Anybody who attended any of the three practice sessions between the Jets and the Redskins knows Sam Darnold is more than a guy. Darnold, the No. 3 overall selection in April’s draft who again took the majority of team reps Tuesday for the Jets, earned high praise from a loquacious Redskins cornerback who recognized a recent college player making a quick transition to the National Football League.
“Someone asked me about him the other day and I was like ‘Yeah whatever, he’s just a guy.’ Then you go out here and see him making these throws and I’m like ‘All right, that’s not so much a college-level throw.’ He’s putting them on the money,” Norman said of No. 14 wearing red.
While Todd Bowles did not name a starting quarterback for Thursday night’s game between the two clubs, Darnold will assuredly play a lot and he should go into the game with great confidence. Following up on a solid performance against the Falcons, Darnold was awfully good this week.
“He's all football. He comes in about his business,” Bowles said of Darnold. “He wants to be good, he studies his playbook and he goes out and tries to execute on the field and he tries to learn which is great.”
Best Photos from Tuesday's Practice with the Redskins in Richmond
In 7-on-7 work inside the red zone, Darnold started to heat up. There was a laser up the right sideline to Robby Anderson, who got his feet in bounds. Then there was great anticipation on a short scoring toss to Jermaine Kearse with Darnold releasing the ball before Kearse even turned around. When Kearse did, the ball stuck in between the 1 and 0 on his jersey.
“It’s pass, catch here right there,” Norman said of the 7-on-7 drill. “But he’s not making mistakes. He’s really accurate. You get rookies in here and you try to mess with them and bait him a little bit, thinking he’ll throw a route you know you can make a play on. He’s not having it.”
You never feel Darnold is out of a play. On an errant shotgun snap from center Spencer Long, Darnold quickly found the ball and had the presence of mind to race towards the boundary for good yardage. Instead of panic or indecision, Darnold acted quickly and showcased his underrated wheels.
Late in practice, Darnold orchestrated a brilliant drive. On the run, he threw a perfect pass to TE Jordan Leggett. The very next play, Darnold fired to Leggett on the opposite side of the field. Later he ended the march with a bang, hitting veteran TE Clive Walford in the middle of the field as there were oohs and aahs from those in attendance at the Bon Secours Training Center.
“It’s so crazy to see that at an early age. Dak (Prescott) has that, Carson (Wentz) has that, so they must come in here not wanting to screw it up,” Norman said of the 21-year-old Darnold. “So far, he’s impressed me and I didn’t want him. That’s the main thing. I want to break all rookies’ backs. He’s been doing a great job.”
Burgundy & Bowles
Thirty-two years ago, the Redskins signed undrafted free agent Todd Bowles to a contract. He would earn a roster spot in camp and go on to start in Washington’s Super Bowl XXII victory over the Denver Broncos. Former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, the club’s senior vice president of player personnel, got Bowles into coaching and gave him his first coaching job as a defensive coordinator at Morehouse College.
“I mean they signed me and they gave me a chance. So playing for the Redskins is something I'll never forget,” Bowles said today. “You give me the chance to meet a lot of people, gave me a chance at a career that I probably otherwise wouldn't had. So it's always going to be a special place.”
All of the players who did not make the trip (including LT Kelvin Beachum, RB Isaiah Crowell, OLB Lorenzo Mauldin and DTs Steve McLendon and Deon Simon) will not play at FedExField. Bowles did not rule anyone else out yet, but K Cairo Santos, WR Jonah Trinnaman, CBs Juston Burris and Parry Nickerson (hamstring), RG Brian Winters, T Ben Ijalana and TEs Neal Sterling (ankle) and Chris Herndon were among the non-participants… Rookie running back Trenton Cannon also wasn’t a go and was seen with ice on his foot… Leggett, who missed some days due to knee maintenance, had his most productive workout in camp… The Jets offensive line will be in focus Thursday as it’s expected Brent Qvale will start in place of Beachum and the versatile Jonotthan Harrison could get the call if Winters doesn’t go. On the defensive side, Mike Pennel continues to fill in for McLendon… While both Marcus Maye (ankle) and Terrelle Pryor (ankle) received some team reps this week, the Green & White may continue to err on the side of the caution and hold them out of action.