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Redskins Rookie Mini Camp Recap

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The team concluded their first mini camp of the season with 72 players in attendance. This included the team's 7 draft picks, 12 UDFA's, 5 first year players, and 48 tryout players. The full list of players can be found here. A few players were in attendance, but did not participate in drills like rookie RB Chris Thompson who is still recovering from an ACL injury, and will reportedly be ready for training camp. Jordan Reed didn't participate due to an injury from his final game in college.

The chances of any of these tryouts getting on the 90 man roster are slim right now, and there were a few interesting names there this year. Alfred Morris's brother Shawn, a RB from Birmingham-Southern, was participating.

WR Lance Lewis, who got injured in training camp last year, was invited back to tryout. There were several good reports on his performance this weekend.

Undrafted free agent OT Xavier Nixon was asked about not getting drafted.

Nixon talking about Florida teammate Jordan Reed.

The biggest attraction at training camp was the rookies in the secondary. Safeties Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas were switching between free and strong on certain plays. Rambo played free and Thomas played strong for the majority of the time though. Here are some observations from the Washington Post.

Thomas and Rambo shared the field with Thomas lining up predominantly at strong safety and Rambo at free safety. There were times when the offensive formation and motions required Rambo to play up in the box while Thomas dropped back and played deep. Other times, they both played deep.

They certainly passed the eyeball test. Both boast good size, move with fluidity and good anticipation while backpedaling and changing directions, and then fly to the ball. They made decisions quickly and played fast.

Thomas recorded an interception over the middle of the field, and he also forced a fumble when in coverage of wide receiver Skye Dawson, who made a catch as he ran a slant. Thomas swatted and knocked the ball out of Dawson’s grasp, and scooped up the loose ball.

Rambo also had an interception downfield as he went up in traffic and wrestled a Ryan Radcliff pass away from wide receiver Jason Thompson.

At one point, Rambo backpedaled at the snap of the ball and then changed directions and closed in on wideout Antavian Edison, who made a catch on a short route. Rambo pulled up just as he got to the receiver because these are non-contact drills.

Rich Tandler also had a short write-up of his observations from the shortened practice today. Today's workout was the only one from the minicamp that was made available to the media. He made some observations on two receivers besides Lance Lewis.

—UDFA wide receiver Jason Thompson is tall (6 foot-3) and quite slender (190 lb.). He looks athletic moving around out there and made some decent cuts on simple pass patterns. Thompson dropped an easy one or two against no defenders but had good form in pulling the ball in.

—Skye Dawson, an UDFA out of TCU, hauled in a couple of long passes. He’s short, speedy and wears No. 16. But that’s as far as the Brandon Banks comparison goes, Dawson is bigger and seems to be a more natural receiver.

Mike Shanahan addressed the media briefly after the session, and Zac Boyer got some quotes and made some observations of his own.

Head coach Mike Shanahan was pleased to see Thomas and Rambo’s instincts take over despite having just a short time with the playbook. That could bode well for each player; the Redskins currently have an opening at free safety, and Brandon Meriweather, the starting strong safety, likely won’t be able to return from a torn ACL before the start of training camp.

"The good part about them is they’ve got the size and the athletic ability to play both positions," Shanahan said. "I think everybody knows what type of receiving skills they have and their ability to make plays, but I’ve seen enough out of them on film that I think both of them could do a great job at the strong safety position as well as the free safety position. That’s what you’re looking for when you draft them, and hopefully it plays out that way.

Rich Campbell's observations.

Let’s look more closely at Thomas’ interchangeability. He played strong safety for most of rookie camp, he said, while Rambo played free safety. Fresno St. often used Thomas in the box, and when deep in passing situations, he frequently played to the wide side of the field.

“Even though I feel like I can do both, they had me playing in the box this weekend, doing some calls,” Thomas said. “They also had me up high, too. But doing all the quarters coverages and the Cover-1s and everything, it’s just really similar to what I did at Fresno St. So I came in feeling really comfortable.”

How quickly Thomas learns the Redskins’ calls and alignments will help determine his playing time. He also must prove he can defend the deep third as a free safety. Coaches believe he can; but he’ll have to prove it in the coming months. That is one of the team’s most intriguing storylines moving forward.

John Keim also shared his take on the rookie camp.

Shanahan said Rambo and Thomas scored well on his personality test he gives to rookies. I’ve heard from other coaches how well this test is at gauging a player’s success (or at least how he’ll work). Shanahan said the rookie safeties scored a 9 and a 10 out of 10. He did not say which one scored the 10, but the point was they both scored well.

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