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Practice Notes: 2015 OTAs, Day 1

The Washington Redskins on Tuesday had their first OTA practice of the 2015 season. Here's some notes and observations from Redskins.com's Andrew Walker.*


**It's a new year in Loudoun County, Va., where the Washington Redskins on Tuesday opened up OTA practices for the first time in 2015.

Check out images from the Washington Redskins' OTA practice on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

That "new" theme continued even through the shirts worn by many of the assistant coaches, who revealed the team's slogan for the 2015 season: "Stronger Together."

That phrase – which was on the front of the shirt – was joined by "TEAM > i" on the back, giving fans a glimpse into the mindset heading into what many are hoping is a turnaround year.

As for the players themselves, here's what stood out:

  • There were several offensive linemen snapping footballs to the quarterbacks just before the walkthrough and stretching period began. They included Austin Reiter, Tyler Larsen, Chris Chester, Arie Kouandjio and Kory Lichtensteiger. Lichtensteiger is obviously the incumbent starter at the center position for the Redskins – and Chester did get in some snaps at the position last season – but versatility is huge for any offensive line, so new position coach Bill Callahan certainly has some options there.
  • Speaking of Callahan – man, what a technician he is. He's everywhere on the practice field ensuring his guys are utilizing the correct fundamentals. When it was time for the first offense-vs.-defense team portion of Tuesday's practice, the offensive linemen were a little late to join, prompting head coach Jay Gruden to jokingly bark at Callahan: "Trying to milk another rep out of them, Bill?" Good stuff.

To be clear, it's still May, so any talk about team depth charts is entirely premature. That being said, the offensive linemen getting "first-team" reps on Tuesday appeared to be rookie Brandon Scherff (right tackle), Chester (right guard), Lichtensteiger (center), Shawn Lauvao (left guard) and Tom Compton (left tackle). Compton was filling in for three-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams, who, according to Gruden, missed his flight out of Houston and couldn't make it on Tuesday. * Veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall was wearing his typical No. 2 burgundy practice jersey on Tuesday, but was not a participant in practice. Hall, of course, is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, and says he hopes to be back to full strength by training camp. * Staying in the secondary, free agent acquisition Jeron Johnson certainly made some standout plays. First, the safety made a great break up to bat down a pass attempt to running back Silas Redd Jr. Three plays later, Johnson executed a terrific read to jump in front of a pass intended for running back Chris Thompson – who slipped on the play – and picked off the pass. Johnson is expected to be in competition with Duke Ihenacho for the starting job at strong safety. * Again with the disclaimer for "starting" positions this early into OTAs, but among those getting what would amount to "first-team" reps on the defense included Stephen Paea (defensive end), Terrance Knighton (nose tackle), Jason Hatcher (defensive end), Trent Murphy (outside linebacker), Keenan Robinson (inside linebacker), Perry Riley (inside linebacker), Trevardo Williams (outside linebacker), Bashaud Breeland (cornerback), Chris Culliver (cornerback), Johnson/Ihenacho (strong safety) and Dashon Goldson (free safety). Cornerback David Amerson, meanwhile, was a constant on the field during the team's nickel package. * Why Tervardo Williams? Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan – who led the team with 13.5 sacks in 2014 – last week underwent minor surgery on his left knee, so he'll be out for a little bit, giving someone like Williams, a two-year pro out of Connecticut, a chance to show what he can do. *

The Washington Redskins announced Friday, March 13, 2015, the signing of free agent defensive lineman Terrance Knighton. Here's a gallery of photos from his career.

Knighton is a big dude. The "Pot Roast" nickname is already enough for fans to love this guy, but Gruden said Knighton has elite hands and a very quick first step for a guy of his size. Opposing teams won't exactly enjoy running the ball at No. 98's direction this season. * The Redskins this season are utilizing a quarterbacks coach for the first time under Gruden, and that man, Matt Cavanaugh, is a lot like Callahan – he's everywhere. In front of the quarterbacks, beside them, behind them – he's evaluating everything they do on every play, something that should greatly benefit those playing the position. * Second-year wide receiver Ryan Grant flashed on a few plays. He looked especially good on one play in press coverage against Breeland, breaking free to make the catch. Grant – who had a terrific preseason last year – should definitely make his case as the Redskins' fourth receiver in 2015. *

On the very first play of the team portion of practice, quarterback Robert Griffin III handed off to Alfred Morris, immediately drawing a yell of "Go get the ball!" from new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Barry wants every defensive player to touch the ballcarrier before their work on the play is done in practice, as evidenced by Hatcher sprinting from the far sideline just to touch Morris far after the play was over. * Rookie wide receiver Reggie Bell made a nice grab on a pass over the middle – in heavy traffic – from quarterback Kirk Cousins. Bell, an undrafted free agent out of San Diego, is hoping to make an early impression. * Culliver, a free-agent acquisition, made a nice play to stop a run by rookie running back Matt Jones, drawing a "Nice job, Cully!" from first-year defensive backs coach Perry Fewell. We also learned Goldson's nickname among the players and coaching staff is "D-Go." So there's that. * Wide receiver Andre Roberts made a really nice play to adjust to a slightly off-target throw from Griffin III and make the catch. Roberts – the team's third receiver a year ago – has been a constant at Redskins Park this offseason, working hard to improve his numbers both as a receiver and a returner in 2015. * And, finally, for those interested in uniform-related nuggets, two players – Chris Thompson and Pierre Garçon – were rocking the white football pants at practice on Tuesday. Everyone else was either wearing shorts or sweats. We anticipate more Redskins players will don the white practice pants the remainder of the offseason and training camp. The white pants are popular among Redskins fans in the social media world, but it's unknown as of now if the team will use them in a game in 2015.

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