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Practice Notes: 2015 #SkinsCamp, Day 7

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Redskins.com's Andrew Walker and Stephen Czarda break down the key plays and highlights from Day 6 of the Washington Redskins' 2015 training camp in Richmond, Va.


OFFENSE:

-- Obviously the main storyline on Thursday was about how the young right side of the Redskins' offensive line would hold up against Texans All-World defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt obviously comes in as a two-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and has been unstoppable since entering the league in 2011 out of Wisconsin, including last season's Week 1 loss to the Texans in Houston. On Thursday, second-year right tackle Morgan Moses and rookie right guard Brandon Scherff each got plenty of reps against Watt, and both held their ground for the most part against the All-Pro. Watt broke free for one clear easy sack on a swim move against Moses and batted down a pass in 11-on-11 drills, but Moses and Scherff otherwise did a good job keeping him out of the backfield (and Robert Griffin III's face).

-- Wide receiver DeSean Jackson left Thursday's practice after suffering what appeared to be a shoulder injury during 1-on-1 drills. On the very first play, Jackson made the catch, but ran into a tackling sled on the sideline. He would go in for an evaluation and then return to the field, but he did not participate in the rest of practice. We'll get you an update as soon as we hear anything.

-- Jamison Crowder simply stole the show on Thursday. In his first-ever action against NFL competition not wearing a burgundy practice jersey, Crowder was making catches all over the field, whether it was during 1-on-1, 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills. The highlight of the day was during 1-on-1 drills, when Crowder was lined up against Texans top cornerback Kareem Jackson. Jackson was already providing Crowder plenty of room upon the snap, and gave the rookie out of Duke an opportunity to simply sprint forward 15 yards, make one nasty juke to his left and off he went to the right to receive the pass from Griffin III. Where was Jackson, you ask? On the grass, juked almost out of his cleats. Don't worry – he turned his head in enough time to watch Crowder receive the pass and sprint towards the end zone.

-- Running back Matt Jones returned to the team practice drills on Thursday after sitting out the past couple of days with a sore knee, and he showed the toughness that has been advertised since his selection out of Florida in May's NFL Draft on one play in particular. On 3rd and 3, Jones, who was running with the second-team offense, received the handoff from Kirk Cousins and sprinted to his left before lowering his shoulder around the line of scrimmage, plowing forward to pick up four yards for the first down. If Jones keeps progressing the way the Redskins are hoping he does – and takes the No. 2 running back job behind Alfred Morris – the Redskins have two extremely tough runners to throw at opposing defenses in 2015.

-- Colt McCoy was on the end of a bad-luck interception during 11-on-11 third-team drills. On a throw across the middle, rookie wide receiver Quinton Dunbar went up and attempted a one-hand catch, which tipped away and into the hands of Texans safety Corey Moore. I couldn't tell if Dunbar wasn't able to use his other hand or if he was trying to be flashy, but you can bet both he and McCoy wish they could have that one back.

-- During a red zone drill, the first-team offense was unable to punch it in starting 1st and Goal from the Houston 7-yard line. On the first play, Griffin III rolled out to Watt's side – he might've been able to tackle the quarterback in a game situation – and found tight end Jordan Reed for a couple yards. After a Morris two-yard run – and a Texans timeout – Chris Thompson was unable to punch it in from three yards out, leading to a likely chip shot field goal.

Check out images of veteran tight end Niles Paul during the 2015 offseason.

-- The second-team offense, led by Cousins, had a much better red zone drill. Starting 1st and Goal from the Houston 8, Cousins attempted to connect with rookie wide receiver Evan Spencer in the back of the end zone, and the refs called pass interference on the Texans' defender. After Jones was stood up on a run from the 5-yard line, Gruden had the offense face a 3rd and Goal from the 4. Cousins threw a beautifully-placed back shoulder pass to tight end Niles Paul, which was caught for the touchdown.

-- Trent Williams was being Trent Williams on Thursday. In a 1-on-1 drill against Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, Williams absolutely mauled the fourth-year pro out of Illinois. But perhaps the play that got the most "Oohs" out of the crowd came from first-year offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe. Nsekhe put all of his 6-foot-8, 325-pound frame into his defender and drove him into the ground, and gave him another little jolt before the play was whistled dead.


DEFENSE:

-- One of the most notable attributes of the Texans' offense was how big their wide receivers are. After practice, safety Duke Ihenacho acknowledged the fact it was different to go against some of their receivers, including rookie Jaelen Strong and DeAndre Hopkins, but they also weren't as quick. There were several times in 7-on-7 drills that their receivers snagged balls right at their peak despite solid coverage from the Redskins defensive backs.

-- An injury update: DeAngelo Hall left 11-on-11 drills after landing awkwardly and then proceeding to clutch his left leg. He was seen on the sidelines a little bit after appearing to walk just find, but there currently isn't any significant news yet on the severity of the injury. We'll have more on that later.

-- There were several times during 11-on-11 drills that Ryan Kerrigan's array of pass-rush moves were simply too much for Derek Newton, as the Purdue product could have gotten to the quarterback on more than one occasion.

-- Trey Wolfe snagged an interception during 11-on-11 drills, playing perfect coverage and reading Texans quarterback Tom Savage all the way through the play. With the cornerback depth already being tested by the injury bug just a week into training camp, plays like these could go a big way for a the young guys.

-- While they still can't go full-out tackling, you can see that, if given time, Martrell Spaight can put quite a pop into players. In college, this was nicknamed "Spaighting." On one play in particular during 7-on-7 drills, Spaight could have easily put wide receiver Keith Mumphery down for the count.

-- The Texans' offensive line is used to going against quick and powerful defensive lineman like J.J. Watt, but that doesn't mean they were prepared for Stephen Paea. During 1-on-1 drills Paea twice wrapped right around their right tackle with ease.

Check out images of veteran safety Dashon Goldson during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.

-- The first-team defense was impressive against the Texans during the second to last drill session of the day. The Texans, starting at their own 35-yard line, started off strong, connecting on their first four plays before a false start penalty slowed their momentum. Then, on 3rd-and-4, Ihenacho picked up on Brian Hoyer's read and got a hand on his pass before Dashon Goldson intercepted it. With the coaches letting the offense play on, Trent Murphy would have gotten a clear shot on Hoyer for a sack just two plays later. Again, this is what the coaches want to see out of the unit. Turnovers and big plays.

-- Practice ended with some down-and-goal work with each unit starting from the eight-yard line. The first-team struggled during their set of plays, giving up a touchdown to Hopkins on a 2nd-and-goal play from the 6-yard line. Hopkins found space despite Goldson and cornerback Justin Rogers being in the area. The Texans targeted Rogers on their next drive, but the University of Richmond product forced an incompletion. It looked as if the Texans were going to go two-for-two in this session for two touchdowns, but the refs ultimately called holding.


SPECIAL TEAMS:

-- The kicking competition between incumbent starter Kai Forbath and rookie challenger Ty Long continued on Thursday. During field goal drills near the end of practice, Long connected on 3-of-5 kicks (three makes from 33, 36 and 43 yards and two misses from 45 and 50 yards), while Forbath connected on 3-of-4 kicks (makes from 38, 40 and 45 yards and a miss from 50). Forbath didn't have five attempted kicks because of a little trickey on the Redskins' behalf. The team faked a field goal, with Forbath throwing a high, wobbly pass towards the end zone towards two big men. In the end, Morgan Moses and Mercilus each got two hands on the ball, but the stronger Moses eventually ripped it from his grip for the touchdown.

-- The Redskins aren't going to prevent established starters from contributing to the special teams units. In one instance, Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson was placed on the kickoff coverage team and wasn't shy about sprinting down the sideline and making a hit on the Texans returner. In another instance, big Terrance Knighton was placed at left guard for the team's field goal protection unit. I can't even imagine trying to get by that knee lock.

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