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Bye week breakdown: Special teams

brandonbanksreturn.png

Bye week breakdown: Special teams

Bye week breakdown: Special teams 

What’s working: Kai Forbath doesn't possess as strong a leg as Billy Cundiff, but he certainly is more accurate than the kicker he replaced. In his first four NFL games, in fact, the 25-year-old is 8 for 8 on field goals, making him one of only four kickers who remain perfect.  Of those attempts, Forbath has made five from 40-49 yards out and one from 50 yards. Cundiff, by comparison, made only three of his final eight field goals attempts before being released. 

Forbath’s only hiccup has been a blocked extra point that he kicked too low.

While it’s too soon to know if he’ll be the kicker that stops the Redskins’ revolving door at the position, he’s certainly off to a strong start.

The Redskins’ kick and punt coverage teams, rank 15th and 4th, respectively, in average yards per return. Neither unit has allowed a touchdown, although the punt coverage unit benefited from an illegal block in Pittsburgh to nullify Antonio Brown’s 76 yard score two weeks ago.

Against the Eagles, the Redskins expect to get regular long snapper Nick Sundberg back from the broken arm that has sidelined him the past eight games. 

What isn’t: Kick returner Brandon Banks usually ranks among the fastest players on the field, but he hasn’t been able to put that speed to good use often enough. He ranks 21st in average kick return (24.6 yards per), with a long of 55. On punts, he ranks 25th (6.2), with a long of only 27.

Whether it’s Banks' indecision or the blockers in front of him, the Redskins’ need him to be more of a factor in the final seven games.

The punt team, meanwhile, has steadied itself after having kicks blocked in each of the first two games. But a little concern remains about the health of punter Sav Rocca, who has kicked the past three weeks with a torn meniscus in his right (kicking) knee, and left Redskins Park last weak sporting a brace and walking with a limp. Rocca has shanked one punt since the injury but is determined to play through it.

What’s got to improve: Speaking of field position, the Redskins need Forbath to be better on kickoffs – a responsibility he did not perform during his distinguished tenure at UCLA. Of Forbath’s 21 field goals, only 38-percent gave been touchabcks. Cundiff, by comparison, sent 62 percent of his 29 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

A detail, to be sure, but the Redskins will need every advantage they can get down the stretch.

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Browns WR Josh Gordon decides he needs to enter rehab

Browns WR Josh Gordon decides he needs to enter rehab

An explosive talent with a long-record of off-field issues, Browns receiver Josh Gordon announced Thursday that he will head for rehab.

Gordon missed the entire 2015 season due to a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy, but when he has played, he has produced. In 14 starts during the 2013 season Gordon caught 87 balls for more than 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns. 

MORE REDSKINS: JACKSON SHOULD BE READY FOR BROWNS

A teammate of Robert Griffin III's at Baylor, some in Cleveland hoped that reuniting the QB and WR would bring back their college fireworks. That plan faded first when Griffin got injured Week 1, and while Gordon is still suspended, some hope remained that the two could connect later in the season. For now, it seems that plan will not work. 

Without the decision to enter a rehab facility, Gordon would have missed the Redskins game this Sunday due to suspension.

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Gruden presser wrapup: Redskins' Jackson should be ready for Browns

Gruden presser wrapup: Redskins' Jackson should be ready for Browns

Here are the highlights of Jay Gruden’s Thursday news conference:

—Don’t look for John Sullivan to start at center on Sunday. “I think the first go around will be as a backup—which is very important as we found out last week.” Between this and the word around Redskins Park that Trent Williams is going to play left tackle it looks like Arie Kouandjio will make his first NFL start at left guard against the Browns.

—Gruden said on Monday that Bashaud Breeland (ankle) and Shawn Lauvao (ankle) are “week to week” with their injuries. When asked if he could assign a number to how much time each is expected to miss, Gruden said he couldn’t. “It just depends on how quickly they recover.”

—Gruden has been impressed with Trent Murphy ever since he came to the team as a second-round pick in 2014. Now others are becoming impressed with him as he leads the team in sacks with 3. The coach cited Murphy’s work ethic in the weight room and on the field as reasons for his emergence.  

—Jamison Crowder is tied for the team lead with 16 receptions and he has caught two touchdown passes. Gruden said that he hasn’t necessarily improved from last year. “He’s just getting more opportunities—ball in his hand. He’s playing a lot more.”  

—DeSean Jackson (knee/ankle) was limited in practice on Thursday after being out on Wednesday. “He’ll do more tomorrow,” said Gruden. “And I think he should be ready to go, I would guess.”

—It looks like Gruden is trying to motivate Matt Jones a little bit. He said that he liked Jones’ running style on the final drive. But before that, not so much. “I think in the first three quarters there are some runs he didn’t cap off like we want him to, really to be quite honest.”

—Will we see Duke Ihenacho on Sunday? “Could be,” he said. “We’re going to dress four safeties most likely and they’re all probably get an opportunity.” Ihenacho played 13 snaps against the Giants, his first action on defense this year.