On Saturday afternoon, the Washington Redskins held their fifth open practice session of camp, playing in front of the largest crowd yet at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center.
Total attendance between the two sessions today added up to 15,124 rowdy fans, and constituted nearly half of the 34,882 total attendees to camp so far.
Fans were treated to a third straight day of sunny skies and cool temperatures, and of course, red-hot Redskins action.
New wrinkles were added to today's program, as players competed in the first round of 1-on-1 battles during position drills.
The highlight matchups were receivers vs. cornerbacks, as Aldrick Robinson smoked David Amerson on a deep route, and Leonard Hankerson dropped a deep reception lined up against Richard Crawford.
After practice, head coach Mike Shanahan noted consistency as a goal for Hankerson, noting that this is the time of year to work out the kinks and prepare for the season.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is still relegated to 7-on-7 drills, where he drew ovations for his 8-for-10 completed passes.
His biggest round of applause actually came on a play when he was unable to find an open receiver. Running to his left, Griffin III kept his eyes downfield before tucking the ball and running past the line of scrimmage.
As defenders gingerly closed in on the franchise quarterback, Griffin III went into an exaggerated slide that drew raucous applause from fans. Griffin III grinned as he ran back to the huddle.
Here are some other observations from today's portion of practice that was open to the media:
- Running back Roy Helu Jr. has been a part of the regular rotation since returning from injury over the offseason. On one play during 11-on-11 drills, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan burst into the backfield and wrapped him up with a play-stopping bear hug. Helu Jr. found success later during 7-on-7 drills, catching a swing pass out of the backfield and racing downfield past linebacker Perry Riley.
- Third-year receiver Aldrick Robinson has been a consistent target from Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III, getting plenty of opportunities to carve out his role in the offense. Today, he impressed on several occasions, including a 25-yard reception from Griffin III on a crossing pattern over the middle. Like many other receivers on this roster, Robinson is most dangerous when he has the ball in his hands, as he showed with his run after the catch.
- Rookie tight end Jordan Reed has been thrown into the mix immediately after returning from injury and practicing for the first time with teammates on Thursday. On draft day, Shanahan said that Reed's skillset was a combination not seen very often in an athlete, and he showed his gritty side today, chasing a Kirk Cousins pass that sailed out of bounds and matching the catch. He tried hard to stop himself before running into the crowd, but a wall of hands buffered his collision course, and he trotted back to the huddle.
- Kirk Cousins has had his opportunities limited since Griffin III's return, but he continues to show his comfort with the system, employing hard counts to draw the defense offsides. He is also putting in extra time, throwing extra after practice with Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman and Pat White today.
- Redskins receivers Donte' Stallworth and Pierre Garcon did not practice this afternoon, joining veteran linebacker London Fletcher as onlookers for practice. For Stallworth, head coach Mike Shanahan confirmed it was a tweaked hamstring this morning that led to his absence in the afternoon. For Fletcher and Garcon, it was purely precautionary as the two work themselves back into playing shape after missing most offseason workouts with injury. With tomorrow's off day, they should be available for practice again on Monday, but may be rested as needed throughout training camp.
- Kai Forbath was the star of special teams practice today, lining up for eight field goal attempts and knocking seven through. This might sound average, until you consider that his only miss was from 64 yards, which if hit in a regular season game, would be an NFL record. He struck true from 23, 30, 36, 41, 48, 53 and 58 yards. His two kicks from 53 and 58 yards would likely have been good from 60-plus, as they struck dead-center, midway up the uprights.
- Also on special teams, Keith Burns had players practicing kickoff coverage and blocking drills. Richard Crawford seemed to get the primary opportunities out of the drills, following his blocks and looking for the textbook creases in the coverage. He did not return any kicks last year but took over the primary punt return duties in Week 14. He was joined back deep by rookies Nick Williams, Chris Thompson and Skye Dawson.
Play(s) Of The Day: Offense
This was not a day that featured as many highlight throws deep downfield, but there were still plays to admire on intermediate routes, which may be more indicative than deep receptions on busted coverages.
In the final round of 11-on-11 drills, Rex Grossman hit tight end Niles Paul with a laser over the middle, which Paul turned into a 30-yard gain.
Even at 233 pounds, Paul is one of the fastest players on the team and has an opportunity to seize playing time on offense if he can show consistent production.
He noted earlier this offseason that he feels a lot more comfortable in the tight end position this season, and is looking to make an impact moving forward.
Play(s) Of The Day: Defense
There were a number of tipped passes at the line of scrimmage that led to errant redirections, but the finest defensive play likely goes to a newomer, cornerback Ryan Mouton who joined the team as a free agent earlier this week.
Mouton is an established veteran and faces an uphill battle making the roster against a deep secondary competition that can been working all offseason.
With that being said, Mouton has had a noteworthy play in each of his first two days with the team, today picking off Pat White during the final round of 11-on-11 drills at the end of the practice.
It was difficult to determine if it was a misthrow or miscommunication on the play, but Mouton was relatively alone down the sideline and was able to turn in a nice return after the interception.
The Redskins have a scheduled off-day tomorrow, resting up from the first three days of practice and getting ready for Monday. The team will be back on a regular schedule next week, with two practices per day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Next week builds to a crescendo with Fan Appreciation Day 2013 and a special 1 p.m. practice. For more information on the event, check out the schedule page.
As always, fans are encouraged to arrive early and bring your official training camp pass.
An unnamed Redskins player and head coach Mike Shanahan will hold press conferences each day, streamed live on Redskins.com
For your official source of training camp news, follow along @Redskins.