasis and always making sure that you're keeping that constant pressure especially in those contact areas once you get into the hole in traffic."
3. The team's tight ends will help in the running game.
Although Jordan Reed skyrocketed to the top of the NFL ranks among tight ends last season for his contributions in the Redskins' passing game, he's still working on being a better blocker.
The Washington Redskins announced on Thursday, March 31, 2016, the signing of free agent tight end Vernon Davis. Here's a gallery of photos from his career.
At times, either Reed or even Tom Compton was thrust into blocking duties at the position last year with Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen and Derek Carrier suffering season-ending injuries.
With Paul and Paulsen both fully healthy now, and the team's signing of veteran Vernon Davis, the run blocking from the unit should have a greater impact in 2016.
"I think it will definitely help, you know, those guys Niles and Logan especially have an experience with them," McVay said. "Those guys are excellent contributors in the run game. I've been very pleased what they have been able to do so far. And Vernon is a guy that when you watch what he has accomplished over the course of his career, he has competed very well in both phases, so any time you are able to add and have three tight ends that you feel good about running behind at the point of attack… that's something that is comforting for us, especially when you look at what we were dealing with last year and the injuries and I do think that hurt us and our ability to run the ball."
4. Spencer Long's biggest adjustment to playing some center is the communication aspect.
Long started the 2015 season as a backup to veteran Shawn Lauvao at left tackle. But after Lauvao was lost for the year with a season-ending injury in Week 3, Long was called into starting duties, something he did for the final 13 regular season games and the Redskins' playoff games.
While Long, entering his third season, will engage in what is likely to be a strong competition with Lauvao for the starting gig at that position, he's also taking some reps at center behind Trent Williams.
Long certainly has the physical tools – 6-foot-5, 324 pounds – to play both positions, but learning the nuances of the center position takes some time.
"Once you move inside and you're responsible for making all of those line calls and the communication up front, Coach [Bill] Callahan puts a lot on those guys," McVay said. "That's going to be the biggest transition for him in addition to just getting comfortable snapping the football, whether it be from underneath the center or in the shotgun. That's where you see the biggest transition for those guys that bump inside from playing that guard position."
5. Nate Sudfeld is a "natural thrower."
Selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Sudfeld is in a position to sit and learn behind Cousins and Colt McCoy.
Sudfeld is working with the third-team offense this summer – something he'll likely continue to do throughout the next few months – while slowly learning the entire playbook.
"He is still getting comfortable and getting used to taking snaps underneath the center and getting more familiar with our terminology," McVay said. "He has gotten more reps in the last couple weeks and you are seeing that improvement, but basically what you're seeing from him is rookie quarterback that is continuing to grow each day."
But even with limited work for now, McVay sees all of the talent that made him one of the Redskins' seven draft picks this year.
You see the arm talent, you see the athleticism for a big guy," McVay said. "So you're excited about what he'll be able to do as he continues to develop."