RICHMOND -- After a day off Sunday, the Redskins kicked it into high gear with another padded practice that delivered some excitement. Here are my "Fun Bunch" of thoughts from Day Five of Training Camp.
- Head Coach Jay Gruden told the media at his 2:45 pm press conference that left guard Shawn Lauvao would be returning to practice today. In Lauvao's first one on one rep that I saw, he was driven back by defensive end Ricky Jean Francois but Lauvao was able to get a late anchor. Lauvao also had a rep against defensive end Stephen Paea where Paea bull rushed and Lauvao anchored against it. Paea, eventually drove him back but it took some time. Lauvao also got some first team reps at Left Guard during offense vs defense. Not a bad showing for a player who has been out for a bit.
- I don't know if this is a story or not but inside linebacker Su'a Cravens did not participate in the live afternoon sessions (offense vs. defense). He was on the field with the group but stayed with the group on the sidelines. There were no trainers with him or looking at him and he seemed fine when coming off the field at the conclusion of practice which made it more weird that he wasn't involved. Will Compton was with the first team with a rotating team of Perry Riley and Mason Foster (Foster got more of the first team snaps), then Foster would stay in with Martrell Spaight which is usually when Cravens came in.
- I've mentioned Cornerback Greg Toler each of the last few days but that guy refuses to not stand out. Aside from the usual suspects who stand out, Toler has consistently made plays and I was one of the first to admit I didn't give him enough credit. Jay Gruden even noted his performance during his conference today. Toler had another interception when he got physical with Wide Receiver Ryan Grant which put Grant in the turf and left only Toler there for the ball. Later in practice, Toler stayed stride for stride with receiver DeSean Jackson on a deep crosser and was able to knock the ball away with authority when he saw it coming. Toler is going to have to show his worth on special teams as well but he is showing he belongs on this roster.
- It makes you feel like a school kid watching guys like Bashaud Breeland, Josh Norman, and DeSean Jackson compete. These guys are true alpha males. Jackson and Breeland had a great back and forth on one play. Breeland jacked Jackson up on the line, Jackson slipped past, Breeland shuffled his feet, stayed with him, Jackson broke inside, Breeland broke too staying pyhsical the whole way, the ball was wide and both players laid out for the ball with Jackson coming down with the catch. I can't help but be on the edge of my toes. These are guys who want it and who other players on the team should model themselves after.
- Inside linebacker Will Compton's job in the middle seems to be pretty safe. Anyone else competing is competing to start next to him. Gruden lauded his mental ability and he keeps making plays. On the first play of offense vs. defense, Compton had great coverage on running back Chris Thompson and on the next play, Compton took on the lead block which gave safety DeAngelo Hall a free lane to come up and hit the running back.
- Defensive end Ziggy Hood has had some splash plays in recent days. The free agent addition has done a decent job in one on ones. On Monday, Mack Brown took a handoff and ran right into a penetrating Hood which put him on his back before he even knew Hood was coming. There are still spots to be won on the defensive line and Hood is starting to pull away from some of the other reserves.
- Speaking of defensive lineman, end Stephen Paea has been able to start taking advantage of his power lately. He has been giving OG/C Spencer Long, and OG Josh LeRibeus some fits in one on ones as of late. I've seen him in the backfield quite a few times during live practices as well but most of his snaps are against reserves. I'd like to see him against some of the better competition to see if he keeps showing up.
- The run defense is going to be something to keep an eye on. I feel like every practice I take a note of running back Matt Jones getting a big run right up the middle. I need to keep an eye on if nose tackle Kedric Golston is getting moved too easily or if it's linebackers not filling their gaps.
- Gruden and Sean McVay are really preparing these quarterbacks and it's exciting to see. On one play, Quarterback Kirk Cousins began his cadence and he saw the defense inching forward. He identified the blitz, took a three step drop then launched a deep ball to Tight End Jordan Reed who, because of the blitz, was matched up one on one with Mason Foster. That became a deep completion on the mis-match. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld came on the field later and noticed something in the defensive alignment. He called an audible at the line which became an outside run for Running Back Kelsey Young who gained about 30 yards before coaches blew the whistle.
Paul Conner is the Film Analyst and Draft Evaluator at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr
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