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20 questions in 20 days: 5 Will running back by committee work?

20 questions in 20 days: 5 Will running back by committee work?

By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir20 questions in 20 daysAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 5:Will a running back by committee approach work?The background:Ever since Clinton Portis sustained a concussion midway through the 2009 season, the Redskins have not had a workhorse running back. It doesnt look like things are going to change this year. Evan Royster, Roy Helu Jr., and Alfred Morris all have their strong points but none of them has demonstrated the ability to tote the rock 20 times a game, week in and week out. That means that all three of them will have to carry the load if the Redskins are going to be successful running the ball.Tandler:The workhorse back is becoming a thing of the past in what has become a passing league. Neither Super Bowl participant had a runner with as many as 200 carries. While it may be nice to have a prime back like Ray Rice (291 rushing attempt) or Frank Gore (292), its not necessary to win. Having a productive running game is still important but having one back get the lions share of the carries is not. What the Redskins need is a change of approach. Since Portis faded from the scene they have run with one back until he was injured or became ineffective and then switched to the next guy. What Mike and Kyle Shanahan need to do is come up with a plan to rotate the backs, play to their strengths, and keep them fresh and healthy. A planned running back by committee approach will work; riding one back until he drops and then saddling up the next one will not.El-Bashir:Although we dont know how the Shanahans plan to deploy their stable of running backs, it appears the coaching staff is leaning toward utilizing all three -- and for good reason. Royster is rugged and instinctive. Helu is elusive, a decent receiver and an effective pass protector. Morris makes one cut and hes gone. While none is of the featured back variety, the trio could form a potent combination, particularly if opposing defenses become preoccupied with the possibility of quarterback Robert Griffin III taking off with the ball as well. But there are concerns. Royster, Helu and Morris have a grand total of seven NFL starts between them. Another is health. Royster missed time in the preseason with knee and neck ailments, while Helu was sidelined with two sore Achilles tendons. Considering both were hobbled by injuries at various points last season, too, its a major concern.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 Aug. 26Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 Aug. 27Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 Aug. 28Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 Aug. 29Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 Aug. 30How much can Hightower contribute this year?
9 Aug. 31Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
8 Sept. 1Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
7 Sept. 2What can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?
6 YesterdayIs the offensive line depth good enough?
5 TodayWill a running back by committee work?
4 TomorrowShould we expect a sophomore slump from Ryan Kerrigan?
3 ThursdayHow many wins is enough?
2 FridayHow much should RG3 run?
1 SaturdayCan RG3 . . . ?

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Should the Redskins look to newly released Patriot for offensive line help?

Should the Redskins look to newly released Patriot for offensive line help?

Surprising news Wednesday when word leaked that the Patriots will release center Bryan Stork. Could New England's loss be the Redskins gain? Maybe. 

The Patriots selected Stork in the fourth round of the 2014 draft from Florida State, and in two seasons with New England he has started 17 games. Stork has also dealt with concussion issues, last year playing just eight games and starting six.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 315 lbs., Stork is big for a center. Current Redskins starter Kory Lichtensteiger lists at 6-foot-2 and 295 lbs., and was limited to five regular season games last season. Behind Lichtensteiger, the Redskins have Spencer Long and Josh LeRibeus competing at the backup center spot, though Long is also currently taking snaps on the first team offensive line at left guard.

LeRibeus struggled last season when forced to step in at center, both in blocking and snapping, and it's hard to imagine the 'Skins want to see him in that position again. If Shawn Lauvao proves healthy and capable of taking back over at left guard, that would allow Long to backup or even compete with Lichtensteiger at center.

So how does Stork fit in with any of this? At times, he has been a better center than the current Redskins options. At other times, however, he hasn't.

Good insight from CSNNE.com Patriots beat writer Phil Perry

Stork could help a team in need of a center, but there are a few things worth looking into before investing in him. First and foremost, he has an injury history that could be concerning. He was placed on short-term IR before the start of last season, and he recently missed a week of training camp practice with what was reported as a head injury. Second, he plays with a mean streak that can sometimes go over the line. He has been kicked out of two practices (one during OTAs, one during camp) for fighting, and he picked up an unnessesary roughness penalty in the AFC title game last season. Third, he has graded out as a below-average center by Pro Football Focus. Not only did the Patriots choose David Andrews, a second-year undrafted player out of Georgia, to start over Stork, but Andrews' rise made Stork expendable. Any team that picks up the Florida State product will get a center with good size (6-4, 313 pounds) and a Super Bowl start under his belt, but he won't arrive without his share of questions.

It's August and many more players are going to get cut. Scot McCloughan and his scouting team will be watching all the action unfold, and will consider their options with each player. Considering the red flags surrounding Stork - injuries, aggressiveness, and losing his job to an undrafted guy - he might not seem to be the right fit for the 'Skins. That said, he is a big mauler for the front line, a commodity McCloughan values.

Stay tuned.

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Redskins Playbook: How serious is Jamison Crowder's injury situation?

Redskins Playbook: How serious is Jamison Crowder's injury situation?

The side practice field at Redskins Park hosted a pair of surprises on Tuesday. On one hand Josh Doctson ran routes, showing more athleticism than he had in months. On the other, Jamison Crowder worked out next to Matt Jones, neither player in pads. Jones' workout on the side field - tended to by trainers - came as no surprise. Crowder, however, did. Here's what to watch on Wednesday as Washington takes the practice field at 1:10 p.m. for their last serious work before Friday night's preseason game against the Bills.

  1. Crowder watch - The Redskins slot receiver missed the first preseason game in Atlanta before playing last Friday against the Jets. Now dealing with a knee injury, Jay Gruden said Tuesday that "He’s just going through the rehab. We’ll see if he’s ready for Friday or not. I don’t know yet." Whether or not Crowder practices Wednesday will tell a lot toward his availability for the Bills game.
  2. More Norman noise - An ESPN the Magazine article focused on Josh Norman made headlines Tuesday, but the new Redskins cornerback did not want to address the buzz surrounding the story on Tuesday. Norman's comments may well blow over, but it's likely to generate a bit more questions for the next few days. 
  3. Guarding the line - Friday night will be interesting for many reasons, but the Redskins starters are expected to play the first half, and that includes the offensive line. Four out of the five positions seem certain, though left guard could be a bit of a mystery. Spencer Long has been taking reps with the first unit, though many expect that spot to eventually belong to Shawn Lauvao. Wednesday's practice could determine if Redskins brass thinks Lauvao is ready to reclaim the spot he held before injuries shut down his 2015 season, or if Long has secured his spot on the starting line.

Stay tuned all day for updates from @JPFinlayCSN.

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Demaryius Thomas to Josh Norman: Where's your Super Bowl ring?

Demaryius Thomas to Josh Norman: Where's your Super Bowl ring?

Josh Norman is bound to receive a lot of attention for the new story in ESPN The Magazine that centers around him. The Redskins star likely expects it, too, after calling himself "the best cornerback on earth" and Odell Beckham Jr. a "villain."

But Beckham isn't the only wideout whom the defensive back goes after in the feature. At one point, Norman says of Broncos pass catcher Demaryius Thomas, the target Norman held to just one catch in Carolina's Super Bowl loss to Denver: "I don't know what he was out there for. He was supposed to be an all-world guy, and I shut him down."

Well, that quote has clearly already reached Thomas, judging by this tweet he sent out on Tuesday:

Unfortunately, while Norman will have a chance this year to directly silence other players who've called him out this offseason — including the aforementioned Beckham, Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson and his former club who shockingly released him — the Broncos and Redskins aren't scheduled to face one another in 2016.

Unless, of course, both sides are able to make their way to Houston for Super Bowl 51. And if that matchup does somehow come to fruition, Norman will finally be in position to answer Thomas' Twitter taunt and secure a ring of his own. For now, however, Thomas has the upper hand... or finger, that is.

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