A few leftover notes for a Monday:
Clayton’s a believer? It’s funny how wide-ranging the expectations are for the Redskins this season. Considering they only won three games, they should be improved. It’s easy to write a script that sees them contending for a playoff spot: Robert Griffin III rebounds; the offense cuts down on turnovers; the pass rush helps enough to improve the defense; the special teams is much better. But it’s also easy to temper those expectations: The defense didn’t do enough to get better and is aging; first-year head coach; Griffin does not progress enough as a passer. I do think Griffin will improve just based on having a full NFL offseason for the first time. They also play in a division that is not strong. But there are still a lot of unknowns about this team (it is only June after all). Anyway, ESPN’s John Clayton likes them as well. Check out his answer (or he's just not high on the Giants or Cowboys. Regardless, it's in his reply to a question on the Eagles) in this week's mailbag.
Comeback player of the year? Griffin received an award no player really wants this past offseason: The Ed Block Courage Award. It means they had some sort of injury to overcome. But that now gives him a chance to earn another one – the Comeback Player of the Year -- and NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling puts him at the top of the list of those who may win. As stated above, Griffin has had a good offseason and that should help his play on the field. I’d be surprised if he stays the same after spending more time on his fundamentals. The tough part is learning a new passing offense and that will require an adjustment. But it also will help having the talent he does around him in the passing game.
Sean Lee impact: Though he plays for a rival, Dallas linebacker Sean Lee will continue to be on the Redskins’ minds throughout spring workouts. Nobody wants to suffer the fate of Lee, who tore his ACL in an OTA workout last week. Redskins coach Jay Gruden said they discussed this with the players last week. The CBA is clear on contact during the spring (none is allowed). But it’s tough to have 11-on-11 workouts without some banging, bumping and tumbling bodies. Gruden said they talked about staying on their feet, “doing the best you can to avoid any kind of drag downs, pull downs, contact. But every now and then you’re going to have a collision, unfortunately, because it is football and guys are trying to show that they are doing right. We’re trying our best to police that and keep people up. It’s something we are definitely keeping an eye on.”
Rookie learning: At this time of year the coaches aren’t just focused on whether one of the rookies does well on a play or not. They’re having to learn so much that their heads are swimming with information. It can lead to slower play at times. Gruden said they’re looking at other aspects perhaps more. “You look for mental toughness in rookies,” he said. “You look for how they can handle some kind of adversity, some kind of failure and how they rebound from a poor play to the next play.”
New way: The Redskins’ training camp will be different just based on the schedule. The last two summers, under Mike Shanahan, the Redskins would conduct a walk-through in the morning (at 10 a.m.) and practice at 3:20 p.m. Shanahan switched to a walk-through first in 2012 under the belief that they could have a meeting, go over it slowly on the field, meet some more and then practice what they learned at full speed. This summer, they’ll go back to a more traditional way with an 8:35 a.m. practice and a 4:15 p.m. walk-through. Is one way better? Well, they tried both ways under Shanahan and won a division the first time and went 3-13 the next year. (Players typically felt Shanahan took care of them, too). The new way allows the players to work in less intense summer heat. Both coaches scheduled two days off before the first preseason game.