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Practice Notes 8/31: Washington Gears Up For Regular Season With Practice At FedExField

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During a typical year, the Washington Football Team would play two preseason games at FedExField.

But this is far from a typical year. The novel coronavirus prompted the NFL to eliminate preseason games, meaning the first time Washington will play at its home stadium will be Week 1 against Philadelphia.

To prepare for perhaps the most unusual season opener in franchise history -- there will be no fans due to COVID-19 restrictions -- Washington wrapped up training camp with a 90-minute session in Landover, Maryland. With faux crowd noise blaring, the team rehearsed pregame warmups before settling into a typical practice routine. Helmets and shells made for a lighter workout, but head coach Ron Rivera seemed pleased with what the team accomplished.

"We wanted to give our guys a chance to see what it was like communicating," Rivera said. "We did have a little bit of a hiccup early on in the first portion of the two-minute [drill] -- a little communication [issue] between Scott [Turner] and Dwayne [Haskins] -- but they seemed to get that worked out pretty well, so that was good to see.

"And again, it was important for our players to come down and get a feel for our stadium."

The Washington Football team conducts training camp at the Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Virginia, on Aug. 30, 2020. (Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team)

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

OFFENSE:

-- Following a pair of three-and-outs in the red zone, Dwayne Haskins Jr. gained some confidence during the next period with a laser to Steven Sims Jr. along the right sideline.

Haskins carried that momentum into his next series, which included a 15-yard completion to Dontrelle Inman with two defenders close by. And on the next play, Haskins dropped back, rolled out to the right and fired a pass to tight end Marcus Baugh for a 15-yard score. It was one of two touchdowns Haskins threw to Baugh in the session.

Haskins' final team period appeared destined for another touchdown, as he completed four of his five passes during the two-minute drill. But then, as Rivera put it, Haskins got greedy. He tried to hit his receiver down the right sideline, but cornerback Ronald Darby was right there for the interception. "A veteran corner baited him into a mistake," Rivera said.

Despite the miscue, Rivera praised Haskins after practice for his overall growth, leadership and development since training camp began.

"This year, obviously as a team we're at a handicap, but for a quarterback, the guy really has to learn," Rivera said about Haskins. "This has been tough; I thought he's handled it very well. He's gotten a lot of good work in. He's worked with [quarterbacks coach] Ken Zampese and the other quarterbacks. You see the growth, you really do. Again, we still have a ways to go, but it's promising. And that's probably the best thing you can say about it, too, that he's showing those moments that really tells you he's learning."

-- For the second time in three practices, Alex Smith participated in an 11-on-11 period. The players were not in full pads for either session, but he still had to deal with a full pass rush. Smith threw four passes during the eight-play session Monday, including an apparent touchdown to Peyton Barber. The other throws resulted in two incompletions and a dropped pass from Cam Sims.

"We like what Alex has been doing," Rivera said. "We like the growth we've seen. As we progress with about a week to go before we really start gearing up for the opener, we'll continue to work with him."

-- Adrian Peterson is not known for being a pass-catching back, but he's capable of producing in that area. He showed as much Monday when he caught three balls from Haskins, two of which came during the two-minute drill at the end of practice. Peterson has caught 37 passes since signing with Washington in 2018. He could exceed those numbers in offensive coordinator Scott Turner's offense, which often targets running backs in the passing game.

-- Tight end Logan Thomas has been Haskins' favorite red zone target, but Baugh assumed that role Monday. He caught two touchdowns from his former Ohio State teammate and would have hauled in another if not for Fabian Moreau breaking up a pass in the end zone. Thomas still seems to be the No.1 tight end, but Baugh has also received a bunch of first-team work.

-- With Antonio Gandy-Golden sidelined recently with an injury, fellow wideout Isaiah Wright has received some valuable reps with the second team. He made one of his best offensive plays of training camp Monday; streaking down the left sideline, Wright turned back towards Kyle Allen and quickly located the pass. He then made a twisting, leaping catch as a defender flew past, resulting in a big gain.

"He's done a nice job. He's handled it well," Rivera said of Wright. "He's got a way to go. He's not quite ready for prime time -- at least not yet -- but he's shown that he has some skillsets and you see the flashes."

DEFENSE:

-- Chase Young treated Monday like gameday. From getting on the bus to stepping foot on the field that's about 12 minutes from his house, Young operated with that mindset.

"It's really just going to a different zone," Young said. "When I put the helmet on, I'm not Chase Young anymore. I turn into something different."

Young showed flashes of dominance Monday. On one play, Young powered past Morgan Moses and set the left edge, leaving Barber with nowhere to run. On another, Young broke through the left side of the line and nearly chased down Haskins before he released the ball on the run.

"I would've gotten him out there, but we can't touch the quarterbacks," Young said of the play. "When you have one of your good friends as quarterback and are able to compete against him [every] day, that just makes you bring more juice every day."

-- Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen did not practice Monday and wore a sleeve on his left leg, which he injured in practice Sunday. However, Rivera did not seem concerned while talking about Allen after practice Sunday.

"He got rolled up on, but it doesn't look serious," Rivera said. "He wanted to go back out there."

-- Cornerback Kendall Fuller also did not practice Monday. Rivera said Sunday that Fuller was dealing with a "little nagging injury" and that the team is being cautious with him. He related Fuller's injury to that of Young, who suffered a hip flexor injury Aug.19 and was limited the next couple of days. Moreau and Jimmy Moreland rotated in in his place and both made a few plays Monday.

-- It seemed fitting that Darby snagged an interception during his final snap of training camp. Darby, who came over from Philadelphia this offseason, has been one of the biggest defensive standouts over the past month. Darby is slated to start opposite Fuller when Washington hosts Darby's former team Sept.13.

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