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The Basics: Stunner in the Superdome

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The Basics: Stunner in the Superdome

In summary:AsRobert Griffin IIIaddressed the media following Sundays 40-32 upset of the Saints, the Redskins rookie held a football his hands.Players dont normally bring balls to the podium. But Griffin didnt want to let this one out of his sight. This ball was special.It was the same one he threw toPierre Garonfor an 88-yard touchdown in the first quarter. That pass not only marked the first touchdown of Griffins career, just as important, it staked the Redskins to a lead they would not relinquish while hushing a boisterous crowd that had come to Superdome expecting a very different outcome.My first touchdown in the NFL, Griffin said, beaming.The touchdown pass to Garon was the seventh of eight consecutive completions to start the game for Griffin. In a lot ways, the missile he fired over the middle of the field also was a sign of things to come.Asked if his debut could have gone any better, Griffin revealed the perfectionist side of his personality that coaches and teammates hinted at throughout the preseason.We could have scored a few more points, he said. Nothing is every perfect; there are some plays I wish I could have back. Falling down on a keeper, fumbling in the red zone when he we had an guy open for a touchdown. Im not going to be a Debbie Downer. We won the game, so Im going to be happy about that.Enough about Griffin for the moment, though. (If you indeed want more, click here for my instant analysis of the game and here for Rich Tandlers breakdown of Griffins outing and where it fits historically.)Here are some other items of interest from todays stunner at the Superdome:Griffin, unplugged:Asked about his preparation, Griffin said he accidentally left his cell phone at home in Ashburn, allowing him to focus on the game and not field calls from the dozens of friends and family members who attended the game.My mind was really clear going into this game, he said. I just sat in my room and watched some TV, had time to think about things.Garon hobbled:Griffins top target did not play after scoring the touchdown. Its unclear how he was injured, but he said it happened on the scoring play, possibly when Saints corner back Patrick Robinson attempted a low, diving tackle from behind near the goal line and struck the top of his right foot.I should be good to go next week and be ready for St. Louis, Garcon said. Garcon added later that tests revealed he did not suffer a break.Third string safety Jordan Bernstine suffered a serious right knee injury in the fourth quarter. More could be known later this week.Sundbergs heroics:Long snapper Nick Sundberg suffered a broken left forearm on the blocked punt the Saints returned for a touchdown. Sundberg, however, returned to the game and made nine more snaps on field goals and punts.In high school, I broke the same bone, said Sundberg, adding that it was snapped by a Saints helmet. So I knew right away when it happened that it was broken. Were going to evaluate it this week. I dont want to sit out but ultimately its up to the coaching staff and how everything turns out once all the adrenaline goes away.Offensive play of the game:Garons 88-yard touchdown reception. On first and 10 and needing an answer to Jimmy Grahams touchdown moments earlier, the powerful receiver cut to the middle, then found himself alone in space when two Saints defensive backs collided. The official stats say Griffin threw the ball 16 yards and Garon did the rest.We just got lucky; they got out of position, Garon said. Robert threw a great ball and did my best to get in the end zone. The end zone looked like it was far. Looked at the screen a couple of times and was like, Gosh.Griffin added: One thing receivers dont want to do is run across the middle for a long period of time. I commend him for that.Defensive play of the game:With the Redskins clinging to a 33-25 lead after a touchdown and two point conversion by the Saints in the fourth quarter, DeJon Gomes cut in front of wide receiver Lance Moore and intercepted Drew Brees risky deep pass.Gomes then returned the ball, zigzagging across the field 49 yards to the New Orleans three-yard line. Alfred Morris punched the ball in one play later.Pass of the afternoon:In the second quarter, Griffin was flushed out of the pocket to left. Then he eluded Malcolm Jenkins, sprinted to the right and found tight end Fred Davis along the sidelined for a 26-yard completion.He made so many huge plays, the off-schedule plays, where the play breaks down a little but hes able to roll out of the pocket, buy some time, linebacker London Fletcher said. You see the poise and talent.By the numbers:Kicker Billy Cundiff was 4 for 4 on field goals, connecting from 37, 41, 37, and 45. He also booted six touchbacks, including one that hit the top part of the upright. Asked if that was his longest, it wasnt. He said he put one into the stands in Dallas a few years ago.Quotable:Wide receiver Josh Morgan on Griffin: Im real proud of the way hes just taking over the team. Hes making changes himself, kind of anticipating things. Thats what exciting for us as an offense, when you quarterback gets that type of confidence and that type of comfort. The sky is the limit because then he can start calling the plays himself.

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When it comes to Madden corners, there's Josh Norman, then everyone else

When it comes to Madden corners, there's Josh Norman, then everyone else

What do Chris Harris Jr., Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis have in common? They're all excellent NFL corners — and they all rank behind Josh Norman when it comes to ratings in Madden 17.

The Bronco (93 overall), the Seahawk (92), the Cardinal (91) and the Jet (91) should be proud of the grades handed to them for the next edition of the legendary video game. It's Norman, though, who's at the top of these top-notch defenders, checking in with a skillset that's good enough for a 94 in the eyes of EA Sports.

"Norman is expected to be a lock down corner for the Redskins this season," reads the description underneath Norman's name in a post ranking the elite cornerbacks that was published Thursday. "He is best in zone with his 97 zone coverage rating, but has the ability to match up in man to man situations with 90 speed and 92 man coverage."

These numbers are subject to change during the course of the season, so if No. 24 has a rough outing or two, he could tumble down a few points and give up the crown to someone else. As it stands now, however, Madden thinks he's the preeminent man at his position. 

And that's something Odell Beckham Jr. can't say.

RELATED: WHY DID SCOT MCCLOUGHAN PUNCH WALL?

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Redskins activate Perry Riley from PUP list, LB set for practice

Redskins activate Perry Riley from PUP list, LB set for practice

After opening training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Redskins coach Jay Gruden announced that LB Perry Riley has been activated and will practice on Friday.

Riley went out last December with a foot injury and missed the Redskins run to the NFC East title. A six-year veteran, Riley was drafted by the 'Skins in 2010 and emerged as a starter in 2011. Riley struggled somewhat early in the 2015 season, but his play was improving into the second half of the year.

"I expect him to come on and continue his strides," Gruden said of Riley's improved play. 

Coindence or not, Riley's play improved once Will Compton took over at starting linebacker for Keenan Robinson.

"I think it did," Gruden said of Riley playing better paired with Compton. "Maybe it's just the whole entire defense got better as the season went on."

Gruden said that the defense as a whole was becoming more comfortable with new coordinator Joe Barry, and that should only increase this season. 

Some think with a $5 million cap number - and a potential savings of $4 million if he was released - Riley could be subject to a roster squeeze. But after Compton and Mason Foster, Riley is the only inside linebacker with significant NFL experience on the roster compared to Martrell Spaight, Steven Daniels and Terence Garvin. 

It will be interesting to watch Riley's return from injury, both to see how he looks, and to watch where he fits with the defense. In nine games last season, Riley grabbed two interceptions and 24 tackles.

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Josh Norman using his physicality to help cure Matt Jones of 'fumble-itis'

Josh Norman using his physicality to help cure Matt Jones of 'fumble-itis'

RICHMOND—Josh Norman was brought to the Redskins to help the defense. But he’s trying to solve one of the potentially biggest problems facing the other side of the ball.

In a part-time role last year, running back Matt Jones fumbled the ball five times, losing four of them. This year Jones is projected to be the full-time running back and if he continues to fumble at the same rate Norman and company will be coming onto the field a lot sooner than they planned on many occasions.

Norman has taken it upon himself to try to fix this. When Jones is carrying the ball Norman makes an effort to knock it out of the back’s arms. It’s become a running competition between the two.

“We crack up all the time because [Jones] knows when he comes to that hole I’m looking for that ball,” said Norman. “I’m punching; I’m looking to get it out of there.”

So far, Jones is doing a good job with ball security, something he’s been working on all offseason.

“He’s holding that thing high and tight and I don’t know if I've got him once yet,” said Norman.

Norman said that his goal is to knock the ball out of Jones’ grasp five times during training camp.

“I’m going to be lurking, trust me, I’m going to try and get it,” he said. “And that makes him better because he knows he’s going to have to hold that thing tight.”