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Redskins upbeat about QB RG III; DB injuries a concern

RICHMOND, Va. -- A few observations from training camp, which ended Monday:

  • The Washington Redskins continue to be upbeat regarding quarterback Robert Griffin III. There clearly is a concerted effort to avoid mistakes of the past in terms of criticizing him publicly and in some cases privately. Nothing wrong with that -- I don't blame them for being this way at all -- but it was one notable difference in camp. As for his play, Griffin at times looked sharp and other times inconsistent. There is a feeling that he's done a better job going through progressions, etc. His deep ball has looked good this summer; the fade route in the red zone has not. I can’t say that I’ve seen huge changes in his pocket movement -- but the games will help more considering in practice some plays are continued that would have been sacks. I think the coaches will limit his time in that area with play designs: screens, bootlegs, quick outs/hitches and deep play-action. He will still have to improve, but they do know that if the run game doesn’t work they will struggle. Griffin did look more relaxed than even last summer. But to hold onto the No. 1 job for an extended time, there is still more to prove as you would, or at least should, expect. This was the first step for Griffin.

  • However, as has been written many times, nobody else has proven they should be the No. 1 guy. Others have skills to like, but the flaws (interceptions, arm strength, whatever) have prevented them from either holding onto the job or convincing everyone in the organization that they are a better alternative. They have Kirk Cousins as the No. 2 for now, and I would agree he’s ahead of Colt McCoy based on what we’ve seen.

  • I love the versatility along the defensive line. They have more than one rusher who can help them inside, allowing them to stay fresh and to not collapse if one has nagging injuries (see: Jason Hatcher, 2014).

  • Linebacker Junior Galette's explosiveness off the edge will be welcomed by the coaches. I haven’t seen a guy get that low in his four-point stance in a while. Now the Redskins have two edge rushers who can turn the corner, something they did not have before Galette’s signing. If they get the interior push they’re expecting, then the outside guys will feast.

  • The question will then be how the secondary holds up. It’s real tough to say how much they have improved, if any, in the back four because of the injuries. Still a lot to prove here, and we won’t know until the first group works together for a few weeks how it will go. Even if they are veterans, they need experience working together to understand how they interpret routes and formations. Makes a difference.

  • The right side of the offensive line -- Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses -- is big and could be powerful, but they remain a work in progress (as they should be given their ages). There will be issues mixed with moments where they look good (Scherff is a powerful man). If you’re building a new line and new attitude up front, it takes time -- and they won’t be as good now as they might be in a couple years. Patience will be required; the goal is to (finally) build something lasting. When that’s the goal, immediate returns are often inconsistent. I do like how running back Alfred Morris has looked behind this line.

  • Of the rookies, the one I liked watching most is receiver Jamison Crowder, but the hamstring injury has sidelined him since Aug. 7. Still, his quickness is legit and he sets up defenders with excellent moves. I have said this before, but, when healthy, he could really push Andre Roberts for that slot role (Ryan Grant is not a slot receiver). Love how quick Crowder’s hands are when pulling the ball out of the air, allowing him to get quickly into his cuts.

  • Of the 10 rookies (with one gone already in Tevin Mitchel), I can see seven or eight making the final roster. If center Austin Reiter sticks around, it would have to be on the practice squade.

  • Having a new defensive staff and a couple new coaches on offense helped alter the atmosphere. It’s not like the previous staffs had no energy, but with change comes new energy and it was needed. How that translates to the season I don’t know, because injuries will factor in, but it was good. Energy doesn’t just mean guys yelling and screaming; it’s the passion and approach a guy like defensive coordinator Joe Barry brings. The tough part comes next: Proving that it can pay off in-season.

  • The tight end situation is tough. To run the way they want, they will need a lot of help from this position and must get it figured out after the injuries. Still feel terrible for Niles Paul: The guy has worked awfully hard to reach this point, and it was taken away before the games began.