When he was drafted by the Washington Redskins, Perry Riley knew he would be closer to his extended family in Richmond.
He had no idea, though, that one day he would spend training camp within several miles of his grandmother, Clara Johnson, who lives on Richmond’s Northside.
Riley’s mother, Fonda Johnson Riley, 49, grew up in Richmond and graduated from John Marshall High School in 1982.
She went to Virginia State University, where she met Perry Riley, now Perry Riley Sr., a football player for the Trojans.
Two-and-a-half years later, Fonda Johnson was Fonda Johnson Riley and had moved to the Atlanta area.
“I fell in love with Perry’s dad,” she said. “We moved to Georgia and we’ve been here ever since.”
She works for the Henry County school system.
“We were really excited three years ago when Perry was drafted by the Redskins,” Fonda Riley said. “We couldn’t believe it. And we were excited when we heard training camp would be in Richmond.”
Riley, a starting linebacker for the Redskins, grew up in Ellenwood, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. He played at LSU and was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Redskins.
He has been in training camp in Richmond since July 25, bringing him closer to his grandmother, who lives in the same house where Riley’s mother was raised.
Training camp in Richmond also brought Riley close to three uncles who live in Richmond and Chesterfield County and an aunt who lives in Henrico County.
It has given him time to visit with a number of cousins.
“My uncle had a cookout for me our second off day, and all my family got to gather around,” Riley said. “They’ve been to plenty of practices. It’s good to get to see everybody.”
Riley’s family has been established in Richmond for some time. His grandmother his lived here since her family moved from South Carolina when she was about 7 years old.
His late grandfather’s family has roots in Powhatan County.
Riley’s father, 51, was a running back at Virginia State. He now is general manager of a Wendy’s restaurant.
Perry Riley Jr. has a younger sister who was a scholarship softball player at Alabama A&M, and a brother who just graduated from high school.
Riley has become a reliable defensive player as one of the Redskins’ two inside linebackers in their 3-4 defense.
“The sky’s the limit for Perry,” said Redskins linebackers coach Bob Slowik. “He just continues to gain confidence, experience and knowledge of the scheme.”
Riley’s knowledge of the Richmond area is limited, even though he was a frequent visitor on holidays and summers during in his younger years.
Once he entered high school and began to play on teams, the family visited Richmond less and his grandmother visited Georgia more.
Johnson is excited her grandson has been nearby the past three weeks.
“We spent a weekend together,” Johnson said. “But I don’t bother him. When he comes here, it’s something he wants to do.
“He knows my home is his home away from home.”
Johnson has been to training camp several times to watch her grandson. And she and her family attend several Redskins’ games each season.
“We have a caravan up there,” she said. “We support him 100 percent.”
For Riley, the nice part of training camp in Richmond has been familial support without any overbearing requests or obligations.
“It’s cool,” Riley said. “When I get a little free time, I know I have people I can trust. I get to kick it. I spent the night at my cousin’s house on one of my off days.
“They’ve let me know I’m welcome if I have time, but they don’t try to push me or bug me to get over there. Anytime I’ve visited, it’s been because I wanted to. They’ve given me the space I need to be able to get my work done and focus. It’s been good.”
The entire Johnson-Riley family will second that emotion.
Defense tries to make Jamison fumble
Like sharks that smell blood in the water, the Washington Redskins’ defense went after rookie running back Jawan Jamison on Thursday, harassing him well after each running play ended.
The cause was a fumble Jamison had on Wednesday.
“(Wednesday) when I fell to the ground they pulled it out, and coach got after us, so I couldn’t let it happen anymore,” he said.
The defenders punched and tugged at the ball after every run Jamison made. He had a successful day, though, holding on to the football every time.
QB nearly perfect in second day of 11-on-11
Quarterback Robert Griffin III completed his first 12 passes during full-team work on Thursday, finally missing Pierre Garcon on an out route to ruin his perfect day.
Griffin finished 14-for-15 with a touchdown and no interceptions. He also had six handoffs to running backs.
The workload included a pair of designed rollouts, where Griffin moved out of the pocket and threw to a receiver in the end zone. Defenders didn’t follow either time.
“I think it was a better practice all around, for everybody,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “It just seemed crisper, and I thought (Griffin) did a better job. I’ll look at film, but it just seemed better.”
Griffin’s biggest play was a long pass to Josh Morgan that the receiver caught in stride.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo suffered a thigh bruise early in practice, causing concern among fans who have seen the Pro Bowler get injured twice in the last two years.
This injury appeared to be minor, though, and Orakpo said after practice he didn’t anticipate it being a big deal. He added that it was unrelated to any of his previous injuries.
Final day starts early, ends with a rush
Today is the final day of training camp in Richmond, and practice will begin early, at about 10:30 a.m. The Redskins will leave for Ashburn immediately after practice, so there will be no “Helmet Walk,” where kids are allowed to come on the field and get autographs.
No official announcement was made regarding autographs for fans, but it’s unlikely that players will sign for long, if at all.
As of this morning, total camp attendance has been 155,059.
Redskins notebook: Defense tries to make Jamison fumble
Did you see?
Third-string quarterback Rex Grossman executed the play-action quarterback run to perfection, fooling the entire defense into thinking he had handed off the ball. It drew a big cheer from the thousands of fans in attendance.
Top T-D tweets
Today’s #RedskinsRVA attendance: 9,844.
Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris on Chase Minnifield: “Coach (Shanahan) doesn’t want to lose good players, I’ll tell you that much.”
Fascinating how much attention coaches are paying already to the opener vs. Eagles. Will be one of the more anticipated games of the season.
Asked Bacarri Rambo (No. 29), if he’ll have to change his number because it also belongs to Roy Helu. He hadn’t considered the possibility.
Fan reax to RG3 INC: “that’s alright you got this.” Fan reax to Cousins INC: “come on Cousins, need more control!” Tough crowd.
Redskins punt returner doesn’t field a punt inside the 20. Fan behind me: “why didn’t he catch that? There wasn’t anyone near him!”
Saw a few kids staring at a soda can on the ground earlier outside training camp. Apparently they’ve grown bored with football.
Quote to note
“I like David (Amerson) because he’s a 6-foot-2 cornerback. You don’t find those guys that long. He’s got good skills. He’s tough. He can press. He’s a lot more physical than I remember him watching on tape in college. I think he’s going to be a heck of a player if he works at it.”
— Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on Amerson, a rookie cornerback
Linebacker Brian Orakpo suffered a bruised thigh. … Offensive tackle Trent Williams continued to work with the cast on his wrist. … Linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy missed practice again.
Minnifield (U.Va.) is one of the most intriguing roster questions of this camp. The coaches like him, and even rave about him. But the Redskins have five cornerbacks, the number they’ve traditionally taken under coach Mike Shanahan. With the injury to safety Phillip Thomas, could the team go down to four safeties (from five), and add a sixth cornerback position? Or will they try to get Minnifield on the practice squad without being poached by another NFL team? It’s a tough dilemma.
The final practice in Richmond is scheduled to begin about 10:35 a.m. There will be a half-hour walkthrough that will roll directly into the practice.
It should be another great day at the facility, with a high of 78 degrees.
Inside Redskins training camp: Day 16