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Redskins training camp: Day 1's surprise player and other observations

The First Day of Redskins Training came has come and gone. Paul Conner shares his fun bunch of thoughts on the first day.

Despite the hot temperatures in Richmond, the Redskins had a successful day of practice. No major injuries is always good news as players get used to being back on the field with their brothers. Here are my "Fun Bunch" of thoughts from the first day.

  • Kirk Cousins is pretty much done talking about his contract at this point. He tried his best to veer away from all questions concerning it and wants to get focused on the season. He is comfortable playing on the tag and says he is going to prove himself like he has always done.

  • As of right now, it looks like Chris Baker (LDE) and Kedric Golston (NT) are entrenched in their spots. That is always subject to change but it appears that's what they're rolling with right now. The Right Defensive End spot is a little more tricky as it appears Ricky Jean Francois and Kendall Reyes are rotating in at that spot. Upon initial reaction, most fans aren't excited about any of the combos in base but this is your reminder of how little the team will be in base.

  • Greg Toler was a surprise player today. He made a handful of good plays on the ball and did a really good job mirroring in coverage. Cornerback is already a loaded spot and Toler's age works against him, but he looked better up close than I anticipated. He gave Pierre Garcon and Rashad Ross problems.

  • The Redskins big free-agent cornerback Josh Norman didn't have a great day. It wasn't bad by any means but it wasn't great. He gambled on a couple of his assignments and DeSean Jackson beat him a couple times in coverage. This is not to alarm anyone. It is just the first day. He did let the competition get to him a little bit as on one slant pass to DeSean Jackson, Norman brought him to the ground and stripped him of the ball on the way down.

  • Bashaud Breeland was pretty lights out today. He knocked away few slant passes and showed his physicality with some of the younger receivers.

  • Su'a Cravens lined up solely at inside linebacker with the second unit next to Martrell Spaight. I did not see him take a snap at safety at all through the morning session or afternoon practice. This doesn't mean he won't at some point, but not as of now.

  • With Perry Riley out, Beavis and Butt-head (Will Compton and Mason Foster) returned as the starting inside linebackers. Asked about how Compton's presence helped the defense last season, coach Jay Gruden said "A lot of times it can become chaotic out there with all the no-huddle teams that there are, so communication is at a premium and Will’s excellent at it and he made our defense better once he was inserted in the starting lineup.”

  • I talked to Matt Jones for a bit and obviously we touched on the ball security. Jones was just as emphatic about his pad level as well. He brought it up and mentioned how hard he has been working on it. It is not easy getting your pad level down when you're 6'2" but this may help protect not only the ball but himself from injuries, too.

  • Special teams coach Ben Kotwica is a fun listen. Colorful, but fun. He gets as fired up as any coach on the sideline. He's very passionate and is on every player to do their job. Loved to hear him talk to the gunners about how important their job was and the goal was to flatten out the returners and give them only one way to go.

  • Nate Sudfeld still has work to do as a passer. Problems he had in college are still prevalent when he is under center. He has this really weird trajectory on his mid-to-short throws where the ball goes forward but the tip of the ball points down. The ball travels diagonally in the air. He did have a deep ball where he got air under it and it looked perfect. After that, he had another short throw that went into the dirt. He missed a couple throws today because of that.  

  • Tight end Niles Paul looked happy to be back out there. He showed a ton of effort on punt and kickoff teams which is his original home away from home. He also got reps on offense and looks to be mixing up into formations with Jordan Reed and the first unit.

  • Chris Baker really becoming a leader on and off the field. One of the longest tenured players, you can hear him yelling, "pick up your teammates, man!"

Paul Conner is the Film Analyst and Draft Evaluator at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr

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