The poor weather that was predicted held off long enough for the Redskins to strap on the pads for the first time in camp this afternoon. The crashing of pads is music to the ears of many players and fueled their adrenaline on the way to a very spirited practice. At one point, it got too spirited. Here are my "Fun Bunch" of thoughts from Day 3.
- Linebacker Houston Bates needs to be mentioned. He may still be raw as a pass rusher, but he is one of the few players who always looks like he's playing with a fire under his behind. He's very energetic and knows what needs to be done. I watched him line up next to a cornerback during special teams drills and beat him down to the returner. Then during a break down, wrap up and tackle drill, Bates was the ball carrier and linebacker Martrell Spaight was supposed to line him up. Bates trucked him right to the ground and kept running. He needs to make plays on defense to have a significant role, but all of Bates' other skills should help him find a spot on this team.
- Speaking of Spaight, getting trucked woke him up. He may not have thought that drill was going to operate at game speed, but once full offense-versus-defense drills started, he made everyone forget about his previous embarrassment. Spaight was constantly clanging pads with someone. On one play, thanks to linebacker Lynden Trail setting the edge, Spaight got through the line clean and leveled running back Chris Thompson in the backfield. On another play, Spaight shot a gap and laid the wood on running back Keith Marshall right after he took the handoff.
- One person who took a little exception to Spaight's hits was tight end Niles Paul. On one play, Paul caught a pass near the line of scrimmage and as the play was ending, Spaight came in late to deliver a decent shot. Paul immediately stood up and began exchanging words with the linebacker. Paul then began walking away and Spaight followed, continuing the conversation. Once they were face to face, you could tell where it was going. Paul began throwing punches at Spaight -- who was wearing a helmet -- and players from both sides broke it up pretty quickly. A coach talked to Spaight on the sidelines for quite a while after that.
- Third-round rookie cornerback Kendall Fuller got his chance to work with the first team as the Redskins bumped cornerback Dashaun Phillips over to the second field. When the starters got into nickel defense during the morning walk-through and the afternoon practice, cornerbacks Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland lined up out on the boundaries while Fuller was in the slot. He has given up a few receptions the past two days but has played relatively good coverage. Although he still needs to learn the nuances of the game at this level, the Redskins are giving Fuller a chance to earn the slot spot.
- One-on-ones with the offensive line versus defensive line got the players hyped. All of them were cheering each other on. Offensive guard Brandon Scherff has such sweet feet and makes it look effortless. Defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was doing swim move after swim move to try to get past Scherff, but the 2015 first-rounder just shuffled and stayed ahead. Scherff did get bull-rushed once by defensive tackle Chris Baker, so he'll need to better brace himself for those power attacks. Offensive tackle Trent Williams and defensive end Trent Murphy had some good battles, with Williams winning most of the reps. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and offensive tackle Morgan Moses exchanged winning reps against each other.
- Speaking of Murphy, he logged the play of the day when he intercepted a wide receiver screen intended for Jamison Crowder. Murphy said his job on that play is to read the offensive tackle -- which was the athletic Williams -- and that he diagnosed the screen as soon as Williams released. Murphy, who is learning at end after playing linebacker in his first two pro seasons, said that play showed off the instincts he has for the position. It may have also helped that Murphy didn't wear his helmet visor, which he said improved his vision. Despite putting on more than 30 pounds for his new role, Murphy said he doesn't think he has lost any mobility skills. Conversely, he said he has felt more explosive as he's added muscle.
- Marshall's speed is going to be a real problem for opponents. All it took was a defensive end not setting the edge on one play and no one from the second or third level had any chance of catching the rookie runner on his way to a 75-yard touchdown. Marshall also spent some time returning kicks as his coaches are looking for any ways to utilize that speed. Marshall will have to learn patience, but when you're a home run threat, you're going to get your chances.
- A couple days ago, wide receiver DeSean Jackson played down the fact that he's entering the final year of his contract. However, he is playing absolutely lights out and beating most defenders who step in front of him. I'm not saying it has anything to do with his contract, but it's just amazing to see someone dominate so much. If he can perfect his underneath routes, Jackson is always going to be open because cornerbacks have to respect his speed and play off of him.
- Wide receiver Rashad Ross had a much better day catching the football after a few drops Friday. He ran a lot of short routes, hauling in passes underneath zones. He needs to get his hands in sync so he can showcase his electric speed.
- Safety Geno Matias-Smith made a few nice plays with the pads on. He had a well-timed blitz that would have resulted in a sack. On another play, he shot from deep in the secondary, popped the blocking tight end and tackled the running back behind the line of scrimmage. Safety is a deep position for the Redskins, but it was encouraging to see him stand out.
Paul Conner is the Film Analyst and Draft Evaluator at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr
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