Thoughts following Thursday's first practice with the Houston Texans...
* That the Redskins used Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff at right tackle and right guard respectively in the final practice before facing the Texans had me believing this would be Thursday's lineup. That's exactly what happened and both received plenty of work against J.J. Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. More on those specific battles in a moment, but the real intrigue involves the actual lineup. Specifically, what does it mean that Scherff is playing inside?
Yes, the team selected the Iowa left tackle fifth overall with the stated intention of starting his NFL career at right tackle. Those focusing on "value" already had issues with taking a right tackle top five. But guard, yikes.
At this point, I subscribe to the theory Jay Gruden espoused when asked about whether five is indeed too high for a guard.
“Not if he is really, really good, no," Gruden said. "All you’re looking for with the fifth pick or any pick, you want somebody that is going to help your football team be successful and we feel like Brandon will do that.”
If Scherff develops into a Pro Bowl caliber guard, so what he if was drafted fifth or ninth or 12th. Sure, we can imagine trade down scenarios. So can general manager Scot McCloughan. He couldn't find what he felt was a good deal on draft day so he took the player he wanted, one who add that aggression McCloughan desired.
Most camp observers note Scherff has struggled on the outside, which plays a factor in using him at guard. Guess what. That's OK and here's why: He's a rookie.
"Anytime you come in as a rookie, I can tell you man, you're going to get your ass kicked regardless," Shawn Lauvao told me following Thursday's morning session when I asked where he thought about Scherff shuffling between spots. "I could care less if you're the number one pick overall."
That wasn't Lauvao suggesting Scherff is a mess, far from it. Just reminding those inquiring about position play that learning a new position, system and league can take a minute.
There's one reason I like the move. At guard, Scherff receives help from center Kory Lictensteiger. That tandem doubled Watt at times during practice. When slotted at tackle, Scherff's "help" is second-year guard Spencer Long, who is hardly proven.
My biggest beef with the Redskins offseason moves - well, other than not opening up the QB competition - involved having a solid veteran capable of stepping in on the right side if needed. Not saying they need to sign a high profile free agent, but someone capable of filling in AND showing provided a cushion for the rookie. Make the investment, go all the way. Counting on Long, another yikes.
If Scherff were crushing it at tackle, I doubt Moses starts. That the former second-year lineman is having a strong camp AND Scherff seems best suited for guard right now leads to this lineup.
My take is Moses jumped Long in the eyes of the organization. (This doesn't require a Carl Lewis or Russell Westbrook type leaping ability.) I mean, the first and second team designation says as much. But I can't comprehend that the decision makers would shift their first round pick all over the place for the purposes of putting Moses in over Long. That it works out so Washington has its best five out there, good fortune.
* As for Thursday's practice, both Moses and Scherff had some issues in one-on-one drills, but overall performed nicely. Communication is an underrated part of line play and the due seemed to be on the same page, whether that meant Moses peeled away to handle an edge rusher or Scherff trapping a linemen inside.
Watt pushed Scherff into the backfield during a one-on-one drill, but the rookie held firm the next time out.
As for Moses, he continues looking comfortable at tackle. He told me the other day that he is indeed playing more instinctively in year two.
* Jamison Crowder cannot be stopped. If the fantasy football minds figure out to track training camp stats, the speedster (or in his case, quickster?) would be an easy first round pick. He's hauling in bombs and twisting defensive backs into pretzels when he changes direction. Now, Crowder is typically facing backup types, but he's making plays regardless.
DeSean Jackson's shoulder injury opens the possibility for more work with the first unit, though Andre Roberts is the likely first option. I'm still convinced that if Crowder and Ryan Grant show enough capability in camp that Roberts could be a surprise cut. Ironically, Jackson's injury might give those young guys the chance needed to take on a larger role.
* The secondary is more beat up than every Ronda Rousey opponent. It was stunning watching journeyman Justin Rogers and sixth-round pick Kyshoen Jarrett running with the first unit against the Texans. Long way to go, but this scenario, especially f DeAngelo Hall's situation lingers, could affect cuts throughout the process.