Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden could not help but sneak a smile at the prospect of showing off his offense at full strength on national television Monday night, when his brother Jon and ESPN will be among the onlookers at FedEx Field.
With wide receivers DeSean Jackson (ankle) and Pierre Garcon (hamstring) looking ready to go, that's exactly what the Redskins should have on display on "Monday Night Football" against the Cleveland Browns.
"We're excited to see them run out and compete, get them in a game situation and see how they do. Just get the rust off of them and it's important for them to try to get some type of continuity with the quarterback and the offense in general, just the speed of breaking the huddle on game day and how many plays in a row can you go without getting tired," Gruden said Thursday. "If I sent them deep, can they come back and dig out a first forced block or can they run deep again, two or three times in a row? So, we'll see what kind of stamina they have, they look like they're doing well out here at practice but game-day speed is a little bit different. Hopefully they can handle it."
Quarterback Robert Griffin III should not have any trouble getting up to speed with Garcon, the team's leading returning receiver who set a franchise record with 113 receptions in 2013. It's evolving timing with Jackson, who ran sub-4.3 in the 40-yard dash coming out of California, that might take time in Gruden's new offense.
The first-year coach sounds confident Griffin is getting it.
"The entire scope of the position: He's calling plays faster in the huddle; he's got a better command of the game, the snap count," Gruden said. "All those little things that go into playing a position are very, very important.
"... Playing quarterback is a lot more than throwing a football. It's getting us into the right run, it's handling formation, handling the clock in two-minute, all of these things that he's starting to understand -- the total big picture of the game -- and I'm excited about his progress already."
Both projected starting receivers practiced Thursday. That could diminish chances for rookie Ryan Grant and Aldrick Robinson, who showed well when given the first-team reps available with Washington's big-money pass catchers idle.
Gruden allowed that Grant could be in line for significant snaps if he continues at his current rate this week and next, when defenses will use first-team personnel.
"He's already proven that he's capable of moving into that role. It's just that we have three pretty good players in front of him right now and Aldrick (Robinson) actually having a really good camp also. Between Aldrick and Ryan Grant, those two guys are probably performing the best out of the receiving corps because of Pierre's injury and DeSean's injury."
Leonard Hankerson, who remains on the physically unable to perform list, is making progress. But the Redskins are allowing the veteran receiver and team physician Dr. James Andrews to dictate his timetable for return. That could mean staying on PUP into the regular season.
"We just have to see if he is healthy or not," Gruden said. "If he's not healthy then that obviously will be an option so we have to wait and see when he gets cleared from the doctors and I'm not sure when that is going to be yet."
The Redskins are handling the marijuana possession citation of rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland in-house, Gruden said, after discussing his Wednesday incident before practice. Breeland was allowed to practice and Gruden indicated he would continue to be on the field. "It's disappointing. He's a young kid and he's had a great camp and it's a little hiccup, bump in the road for him that he's got to learn from that a lot of kids go through at his age. So he'll learn from it and we'll all move forward from this, hopefully," Gruden said.
--Safety Brandon Meriweather did not practice Thursday. His status for Monday's game is not determined, but he is expected to rest as a precaution.
"He hurt his toe. Got a little blood underneath his toenail, limping around a little bit, but he should be OK," Gruden said.