Stuart McNair

Morning Manny: Rookie Camp Practice Notes

All eyes were on Jonathan Allen at Saturday's Rookie Camp but an undrafted free agent D-Lineman flashed more.

ASHBURN, VA - The Washington Redskins opened their doors to media for the first time this off-season for Rookie Camp and it was an exciting atmosphere. New defensive coordinator Greg Manusky coached the camp's most talented side of the football. But, personally, the star coaches of the day and probably moving forward were OL coach Bill Callahan and new DL coach Jim Tomsula. During OL vs DL drills, watching both veteran coaches educate their respective units was a sight to behold. While it can be a bit tough to keep an eye on every player during these kind of practices, there were several that made their presence known.


  • Of course all eyes were on first round pick Jonathan Allen throughout the day. While he didn't necessarily "wow" during drills, he displayed much of what made him a first round pick. Allen has violent hands and good feet. Those traits are what made his career at Alabama successful and should help him succeed in the NFL. I did notice that Jim Tomsula was constantly in Allen's ear. Almost every snap in every drill, Tomsula had teaching tips for the rookie defensive lineman. That's not to say Allen wasn't doing things correctly. Tomsula preaches technique and wants Allen to work on his pad level. I thought it was interesting to hear Tomsula tell Allen several times to keep his eyes low when coming off the snap. That's really good advice because keeping your eyes low forces you to maintain low pad level. Overall, Allen is as-advertised and should benefit from Tomsula's tutelage.   

  • While everyone was interested to watch Jonathan Allen, I couldn't keep my eyes off college free agent Ondre Pipkins. The former Texas Tech defensive lineman came into camp appearing to be in very good shape. I've seen him listed anywhere from 315 lbs to 330 lbs. I'd say he's closer to the former but is still very much a load. In one-on-ones, Pipkins created push just about every snap. There was one snap in particular where Pipkins lined up against fellow UDFA Tyler Catalina, who was playing left guard, and just totally put the former Georgia offensive lineman on his back. Tomsula loved the play but had to correct Pipkins because he ran laterally instead of uphill after placing Catalina on his back. Either way, it was an impressive snap. Pipkins continued to shine in team drills where he again created push and pass rush several times. I was impressed with his athleticism. I think people have been quick to label him a nose tackle, which he absolutely can play. However, he has the ability to also create pass rush from the three-technique. 

  • Speaking of Catalina, other than his snap against Pipkins, he too was impressive at the left guard position. He's a name to remember. The team seems to really like him. In fact, Catalina was the last offensive lineman on-the-field after practice receiving additional tips from OL coach Bill Callahan, among others. 

  • Rookie LB Josh Harvey-Clemons was a safety in college, so there's definitely going to be some growing pains for him this off-season. He's a big athlete with a lot of length. I think that will help him even when he gets beat. However, he was extremely grabby in one-on-ones vs tight ends and running backs. On one rep vs fourth round pick Samaje Perine, the running back beat Harvey-Clemons on an under-and-up route. Harvey-Clemons was physical against Perine, but the former Sooner flashed a nasty stiff arm and just just got under Harvey-Clemons. Unfortunately the ball was overthrown. On another snap, Harvey-Clemons went against fifth round pick Jeremy Sprinkle, who is also a big guy. Harvey-Clemons fared well against Sprinkle, but the tight end was still able to get under him on a vertical route. Harvey-Clemons was again grabby after getting beat. With a better throw, Sprinkle probably would've made an athletic catch over the linebacker. 

  • To continue discussing Sprinkle - I like what he displayed on Saturday. I know he's touted for his blocking, but that wasn't the strength I saw during this practice. He was beat a few times attempting to pass block. On one snap during team drills, second round pick Ryan Anderson converted speed-to-power and zoomed right under the former Arkansas tight end. However, I was impressed with Sprinkle's ball skills. He's a tall guy and is pretty leggy when running routes. But he's a better route runner than advertised and he has really good hands. 

  • Samaje Perine is going to be a really solid player. It's hard to dissect running backs in shorts. But more so than anything, he really showed his route running ability and ball skills during this practice. I was really impressed with his work in the pass game. 

  • I was rather surprised with the day that seventh round pick Josh Holsey had in practice. I don't think there was a ball completed against him. What he does really well is undercut routes. It's almost like watching a winger in soccer. He just knows how to crash on the ball. Of course, that can also really hurt him in the pass game. Teams could bait him. But I think that's a trait that corners don't display enough. He's a guy who could continue impressing throughout the off-season. 

You can find Emmanual on Twitter @manny_benton.

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