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Redskins look for improved ground game against Jets

Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones (31) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins returned to D.C. this week and held one practice in preparation for their preseason home opener against the New York Jets Friday night. Next week, they will begin to get into a regular season routine with practices leading up to the third preseason game.

In the preseason opener last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Jay Gruden and the coaches weren’t very happy with the 14 penalties the team committed and the lack of a run game from the first unit. Running backs Matt Jones and Chris Thompson combined for a single yard on just three carries. Left tackle Trent Williams did not play last week and there’s a good chance he won’t play this week either, practicing on a limited basis. That being said, the ground game has to be better.

“Well, we’d like to see us improve on the running game,” Gruden said at practice this week. “We’re going to keep trying to push it. The Jets are excellent against the run. If I recall last year, we couldn’t run the length of my arm against them. They’re very physical.”

The coaches still have a lot to figure out as far as the depth chart is concerned. Rookies Keith Marshall and Robert Kelley are fighting along with Mack Brown to make the roster. Kelley had seven carries for 40 yards and a touchdown last week. Brown also had seven carries, while Marshall had five carries for -1 yard. It will be interesting to see the rotation this week after Jones and Thompson.

The coaching staff has yet to make a decision on how long the first units will play on offense and defense. Last week, the starting offense got only one drive, while the defense had a couple. There were some starters sprinkled in here and there, but the majority was out after a few plays.

“We’ll probably get a little more than we did last week,” said Gruden, who wants to see who is healthy and playing before making a decision. “That has an impact on everybody else, so we will go from there.”

Doctson update

It’s been about a week since we got a Josh Doctson update. The wide receiver was doing work off to the side on Wednesday at practice, which is pretty much all he was doing during the team’s time in Richmond.

“He’s progressing nicely,” Gruden said. “It’s exciting to see him with a sweat going, doing a little more work. We’re just going to take it gradually, day by day. I’m not going to rush it, but we’re going to try to do more and more as the weeks go by.”

Gruden was then asked if he expected the rookie to be ready for the season opener, which is three weeks away.

“I don’t have any expectation for him whatsoever,” said Gruden. “I’m just trying to adhere to what the trainers tell me about how he’s feeling. We’ll have to wait and see. He’s going to have to progress slowly; we’re going to take our time with him and when he feels right and the time is right, then we’ll push him hard and let him practice.”

The regular season opener is Sept. 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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