Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky's press conferences at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun Co., Va.
1. Josh Doctson's catch against the Raiders indicated the progress he's made practicing on a consistent basis.
It was a welcome sight. Last year's first-round draft pick Josh Doctson leapt over cornerback David Amerson and collected a jump ball from Trent Williams, rolling his way into the end zone for a 52-yard score and his first catch of the season.
The connection offered hope for many fans eager to see the talent they had been promised, which was sidelined for the majority of last season and this preseason. The catch on Sunday night, Gruden said, will help to establish more trust between the pairing, as will another week of consistent practice with the full squad.
"We have seen that in practice," Gruden said of hi acrobatic skills. "It was good to see it in a game finally. Now it is a matter of continuing to work on his route tree. We know he can run a go-ball, now we have got to work on his other stuff and the timing. He has shown that he can do everything. I think it is just a matter of putting day after day together and game after game together. He is on the right track without a doubt. We are excited to get him more reps and more balls."
2. D.J. Swearinger brings attitude and leadership to a defense that played one of its best games in history last week.
Of the many offseason moves and roster changes the Redskins have undergone, none might be as important as the signing of safety D.J. Swearinger, who has seamlessly taken over as the team's vocal leader and defensive captain.
"[He's] just a fiery guy – a guy that knows football across the board and I love that," Manusky said. "I love his spirit and he gets guys around him to rally behind him and [he's] taking us where we need to be. We're not there right now, but we're getting there."
His natural ability to lead a diverse group of players has paid dividends on the field, operating as the eyes and ears of the defense and translating his intelligence to the whole unit. In fact, he's made it a priority to host two defensive meetings each week for the entire unit, going over game plans and helping every level understand how the other will be functioning. It's gone a long way so far.
"It's one thing being a vocal guy, but you have to back it up with production and sound play and know what you are talking about," Gruden said. "I've had guys before that are talkers that don't know what they are doing, but he brings both. He brings an edge to him that rubs off on people. Not to say we didn't have that before, but it is just an added dimension with him being here. He also has a great knowledge of our system already and he can communicate that well with the other safeties, young safeties, the linebackers and what have you and the corners. Communication is key on defense."
3. The defense must swarm to Kareem Hunt to limit his production this Monday.
An immoveable object will meet an unstoppable force this Monday night, or something close to that. The Redskins defense is allowing just 62.3 rushing yards per game, good for second best in the league, while the Chiefs boast rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who leads the league in rushing yards with 401 and scrimmage yards with 538.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' defense and special teams preparing for their Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
"I think [he's a] great back, he's been doing a great job this year," Manusky said. "We've got to get a lot of hats around him, make sure that we tackle him. He can break tackles, seen him do that many a times. You know, No. 10 [Tyreek Hill] in the backfield and No. 13 [De'Anthony Thomas] in the backfield – two fast guys that can really split you down the middle and also running the ball. [They are] two effective guys that can run to the edge."
The challenge for the Redskins will also be staying on their keys and not getting duped on misdirection and deceptive formations the Chiefs like to show.
"I think he has great vision, number one," Gruden said of Hunt. "I mentioned the contact balance that he has and obviously he has got the speed to run through holes. He has done very good. They have a great scheme over there. They keep you off-balance. They have got the zone reads going. They have got the jet sweeps. They have a lot of things that you don't see every day in pro football."
4. The defensive unit is starting to gel with increased time playing together.
With so many new parts needing to sync together, it's been an impressive beginning to the season for the Redskins defense, which has, in consecutive weeks, limited opponents' run games and played the brand of aggressive football fans have waited to see for some time.
Gruden noted that aiding this transition of new parts – including Swearinger, linebacker Zach Brown and defensive linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain – is the experience they all brought with them.
"These guys have played a lot of football," Gruden said. "It is just a matter of getting together with the terminology and playing well with your teammates. What drew us to those guys – Jonathan Allen, obviously – was their work ethic, how hard they played. They all seemed like smart guys and they fit in well."
Manusky has seen steady improvement the more they have played in games together, expecting their unity to grow over the coming weeks.
"It's great to get a lot of reps of seeing these guys playing together," Manusky said. "Sometimes when you're coming out of the preseason and stuff, some guys get 10 reps, 15 reps or 20 reps – it's hard to get a good judge on what they can do and what they can't do. Overall, we've been pretty successful in the last couple of weeks. From the players' perspective, they're doing a good job. I think they're building camaraderie amongst themselves and we're playing together and good things happen."
5. Injured players are on the mend.
Washington received a handful of injuries following the Rams game that prevented a few starters from playing against Oakland. After an extra day of rest this week, everyone but for tackle Ty Nsekhe, who received core muscle surgery on Tuesday, was back at practice, and there is more optimism surrounding many of their returns.
While limited in practice Thursday, running back Rob Kelly, tight end Jordan Reed and linebacker Mason Foster all participated in individual drills. Gruden isn't exactly sure the prognosis for them yet but their practicing is a positive sign.
"We will see," Gruden said when it came to Reed. "He felt better today, did more team stuff today. But we will have to wait and see. So I don't know."
Gruden did also mention that defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis sustained a rotator cuff injury during the Raiders game. Gruden is confident he should be able to play on Monday, but Anthony Lanier II will be ready if needed.