Wide receiver Brandon Banks has been informed that hes made the Redskins, Comcast SportsNets Chick Hernandez reported this morning.Banks had been the most significant question mark entering cutdown day. But a source close to Banks told Hernandez that the pint-sized playmaker is not a bubble guy and that his spot on the 53-man roster, which must be submitted to the NFL at 9 p.m., is safe.Banks likely secured his position with three plays this preseason.Although Banks muffed a punt and lost a fumble while filling in at tailback Wednesday against Tampa Bay at FedEx Field, the generously listed 5 foot 7, 153-pound fourth-year pro hauled in a 47-yard reception on a diving catch and took a reverse 43 yards into Buccaneers territory.Against the Bears, Banks provided the top highlight of the Redskins exhibition season when he returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown.Told by Coach Mike Shanahan at the outset of camp that he had to contribute at wide receiver in order to make the team, Banks likely proved himself to be too valuable as a game-breaker on special teams.In all this preseason, Banks returned seven punts for 161 yards (23 yards per), took back four kicks for 102 yards and made three receptions for 54 yards.After Wednesdays game, Banks was confident he would catch on somewhere, if not Washington.I think I put enough on film to still have a job somewhere, Banks said. If not here, somewhere else.
With conflicting rumors swirling around the Redskins interest in free agent Greg Hardy, ESPN's Adam Schefter said that Washington's pursuit of veteran sack master Dwight Freeney was more "realisitic."
"That would be a name more on the radar, more realistic than Greg Hardy," Schefter said of Freeney on ESPN980 on Wednesday morning (click here for full audio).
While 36-year-old Freeney is nearly a decade older than 27-year-old Hardy, the former Colts and Cardinals edge rusher had a much more productive 2015 season than Hardy did in Dallas. Freeney logged eight sacks as a situational pass rusher last year in Arizona, where as Hardy recorded six sacks and seemed to be a constant disruption for the Cowboys.
Hardy's off-field troubles also must be pointed out, while Freeney has always been a defensive leader on a host of playoff teams.
Schefter went on to say that he believes something will happen with Freeney soon, either in Washington or elsewhere in the NFL.
Any move to bring in another edge rusher only makes sense for the Redskins now that Junio Galette is lost for the season due to an Achilles injury.
This offseason Trent Murphy bulked up to switch from outside linebacker to 3-4 defensive end. The third-year pro out of Stanford added close to 30 lbs. of muscle onto his frame to take on the more consistent blocking of offensive linemen, but the move was largely predicated on the Redskins deploying Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Junior Galette from the outside linebacker spots.
Well, that plan has changed.
Galette will miss the 2016 season with a torn Achilles, and now the Redskins edge rushing linebacker group has gone from team strength to thin on the depth chart. A natural question then would be can Murphy shift back to the outside linebacker spot he played his first two years in the league?
"I have no idea," Ryan Kerrigan said about the move. "Who knows if that would be a possibility."
In two seasons with Washington, Murphy's numbers have been pedestrian, especially considering his second round draft status in 2014. As a rookie he notched 2.5 sacks in just eight starts and forced two fumbles. Last year, his sack total increased to 3.5 in 15 starts.
Murphy may be best suited as a 3-4 defensive end, especially with the added weight, as a run-stuffing defender. Strength has never been the issue for Murphy, where as lack of edge speed became apparent against NFL tackles.
"He’s carrying it pretty well," Kerrigan said of Murphy's added bulk. "He definitely looks bigger and stronger."
This situation is unique: playing defensive end might be the best position for Murphy, but with the Galette injury, the 'Skins might need more capable if not spectacular outside linebackers.
What should the Redskins do with Murphy - leave him at DE or move him back to OLB? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Just like fans were excited to see Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Junior Galette team up for the Redskins to rush opposing quarterbacks this fall, the players were excited too. When news broke that Galette would miss all of the 2016 season with a torn Achilles, fans were stunned. Turns out, the players were too.
"It definitely was shocking," Kerrigan said. "I wasn’t expecting to hear it, especially at the timing of it."
Not that there is ever a good time for a serious injury, but Galette missed all of 2015 with a torn Achilles. For more than a year, Galette posted to social media about his recovery and his excitement to get back on the field. At various Redskins training sessions this offseason, Galette could be seen working out, and he always talked about how fired up he was to get back on the field.
Now, for the second straight year, that won't happen.
"It's just hard because we’ve seen him put in the work to get healthy," Kerrigan said of Galette. "It’s heartbreaking for him, it's heartbreaking for us."
Kerrigan, speaking at a Good Humor event in downtown Washington on Tuesday, explained that he didn't even believe the Galette injury when he first heard it. He said a friend texted him with the news, and Kerrigan thought it was a joke, until he looked around online and saw all of the reports.
Now without Galette, the 'Skins still report to training camp on Wednesday, and the defense will need to adjust.
"Collectively, across the front, we gotta take it upon ourselves," Kerrigan said. "We got to be even more productive."
Washington ranked in the middle of the NFL with 38 sacks in 2015. Even without Galette, that number could improve as the defense should be better on the back end with the addition of Josh Norman and Kendall Fuller. Galette's loss will impact the defense's depth, as the talent drop off behind Smith and Kerrigan will be severe.
"We do have Houston Bates who has some game experience from last year," Kerrigan said. "We all gotta collectively step it up."
As for Galette, Kerrigan said he texted his injured teammate, sending him well wishes as he deals with a second straight season ending injury.
"You wish him emotional strength."