Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out

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Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out

Checking out the latest enemy intelligence on the Redskins next opponent, Da Bears...Cutler, Forte set for preseason debuts: After sitting out the Bears opener last week against the Broncos, Chicago's starting quarterback Jay Cutlerand all-everything running back Matt Forte will take to the field for the first time this preseason Saturday against the Redskins. Don't expect offensivecreativity to join them."Were going to keep things pretty basic," said Cutler, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "What we unroll against the Redskins isnt the final product. We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to execute plays. But its not going to be the end of the world if were not clicking on all cylinders."The Bears went 7-3 last season with Cutler under center, buta broken thumb ended his season with six game remaining. Without thenot-so cuddly signal caller, who cut down on his turnovers and performed more as heady leader compared to his tempestuous past, Chicago lost five of its final six games and missed the postseason. As for why Cutler missed Bears' most recent game, the birth of his first child came the day before.Chicago's leading rusher and receiver last year, Forte will also make his preseason debut after acting only as an observer last week - a role he also performed throughout much of the season due to a contract squabble. Without the 26-year-old all-purpose back in the lineup against the Broncos, the Bears totaled 36 yards on 21 carries. Free agent Michael Bush brings additional firepower to Chicago's ground game this season.And when Cutler sits...: Former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is expected to take over. Though it's still a little surprising the now 30-year-old (wow, 30!) could not land either a starting job or a scenario where he could find move into the lineup without an injury occurring elsewhere, the Bears are certainly better off for with his presence. Campbell, who signed a one-year, 3.5 million deal this offseason, completed 4 of 5 passes for 13 yards against Denver last week.Protecting the offensive line: The group of blockers expected to keep Cutler upright often had their quarterback running for his life last season. Part of new offensive coordinator Mike Tice's attempt at helping the leaky situation? Eliminate all seven-step drops from the Bears passing game and go with three and five step kind. That means rather than simply relying on hiscannon of a passing arm,Cutler now must engage in quicker mental gymnastics to find targets. That in itself is a new dynamic, but one that should helplimitthe hits and sacks.It also should help Tice gets some Z's. After the Denver loss, Tice joked (I think) the team's offensive line woes "causes him to have trouble sleeping at night."The dicey left tackle situation alone surely leads to insomnia. Tice indicated this week the Bears intend on keeping a tight end on the line next to incumbent and suspect starter J'Marcus Webb and challenger Chris Williams in order to fend off the Redskins outside pass rush led by Brian Orakpo. No Urlacher: The one Chicago defender everyone knows underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, taking Brian Urlacher out not just for the Redskins game, but the entire preseason. Optimistically the Bears are hoping the perennial Pro Bowl middle linebacker will return for the September 9 opener against Indianapolis. (Chicago Sun-Times).Fantasy focus: Brandon Marshall's reunion with Cutler, his former teammate with the Broncos, provides the Bears with their best wide receiver threat in years. Perhaps as interesting is what's going on at the other receiver role where big-bodied rookie Alshon Jeffery is making a run at the starting spot opposite Marshall. The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder caught four passes in the preseason opener and has been a practice standout throughout the summer. With or without the Week 1 starting job, Jeffery is a fantasy sleeper that should go off the board in the later rounds.

Months later, Redskins ILB Perry Riley still battling foot injury

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Months later, Redskins ILB Perry Riley still battling foot injury

One of the more surprising developments from the first week of Redskins OTAs was Perry Riley on the sidelines wearing a walking boot.

The inside linebacker was enjoying one of the best stretches of his career late last season when he hurt his foot. The injury, which occurred in practice, was expected to sideline him for 3-6 weeks following a procedure to insert a pin into the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

Nearly six months later, Riley is still experiencing soreness and discomfort.

He acknowledged this week that he overexerted himself in the lead-up to January’s playoff game and suffered a setback. In all, Riley missed the final five regular season games and the Wild Card loss to the Packers.

Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday that Riley is scheduled to be reexamined by a specialist.

“He has some issues with his foot; a little soreness,” Gruden said. “We’re keeping him in a boot to protect it, and then we’ll consult a doctor and hopefully get him back soon.”

An exact timeframe for Riley has not been determined, but the seventh year veteran indicated to reporters that he intends to be ready for training camp in late July, if not sooner. The Redskins have two more weeks of OTAs and a mandatory veteran minicamp in mid-June.

In the meantime, Will Compton and Mason Foster are working as the first team inside linebackers. The duo finished the 2015 campaign as the starting ‘Mike’ and ‘Mo’ starters, respectively.    

Before signing Josh Norman, Redskins had sights set on Brandon Browner

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Before signing Josh Norman, Redskins had sights set on Brandon Browner

When the Carolina Panthers unexpectedly rescinded Josh Norman's franchise tag in late April, the Redskins quickly swooped in and landed the dynamic, ball-hawking cornerback. But if all had gone the team's way, Norman would have been just the icing on the cake.

A few weeks prior to Norman becoming a member of the Redskins, the Seattle Seahawks signed former "Legion of Boom" member Brandon Browner to a one-year deal after a failed stint with the New Orleans Saints. 

On Thursday, Browner spoke to Seattle media members, and let it slip that the Redskins had made an offer to him. 

Now, it's hard to know if the Redskins would have so quick to pursue Norman if they were able to sign Browner, what with Bashaud Breeland progressing nicely at the other corner. 

But it is fun to imagine the possibilities.

RELATED: REDSKINS LEGEND COMMENTS ON RICHARD SHERMAN

 

Redskins' Kerrigan, Compton team up to help young fan with Spina bifida

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Courtesy of Amanda Carrera

Redskins' Kerrigan, Compton team up to help young fan with Spina bifida

It’s very easy to get jaded when thinking about professional sports and social media, especially where those two things intersect, particularly when fans spew vitriolic comments after nearly every event. 

But, sometimes, pro sports and social media can produce great stories, and tremendous results. The recent story of Cameron Carrera counts as one of those stories.

A first-grader at Urbana Elementary School in Urbana, Md., Cameron was born with Spina bifida, a birth defect that damages the spinal cord and leads to other lifelong health issues.

Despite his condition, Cameron is a fun-loving kid, and like many young boys, loves football.

“He loves the Redskins, typical boy, the only thing that’s different for him is he can’t walk,” Amanda Carrera, Cameron’s mom, explained.

“He just loves the Redskins,” Carrera said of her 7-year-old son. “He always says one day when he’s older he wants to be a Redskins player. I say ‘we will figure it out.’”

Cameron, who uses a wheelchair, also has two sets of braces for his legs. His request? Put the Redskins logo on them. Twice a week Cameron endures tough physical therapy sessions - though he is paralyzed from the knees down he is working to walk using a walker. Despite the PT and obvious hurdles, Amanda remains amazed at her son’s positivity.

“He always says ‘I’ll walk when I’m older’ or ‘when I’m bigger I’ll play football,’” she said. “I don’t want to crush his dreams. We’ll figure it out.”

While Cameron’s football playing future may be in doubt, it’s remarkable what has happened for the Carreras during the last six months to dramatically improve their lives. 

“We’ve needed a handicap accessible van,” Amanda said, explaining that the van required a special mechanical seat for Cameron, “and $10,000 for this chair was just out of our reach.”

So knowing they needed the chair, the family started a Go Fund Me account last fall. 

“It’s crazy how much social media can help,” Amanda said. “Within two or three months, we have more than 200 people donate for our van.”

Once the Go Fund Me account became so popular, friends of friends joined in the effort to help Cameron. A friend offered tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll, where Cameron got to meet Ryan Kerrigan.

In May, the Mom’s Club of Urbana held a fundraiser to benefit Cameron, but prior to the fundraiser, Amanda explained to the group that her son loves the Skins. So what happened next? A signed Kirk Cousins jersey.

From there, through the help of more social media and more friends of friends, things really started to snowball. Once he learned more about Cameron’s condition from CSN Director of Strategic Partnerships Eric Shuster, Kerrigan sent along a video.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” Amanda said. “It’s really been a whirlwind and Cameron is just loving all the attention.”

After Kerrigan’s video, Redskins LB Will Compton joined the party, only with a distinct take. It seems Cameron had not heard of Compton, so the linebacker did his best to clear up any confusion.

“That video was hilarious,” Amanda said of Compton’s video. “That made it really special for him, he said, ‘Oh wow, he wants to meet me.’”

Kerrigan, reached for comment, made clear he didn't intend for his message to become a news item. He just wanted to reach out to Cameron after meeting him at the White House.

"It's a pleasure as a professional athlete to help bring a smile on a child's face," Kerrigan said of his video.

One interesting wrinkle in the Carrera family dynamic: Amanda is a lifelong Skins fan, and she obviously passed that on to her son. Her husband Danny, however, likes the Cowboys.

“That’s the funny part, my husband is a Cowboys fan,” Amanda said via text, before adding Danny is obviously “so thankful” for what the Redskins players are doing for Cameron.

Amanda, who works as a civilian at Fort Detrick, and Danny, who manages a Bed, Bath & Beyond, don’t know what to expect next from the Redskins. The videos have been surprises, though Amanda said she would love to bring Cameron to a practice to meet the players.

In late June, Cameron will celebrate his eighth birthday. With about a month lead time, maybe the ‘Skins players will come up with something fitting.