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Practice Notes 8/22: The Secondary Continues To Shine

Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team
Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team

The Washington Football Team was back on the field in full pads Saturday, but head coach Ron Rivera was not pleased with the effort he saw.

Rivera felt like the practice started well enough and the team maintained a solid tempo, but he felt players' performances started to wane as practice went on, and he later told reporters that what he saw "wasn't good enough."

He felt the defense played well and the quarterbacks made good decisions at times. But overall, the team did not perform to his standard. He told the team his ultimate goal is to advance and win a Super Bowl at some point in his tenure, and in order for that to become a reality, the team "has to take ownership."

Here's what we learned from Saturday's practice.

OFFENSE:

-- Rivera said each of the quarterbacks "had their moments" and made good decisions early in practice. In 9-on-9 drills, Dwayne Haskins Jr., Kyle Allen and Alex Smith all received reps. Allen was the most efficient during the session; he went 6 of 6, including two passes to Bryce Love and one to Peyton Barber. Haskins completed passes to Terry McLaurin and J.D. McKissic to finish 4 of 6. Smith attempted three passes and had one completion to Barber.

Haskins' most efficient stretch came during the two-minute drill. He completed four of his first five passes and was 4 of 8 overall. He targeted McLaurin on five of those plays and completed three passes. Allen, on the other hand, threw two interceptions and was 2 of 5.

-- Morgan Moses and Geron Christian Sr. both returned to practice after their day off, and the offensive line performed better against the pass rush compared to Thursday's practice. Outside of one play during the two-minute drill that Rivera classified as a sack, both Haskins and Allen played without pressure for much of the session.

-- Logan Thomas and Marcus Baugh continue to be the primary tight ends in team drills. Thomas receives the most playing time of the two, but Baugh is the other featured tight end in 12 personnel (one running back and two tight ends). Baugh and Thomas have also started to work with the wide receivers during individual warmups while the rest of the position finished the period with tight ends coach Peter Hoener.

-- Wes Martin has been the starting left guard for most of the past three padded practices, but after Saturday's session, Rivera said he wants to see more from him. He told reporters after practice that Martin is a player who has a chance of taking the open spot at left guard, but he also said Martin needs to "grasp that reality." That involves creating better communication between himself, the center and whoever is beside him at left tackle and playing more consistently.

The Washington Football team conducts training camp at the Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Virginia, on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. (Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team)

DEFENSE:

-- The defense frequently lined up in its nickel formation during team drills. Groups like the secondary are starting to create more consistency, while others (the defensive line and linebackers) are still rotating players. The coaching staff seems to like the secondary combination of Kendall Fuller, Troy Apke, Landon Collins and Ronald Darby with Jimmy Moreland as the starting nickelback.

At linebacker, Cole Holcomb and Jon Bostic were the starters for the first session of 11-on-11 and the two-minute drills. Matt Ioannidis replaced Daron Payne as the starting interior defensive linemen next to Jonathan Allen.

-- Apke has been a player Rivera said the coaches are "taking a long look at" to be the starting free safety, and he made a play Saturday that showed why he appears to be the frontrunner for that spot. On the final play of the first-team's two-minute drill, Apke delivered a hit on Steven Sims Jr. and broke up a pass that would have extended the drive. Apke was also seen talking with Collins before every play, strengthening that bond of communication Collins likes to have with his fellow safeties.

-- "The people's corner" is back, as Moreland was active as the starting nickel corner. Players weren't allowed to purposefully take each other to the ground, but he put himself in situations where he would have made tackles for a loss. He also intercepted a pass from Haskins in the final session of 11-on-11 drills.

-- Speaking of interceptions, Greg Stroman has developed a knack for picking off passes in the last two practices. He had one interception during Thursday's practice and got the first pick of the day during two-minute drills against Allen.

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