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20 questions in 20 days: 8 Will Morgan be worth the investment

20 questions in 20 days: 8 Will Morgan be worth the investment

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
CSNwashington.com20 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 8:Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?The background:On the first night of free agency, the Redskins gave Josh Morgan a contract that will end up being a two-year deal worth a cool 11.5 million. That is a lot of money, for a player who has no more than 52 receptions in any of his four years in the NFL, who doesnt have even a 700-yard season on his resume, and whose season ended after five games last year with a serious broken leg. In choosing to lock up all of that money in Morgan (his cap hit this year is 4.75 million) the Redskins bypassed opportunities to upgrade at positions of greater need like right tackle or safety.Tandler:As of right now, it looks like Morgan is the third or fourth wide receiver behind Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson, and possibly Santana Moss. He will get plenty of snaps as the Redskins will employ three- and four-receiver sets frequently. But those formations will only work if the offensive line can keep Robert Griffin III upright for long enough to find Morgan or another receiver. An investment there perhaps would have been more productive. Bottom line, the Redskins signed Morgan and released Anthony Armstrong. Morgan is clearly a better receiver than Armstrong but he will count about 4 million more against the cap than would Armstrong. I dont think that the difference between the two will prove to justify the opportunity cost of Morgans contract.El-Bashir:The argument could be made that the Redskins should have been more judicious with the money they spent on Morgan, and instead signed a veteran offensive tackle or, perhaps, upgraded the defensive secondary. But the offense amassed a woeful 18 points per game in 2011, and even with the addition of a dynamic rookie at quarterback, the team needed more weapons. Morgans size and speed could make him a dangerous one. I liked what I saw from the D.C. native this preseason as he hauled in nine receptions for 99 yards, seven first downs and a touchdown. At 6 foot 1, 220 pounds, Morgan can bowl over would-be tacklers and is ideal in short yardage and red zone situations. But his impact will depend on how often Robert Griffin III targets him, and with Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss and Dez Briscoe all in the mix, its possible Morgan will occasionally get lost in the shuffle.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 YesterdayHow much can Hightower contribute this year?
9 TodayWas making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
8 TodayWill Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
7 TomorrowWhat can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?
6 MondayIs the offensive line depth good enough?

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Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

ASHBURN, VA—Here is a look at what Jay Gruden covered in his Monday news conference after the Redskins’ win over the Giants.

—We hit on some of the major injury news but there is the complete list: “DeAngelo [Hall], torn ACL, has surgery – he’ll be out for the season. [Bashaud] Breeland, he got an MRI, he has strained tendons in his ankle – he’ll be week to week. Shawn Lauvao has a moderate ankle sprain, we’re going to evaluate him on a week-to-week basis. [Kory] Lichtensteiger has a moderate calf strain, again, week-to-week. [Josh] Doctson went out to pregame warmup and could not push off the way he wanted to, his Achilles was too sore, so we’ve just got to continue to treat him and figure out the roots of the problem and try to get it fixed. DeSean Jackson aggravated his knee and ankle, came back and finished the game. And [Dashaun] Phillips has a hamstring strain. That is it.”

—Gruden said that the loss of a veteran leader like Hall was a big one. “It’s a lot. He’s a captain, you know? He’s coming along, playing a lot better and better at safety, so it’s pretty significant.”

—He tried to sell the 0-3 Browns as a big threat but he wasn’t very convincing. “It’s a tough opponent, very good coaching staff, and got a lot of work to do.”

—Kirk Cousins was pretty good according to the coach but they need to get touchdowns in the red zone. “We tried a quarterback draw one time and we missed the hole a little bit. Had a couple throws that were covered, just couldn’t get it done. Can’t put a finger on one person in that area. It’s not all on Kirk,”

—Going into it, Gruden was about as confident as a coach could be on the fake punt play in the third quarter. “We did it in practice and Tress Way has a great arm – very accurate. Coaching staff on the special teams side of it saw that it was a possibility. We practiced it. He caught it every time but the first day in the walkthrough.”

—A majority of those in the press box plus the TV broadcast crew all thought that David Bruton had made a spectacular interception when he ripped the ball away from Odell Beckham in the end zone. So did Gruden. “I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy. I don’t know what the rule is. We just have got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball.” Gruden admitted that, like most of us, he doesn’t know what a catch is.

—The Redskins aren’t thinking about cranking out another winning streak like the one late last year that got them into the playoffs. “Yeah, I think the only thing you can do is… the ultimate clich√© is take it one game at a time. That’s the only thing can do. You can’t look ahead.”

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Why all options are on the table for Redskins' offensive line

Why all options are on the table for Redskins' offensive line

Facing multiple injuries, all options on table for Redskins O-line, including Trent Williams at guard.

For the second year in a row Redskins left guard Shawn Lauvao got injured playing against the New York Giants in Week 3. Lauvao's injury, combined with an injury to center Kory Lichtensteiger, left the Washington offensive line in disrepair. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that both offensive linemen are now on a week to week basis, and it sounds quite possible neither player will go next week against Cleveland. The coach called both injuries "moderate" - ankle sprain for Lauvao and calf strain for Lichtensteiger. 

The injuries mean the 'Skins are likely to bring in new linemen, particularly at center. 

"We're going to have to," Gruden said when asked about new help for the line. 

Once Lauvao and Lichtensteiger were injured in the Giants game, Gruden was forced to try an interesting combination. Veteran left tackle Trent Williams slid down to guard and Ty Nsekhe took over for Williams at tackle.

Importantly for the 'Skins, the results weren't bad.  

"He's so good at tackle but he actually played pretty darn good at guard," Gruden said of Williams. 

"He's a great athlete, probably be a good center too," the coach joked. 

MORE REDSKINS: NEXT MAN UP IS ROOKIE IN WASHINGTON

But Williams playing more guard should not be laughed at. The Redskins showed some of their best run game of the season late in the win against New York with Williams lined up next to Nsekhe.

Further, the coaching staff has repeatedly talked about how much they like Nsekhe as a tackle but that there was no spot for him with Williams and Morgan Moses healthy. As unusual as it sounds, with Williams at guard allows Nsekhe to get on the field at tackle. 

The Redskins do have another option in house: Arie Kouandjio. In his second year out of Alabama, Kouandjio has the size needed to play guard, but he is yet to be active on gameday this season and has been considered more of a development project than a player that is ready to roll. 

If Kouandjio is ready, he can play left guard and Williams stays in his normal spot at left tackle, protecting Kirk Cousins' blind side. 

"We'll just have to evaluate that situation and see how it goes, see how Arie does at left guard," Gruden said. "Ty is an excellent player, there's no question about it, but to move your Pro Bowl left tackle out of the mix to guard is something that's a little unique and hard to do."

Scot McCloughan made some strong moves last season bringing in players as injuries impacted the Redskins. Looks like the GM will again have that opportunity, this time on the offensive line.