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Redskins OTA May 30: Notes and observations

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

1. Here’s an update on Robert Griffin III. Know what’s not in here? Anything about wedding registries, injury controversies or any issues that have to be worked out with the coach. You’re welcome.

2. The perception is that the bulk of Alfred Morris’ yards came because of Griffin and the zone read option. If you think like that, you’ll be among those surprised when Morris excels in his second year. People point to the Browns game as proof that Morris couldn’t do anything without Griffin (27 carries, 81 yards). But consider: the Browns made it their goal to stop him, sending the backside ends and linebackers at him. What happened? It opened up the bootleg for Kirk Cousins. The reason the offense started to roll was because of the run game threat posed by Morris. The zone read was a factor, but not as much as you would think.

3. Morris impressed Mike Shanahan with his mindset in the offseason. Though Morris said he gained 10 pounds (of which he’s lost five), Shanahan said he likes the second-year back’s approach. “Anytime you have the success Alfred had as a rookie and you’re invited to speak you have a lot of banquets to go to, fundraisers to go to and sometimes guys lose perspective of what got them there. You don’t have to worry about that with Alfred. He’s in great shape. He does things the right way. He still goes out of his way to do as many charitable things as he can possibly do. That’s the way he’s made, but he takes care of business first…. He looks better in this camp than he did a year ago. You can see he’s practicing at a very high level.”

4. Young receivers Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson flashed again Thursday. This is where you must remember it’s May 30 and what the success of the spring does is make you wonder how they’ll be in training camp. But it’s better than them looking bad. Robinson has been active and consistent with his hands. “His consistency catching the ball now is as good as it’s been. Hopefully he can keep that growth pattern going.”

5. One issue Robinson had last season: blocking. Not good. We won’t see if he’s improved there until the preseason games begin.

6. As for Hankerson, he did a good job last year on crossing routes, when he’s able to use more of his speed to run away from defenders. I liked last season, too, how he came out of his breaks. But he has a ways to go.

7. OK, quarterback Pat White looked better Thursday but that’s mostly in comparison to how much he struggled last week. His footwork improved, but he’s still learning when and where to go with the ball and he threw high on too many passes. There’s still quite a gap between he and the other quarterbacks.

8. I liked Richard Crawford last year because he always found a way to make plays. But the No. 1 thing I liked about him was his intelligence. The kid will make an excellent coach one day. Not sure many corners spend as much time studying the game like Crawford.

9. Thursday, Crawford worked quite a bit in the slot. Saw him break up a deep pass, but also saw Hankerson get too much separation against him on a shallow crossing route.  Earlier, Crawford did an excellent job vs.  Joshua Morgan – and it was something a bit new for him. I love Crawford’s ability to mirror receivers off the line; he’s very patient. But he’s not a tall corner, nor does he have longer arms. So jamming wideouts was not part of his game. However, he did that to Morgan, using his left hand to jam him. When Morgan broke outside, Crawford was still all over him and broke up the subsequent pass that came their way.

10. Raheem Morris loved that last play by Crawford and shouted at Morgan, “Hey, get back in the huddle!”

11. This is probably a good time to let you know I talked to Crawford even more for the email report this week.

12. Yes, Kirk Cousins is working on the zone read, as he said last week. He’s not bad with his footwork; he’s obviously not as quick as Griffin, but he’s doing OK. Cousins did connect on a deep ball to Morgan after a zone read fake. One of the lighter moments of the day came when Cousins kept the ball around the right end after a fake with Doug Worthington in pursuit. As he, uh, sped around the end Cousins shouted, ‘Wuuu! Wuuu!”

13. Corner DeAngelo Hall intercepted Cousins on a throw to Morgan.

14. London Fletcher practiced. Jordan Pugh and Maurice Hurt were not at practice. Pugh was stuck in Texas after being unable to fly because of an ear infection while Hurt underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Hurt should be ready for the start of training camp.

15. Linebacker Brian Orakpo was active, whether rushing vs. left tackle Trent Williams or anyone else. Orakpo showed good speed when lining up in the middle, then coming between right guard and tackle. He was tough to slow. The big thing with Orakpo, obviously, will be how his pec holds up.

16. Didn’t focus a whole lot on second-year tackle Tom Compton, but he did a good job on one rush vs. Rob Jackson. His footwork was excellent and his base was sound. But he also looked stronger at the point of attack; Jackson didn’t get around him.

17. Talked to Jarvis Jenkins last week for the email report about his first step and how he wanted to make it more explosive. That was his No. 1 focus in the offseason. In the couple plays I watched of him Thursday, Jenkins did look like he was taking a bigger first step and getting upfield a little better in rush situations. That’s what happened on a stretch zone to the right in which he forced the back to cut early because of his penetration.

18. Jenkins intercepted a tipped pass (courtesy of Stephen Bowen) in the backfield.

19. Shanahan on why he hired Keith Burns to coach special teams: “When I interviewed Keith, he blew me away, how organized he was and his teaching progression. He’s very organized with his thoughts. He has a very solid scheme. He has a lot of passion and enthusiasm for what he does.”

20. And now Shanahan on why he hired Larry Coyer to be an advance scout: “He’s a great football mind. He’s a guy that loves looking at film. He’ll be there at 7 in the morning and leave at 12 at night. I can’t think of a better guy to give the offensive coaches and defensive coaches updates on what he thinks the opposing teams will do.

“Some people don’t have the background to get a guy like Larry who has a background as a coordinator and coached all positions. He’s run a 3-4 and a 4-3 and he’s experienced on the offensive side of the ball. He can go through our tendencies. A lot of times during the season you’re so caught up in things you don’t dissect yourself. Larry can do that for our offense and defense. He has a good feel for our schemes.”

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