ASHBURN,Va - What an interesting day today at Redskins Park. Today's events centered around the ratification of the new CBA, which would finally allow newly signed free agents to practice with their teammates.
The most bizarre scene of the day occurred at the beginning of the afternoon session, when it was still unclear whether or not the new players were allowed to sign. Work was still being done to wrap up the new CBA, and until it became official, players could not join the rest of the team. So the team had their free agents all stretch together on a separate field, away from everyone else and waiting for the league to give them the word that they can finally get started. A very strange sight and as Mike Shanahan put it "Hopefully we never will have to [see something like that] ever again".
Eventually free agents were able to participate and there a palpable sense of excitement in the air, as the team and the fans gathered were finally happy to see the full roster get to work.
Here are some things that stood out about the afternoon session:
Rex Grossman finally gets his chance: All offseason we've heard about how John Beck had the inside track to the starting quarterback job. But when Rex Grossman got his chance, you kind of got the feeling that Beck was already playing second fiddle. Grossman took the vast majority of first team snaps today and, frankly, looked much sharper than Beck did. That's not to say he was playing lights out, as he had his customary throws (ie: to the other team) that we've been used to seeing in years past. But for the most part it was clear he was more comfortable with the system, had more accuracy and zip on the ball than what Beck has shown thus far. With Beck expected to get first team reps tomorrow, it's his move now.
Starting defensive line takes shape: Two of the three new starting defensive lineman were free agent acquisitions, meaning today was the first time we finally got to see them in action. The line of Carriker, Cofield and Bowen are miles ahead of the starting three from a year ago. For one, Barry Cofield showed that he is strong enough to be an anchor at nose tackle when he needs to be, but is still athletic enough to penetrate the backfield and make a play when that's whats called for as well. Stephen Bowen looked solid, showing his pass rush versatility as well as his ability to get off of blocks to make a play in the run game. A year ago you would say the best starting defensive lineman was probably Adam Carriker (who's still a solid player). Now he may be their least talented, which may be a good thing for the Redskins.
Injuries, Injuries, Injuries: Mike Shanahan updated the status of several dinged up Redskins after practice. First, he confirmed that Ryan Torain did indeed fracture his left wrist, and had to get four screws in place to help it heal. Shanahan said he expects Torain to be back in seven to ten days.
Malcolm Kelly, who has been a perennial injury concern, was limited in practice because of what he said was a sore foot. With this being a make or break year for Kelly, he can't afford to be out for a long period of time. And lastly, Shanahan confirmed that Chris Cooley has been dealing with some knee issues and has been limited. It doesn't appear to be a serious issue or else Cooley would have been held out of practice. Still, it's something that could be worth monitoring if things don't get better.