NOTE: Redskins players have Sunday off. NO PRACTICE on Sunday.**
Fan Appreciation Day may still be a week away, but the Redskins faithful packed the sidelines at Redskins Park today for the biggest crowd of Redskins Training Camp 2012.
Those in attendance were treated to the first padded practice of the preseason, and players responded with a more aggressive play style than they've shown in the first two days.
It was a good practice to observe position battles, as some of the reserve players made the most of their increased opportunities.
On offense, receiver Brandon Banks has embraced head coach Mike Shanahan's challenge to be a threat on offense, catching nearly everything thrown his way. Banks did have one two-handed drop during full-team drills, but also hauled in four consecutive completions.
On defense, rookie linebacker Keenan Robinson showed off his coverage skills, making an athletic grab on a Kirk Cousins pass way over his head. Robinson plucked the ball out of the air over the middle and returned it back up the sidelines.
The rookie-on-rookie crime continued two plays later, as rookie defensive back Richard Crawford picked off a pass in the flats and returned it back to the crowd of onlooking players.
Coaches seem to have thrown down the gauntlet for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, including sending a steady pass rush to force decisions and disrupt timing. While he has taken a few would-be sacks, Griffin III has also shown an increased comfort in checking down to his running backs and tight ends.
Another facet of the playbook was opened today, as Griffin III ran four option plays during full-team drills. Twice, Griffin III kept the ball, racing to the numbers and cutting upfield through the defense. Twice, Griffin III pitched to the running back, once fumbling to Roy Helu Jr., before completing the pitch to Evan Royster.
Players said after practice that suiting up in pads was a good way to end the week, and the players' day off tomorrow was well-received.
Practice will resume on Monday afternoon, with the fourth training camp practice open to the public.