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Practice Notes 8/24: Washington's Offense Is Starting To Make Progress

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

Maybe head coach Ron Rivera's speech after Saturday's practice struck a chord with the offense, or maybe the system is starting to click with the players. Either way, the unit has improved over the past two days.

The offense put forth one of its better performances Sunday, and that trend continued Monday with the unit putting together another strong practice. The wide receivers ran sharp routes and running backs found open lanes. Dwayne Haskins Jr. also built on the success he had Sunday by throwing five touchdowns throughout the session.

Rivera said Haskins' decisions are starting to match his accuracy, especially during two-minute drills, which is what he wants to see from the second-year quarterback.

"The two-minute drive was an excellent precursor to what we talk about. He took it, he took it and then all of a sudden you saw the defense getting impatient, and then all of a sudden he hit a couple of deeper balls. Now, all of a sudden he's got the option of throwing the ball short underneath or throwing it right through the middle of the defense. He did a nice job. He preserved our timeouts, so he was able to move us down the field."

Here's what we learned from Monday's practice:

OFFENSE:

-- Haskins started off his day completing a pass to J.D. McKissic during 11-on-11 drills, which seemed to build his confidence for the entire practice. His strongest connection is with Terry McLaurin, but he also completed passes to Cam Sims and threw a touchdown pass to Steven Sims Jr. Rivera said he's looking for Haskins to make the right plays as opposed to the big plays, and "he made a bunch of the right plays today."

-- Kyle Allen told reporters that Antonio Gibson is starting to learn how to play fast, and that was on display during the first 11-on-11 session. Gibson broke free on two separate occasions, prompting running backs coach Randy Jordan to yell, "There you go! There you go!" before praising Gibson's patience on the runs.

-- In the red zone, Haskins has established a clear chemistry with his tight ends. He threw touchdown passes to Jeremy Sprinkle and Logan Thomas, both of whom were open in the end zone, during goal line drills. Rivera said Thomas is showing himself to be a good target for Haskins, and he called Sprinkle the stoutest player at the position. Rivera also called Marcus Baugh the most athletically gifted player of the group. Baugh has received a good portion of first-team reps so far in camp.

-- The highlight of the day, and possibly of the entire training camp, came during the two-minute drill. Haskins methodically directed the offense down the field, completing 5 of his 8 passes. His final throw of the day was a 25-yard strike to McLaurin, who beat cornerback Greg Stroman to make the catch in the end zone. McLaurin punted the ball in celebration before the entire offense came over to congratulate him.

DEFENSE:

-- Chase Young made his return to team drills when he lined up for goal line work. It was limited action, but that's all he needed to show off his talent. As Allen dropped back for a pass, Young rushed off the edge and batted down the throw with ease.

-- Washington continued to tinker with its starting lineups during 11-on-11 drills. Cole Holcomb and Jon Bostic were the starting linebackers in nickel defense, while Troy Apke, Landon Collins, Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller were again the first-team secondary. Deshazor Everett also received some time with the starters at free safety, and later in practice, Thomas Davis Sr. joined Bostic and Holcomb among the starting linebackers.

-- After a strong performance from the offense in the first 11-on-11 session, the defense responded with two forced fumbles. The first came from Montez Sweat, who forced the ball free from McLaurin. The second came two plays later when Apke delivered a hit on Thomas. It appeared as if Thomas was going to run into the end zone unopposed, but then Apke came in and jarred the ball loose.

-- The defense has been physical during padded practices, and Rivera said that is happening organically because players are practicing hard. He said it's difficult to simulate the physicality that players will see in games, but he hopes it will come naturally to them because of the work they've put in during training camp.

-- The secondary has developed a habit of forcing turnovers, and defensive backs coach Chris Harris has started calling the group "Gotham City." It's unclear if the nickname will catch on, but it does speak to how well the unit has played so far.

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