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Offseason review: Redskins pleased with progress
The Washington Redskins had plenty of work to do during offseason practices, which concluded on Wednesday with the end of minicamp.
Defensive players had to adjust to new coordinator Greg Manusky and a handful of new assistants, including Jim Tomsula (defensive line) and Torrian Gray (defensive backs).
On offense, the Redskins needed to see how their revamped wide receiver group jelled with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Offensive coordinator Sean McVay is now the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. That means head coach Jay Gruden got a start on installing his offense again. He will be the primary play-caller in 2017 for the first time in three years.
There were no major injuries, but wide receiver Josh Doctson and outside linebacker Junior Galette participated for most of OTAs and minicamp and provided confidence they will be ready to go full speed once training camp starts. Galette hasn't played since 2014 and Docston played in just two games as a rookie.
"The No. 1 goal, in my opinion, is for them to get stronger, work on their running and weightlifting and all of that stuff," Gruden said. "I think they accomplished that, they got stronger. Then we wanted to introduce a system, reintroduce it on offense, introduce Greg's new system, get it taught and then get out here and practice a little bit, do some situational work, which we did. So I feel like it was a good offseason program."
Gruden's group will now separate until training camp convenes in Richmond, Va., on July 27. Questions remain. Manusky still isn't sure how he will divide snaps at inside linebacker, where Pro Bowler Zach Brown joins holdovers Mason Foster and Will Compton. All three shared snaps during offseason work.
Safety remains a concern, though D.J. Swearinger looked comfortable at free safety. He signed as a free agent in March from Arizona. The receivers, especially Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder, looked strong and didn't miss a beat during OTAs or minicamp. Cousins, especially, thinks Pryor (6-foot-4) and Doctson (6-foot-2) will make Washington more efficient in the red zone, where it struggled so often in 2016.
The offensive line returns completely intact. The question for training camp is if there is enough depth at running back behind Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson. Fourth-round draft pick Samaje Perine shows promise after a wonderful career at Oklahoma, but will have to prove it during camp.
Gruden is overjoyed about the team's depth at tight end, where Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis set the tone, Niles Paul is healthy again and fifth-round draft pick Jeremy Sprinkle has impressed. The defensive line is still a work in progress with no starting spot a given yet, but Tomsula sees no reason first-round pick Jonathan Allen can't become a star.
"We just need to come back in the right frame of mind ready to work. That's all," Gruden said. "We're trying to just focus on our job, control what we can control and get to work. Everybody put their hand in the fire and let's go."