RICHMOND, Virginia -- Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins looked for Terrelle Pryor Sr. on the slant, but the play was covered, the pocket was starting to collapse, so he had to improvise on a red zone play.
That alone is a good step for Cousins, who has done this on occasion but needs to do it more inside the 20-yard line. Coaches continue to preach the need to extend plays in this area; Cousins improved in 2016, but he can do it more often.
A key here, though, was the presence of Pryor. He's not only a former quarterback who understands what he'd want from a receiver in this situation, he's also nearly 6-foot-5. So the minute Cousins moved to his left, he pointed and Pryor immediately pivoted and headed for the corner. That's where Cousins lofted a ball that only Pryor could reach. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who took away the slant, was in good position after retreating. Cornerback Kendall Fuller was right there, too.
It didn't matter. Pryor made the grab, got his feet down and then spun the ball on the ground to celebrate. The play should serve as a reminder to Cousins that extending plays inside the 20 is a good thing, especially with a guy like Pryor. On this play, it broke well -- the area behind him was free of any defenders, so it made it easier. That won't always be the case. Also, Cousins had room to flee to his left; there have been times the pocket is pinched and there's nowhere to go.
Another time earlier in camp, Cousins ran to his right and forced a ball that Fuller intercepted. But Pryor's height provides a different security blanket. At times, all Cousins will need to do is loft it up high and trust one person has a shot.
1. It's an interesting battle at nose tackle, where no one has a true idea of what's going on thanks to the constant rotating. Phil Taylor Sr. would be a terrific story if he's able to somehow win the job, having gone from a first-round pick in 2011 to out of the league in 2014 (thanks to injuries). The Redskins first liked how he looked in a workout during the middle of the 2016 season. He's shown power; at times he'll get a little too upright. But a nose tackle has to be able to move laterally, too, and Taylor has shown that at times. "Everyone likes to see a big man downfield," he said. If they can't do that, then they'd be saving a roster spot for someone who plays 10-12 snaps a game. Joey Mbu has impressed at times, too -- he beat center Spencer Long in a one-on-one and then rookie Chase Roullier in full-team work.
2. Line coach Jim Tomsula has done a good job developing nose tackles over the years. Do not just look at size: Of Tomsula's four primary nose tackles with San Francisco, two weighed between 320-330 (Aubrayo Franklin, Isaac Sopoaga); the other two were about 300 (Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams). That's why the Redskins will be OK if one of the big men -- Taylor, Mbu, A.J. Francis -- don't win the job. Stacy McGee, working more at end, does weigh 340. But I don't want to minimize this position; those 10-12 plays are important and they must get production from whoever starts. The trickle-down effect -- good or bad -- is big.
3. Rookie tight end Jeremy Sprinkle's size will make a difference, as long as he shows he deserves a spot. The games will determine that, but in practice you can see it. He might not create a lot of separation, but his size -- he's not just tall, but big at 6-foot-5, 252 pounds -- makes him a good target. He's just another guy you can throw to even if he appears covered. Sunday, he caught a ball inside the 10-yard line, was hit by a defensive back and it barely seemed to slow him. It's too early to say how good Sprinkle will be, but he's yet another rookie who has flashed in practice.
4. Undrafted free agent Kyle Kalis received snaps at left guard with the second unit throughout full-team drills Sunday. Kalis seems to be consistent with his technique -- that was true in the spring, too. Again, the games will determine his fate -- whether that's on practice squad or whether he has a legit shot at a roster spot. Coaches put guys in new spots if they've been showing something against lower units. Arie Kouandjio had been working in this spot through Saturday; clearly, he'll have to show more if he wants to make the team a third straight year. It'll be a big preseason for him.