Redskins Training Camp 2012: Observations And Highlights From Redskins Practice

ASHBURN, Va - Fans came to Redskins Park in droves Saturday, as the team held it's annual "Fan Appreciation Day". The festivities included the marching band and cheerleading squad performing, as well as head coach Mike Shanahan addressing the fans after practice, tell them "I guarantee you'll be proud of this team."

As for the actual session itself, here are some of the highlights from Saturday:

This was clearly the liveliest practice of training camp thus far. Perhaps it was the fan attendance (the Redskins say 24,650 came to watch practice), perhaps it was the ongoing grind of camp, but players at Saturday's practice were more willing to mix it up - literally.

Team drills began with a scuffle between London Fletcher and center Will Montgomery, as the two had a shoving match around midfield as teammates tried to break it up. Just moments after, a more physical confrontation occurred between a pair of second year players. After the defense created a turnover, linebacker Markus White wanted to get a block on tight end Niles Paul, with the latter taking exception.

"We got an interception, and I just wanted to make a block, that's about it," White said of the play. "It happens, it's football. You got to keep your poise."

Paul, who threw punches at White, echoed that sentiment.

"It's camp," Paul said of the scuffle. "Things happen. I'm expected to keep my poise a little better."

"What happened was that I felt like Zo had already crackbacked on me and [tagged me off], and I stopped pursing the ball and I saw a man running at me full speed about to take me out, and I defended myself. I realize I needed to keep my poise, but I just kinda snapped. "

After that incident, Shanahan had to stop practice briefly and address the team.

"You love to see guys that are competitive every time," Shanahan said, "but you can't have guys that lose their poise."

In the end, however, the scuffle didn't do much to affect Paul and White's relationship.

"That's my boy," White said. "I don't got any problems with him."

"Me and Markus are good friends," Paul added. "So that's why I didn't really understand what was going on, or why try to de-cleat me out there. We don't have a problem now."

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As for Robert Griffin III, it was another up and down day for the rookie signal caller. He still had moments where he would hold on to the ball a bit too long, but less so than he had earlier in the week.

The Redskins' top draft pick once again displayed his speed, scoring several times in red-zone drills on designed runs. His ability to turn the corner without defenders catching him could be one of his biggest assets in his rookie year, and should serve him well as he still adjusts to learning to read NFL defenses.

"This is the first week [of training camp]," Shanahan said of Griffin's adjustment so far. "We've practiced for one week. Three years from now he'll probably have [the ability to read defenses]. That's usually how long it takes. It takes some time."

Griffin's best throw of the day also came during red-zone drills, when he hit Santana Moss over the middle on a slant pattern for a score. He got the ball got out of his hands quickly, and it arrived in time with plenty of zip. Despite some of his struggles so far in camp, Griffin has still been able to flash some of the throwing ability the Redskins coveted when they drafted him in April.

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The roster battle at safety continues to heat up now that Tanard Jackson is back in the fold. After starting camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, Jackson has been able to string together a few solid practices in a row.

On the play involving the Paul/White fight, he had a leaping interception of a Rex Grossman pass over the middle. He later was able to get his hands on a few more passes against the second and third team offense. With Madieu Williams playing free safety alongside the first team for now, it'll be interesting to see when and if Jackson eventually gets a shot with them as well.

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For those wondering about the kicking competition between incumbent Graham Gano and the newcomer in Neil Rackers, here you go:

Gano was 5/6 on the day, with his lone miss hitting the right upright from 34 yards out. Rackers, on the other hand, was a perfect 6/6 on the day, with a long of 51. For camp, they've both gone 16/19 for the entire camp. Shanahan said after practice that he will evalutate both practice reps and kicks in preseason games to help decide who wins the spot.

Did not practice: LB Ryan Kerrigan (heat), Safety DeJon Gomes (shoulder), WR Anthony Armstrong (shoulder), OT James Lee (knee), FB Darrell Young (hamstring), WR Josh Morgan (hamstring), WR Lance Lewis.

Limited: RB Tim Hightower (knee)

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