Cundiff comes through when it counts for Redskins

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Cundiff comes through when it counts for Redskins

TAMPAAfter Sundays 24-22 victory over the Buccaneers, Billy Cundiff put his foot up on a chair in the jubilent visitors' locker room. As he tied his shoe, wide receiver Josh Morgan bent over, grabbed a shower towel and pretended to polish the kickers Oxford.

They let out a hearty laugh.

A few minutes earlier on the field at Raymond James Stadium, Cundiff, Morgan and the rest of the Redskins had let out a sigh of relief after the team avoided a potentially devastating defeat.

The visitors had blown a 16-point second half lead, but with seven seconds remaining Cundiff booted a 41-yarder to clinch the win.Cundiff had missed his first three field goal attempts, including a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter.

I knew if I just got that chance -- no matter how bad a kicker I was in the game -- that I would make it, Cundiff said after the game.

Asked what was different on the game winner, the veteran cracked, We could get really kicker specific, or I could just tell you that I didnt choke.

Cundiff acknowledged that he probably would have been looking for a new job on Monday had he missed a fourth attempt and the Redskins lost by a single point. As it turned out, though, hell almost assuredly be in Ashburn, studying what we went wrong on the other three kicks.

I was just hoping he could keep focus after he missed the first one, Coach Mike Shanahan said. I told him it was going to come down to the game-winner and it did. He did a great job of concentrating.

But it wasnt easy, Cundiff conceded later.

It is tough, he said of being confident on the final kick after struggling. This place wasnt sold out, but everyone who was there essentially was reminding me of bad I performed earlier in the game. To find out about yourself, you have to be tested.

Here are some other notes, quotes and observations from the Redskins slump-busting victory:

Second half slipup:After limiting the Buccaneers to six points in the first half, the Redskins again struggled with big pass plays in the second half.

Two in particular hurt thema 65-yard completion to Mike Williams on a drive that culminated in a touchdown and a 54-yard pass to Vincent Jackson that also led to a score.

They made plays, said cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who had an interception as well as a few of blown coverages. They caught the ball. I gave up a couple.

Safety Madieu Williams added: We have to look at the film and be very critical of ourselves. Because in this league, you have to play four quarters. Although we played very well in first half, we have to play the complete game and we have yet to do that.

Injury update:Brandon Meriweather will have an MRI on his left knee on Monday after being involved in a scary pre-game collision with Aldrick Robinson. Both players had been expected to play but were put on the inactive list.

Meriweather was scheduled to make his season debut after missing the first three games with a two sprained ligaments in his right knee.

Robinson, meantime, was knocked unconscious during the collision. He likely will be subject to the NFLs protocol regarding concussions.

With Meriweather sidelined, the team turned to veteran Reed Doughty instead of second-year safety DeJon Gomes, who had started the first three games but was struggling.

Up and down kind of day:Pierre Garon, who missed the previous two games with a foot injury, returned Sunday and scored his teams first touchdown when he recovered Robert Griffin IIIs fumble in the end zone.

It felt good to get back out there and help the team as much as I could, he said. I knew all week that I was going to play. I was not 100-percent but I did everything I could.

Overall, it was an uneven afternoon for Garon. He had the touchdown, one reception (on one target) for 20 yards and drew a pass interference call. But he also was called for offensive pass interference and unnecessary roughness for throwing a late block on Aqib Talib.

It was during the play, playing through the whistle, he said.

Garon said he and his tender right foot emerged unscathed from the game.

Anatomy of miss (or three):Cundiff took fully responsibility for his first three misses.

On the first (from 41 yards) he said the timing between himself and snapper Justin Snow and holder Sav Rocca was off. The kick was yanked way wide of the uprights.

Its up to me to get in rhythm with those two guys, he said. Were still trying to gel and mesh.

On the second miss (from 57 yards) he said the snap and hold all went smoothly. He just didnt get enough leg into it. I was a yard or two short, he said. So that actually was not a bad kick.

The third (a miss from 31 yards) he called a, Complete mental error.

We got the win, but thats not the kind of stuff you want to put on film, he said. And thats not the stuff you want your teammates to see knowing that in the fourth quarter they have to be able to trust you.

Technical difficulties:Griffin said the one-way radio in his helmet stopped working on the final drive, which began inside two minutes.

In practice every week we always practice me calling the plays in the two-minute offense as if the headset goes out, Griffin said. I had to call a couple of my own plays and we moved the chains and got into field goal range. It was neat how that practice scenario played out in the game. You dont want it to happen, but I was pleased.

Griffin completed 26 of 35 passes for 323 yards all career highs.

Quotable: Ryan Kerrigan: "There's a huge different between 2-2 and 1-3. Hopefully this can be the start of something for us."

Quotable, part II: Hall on the Redskins defense Sunday: Average. We cant win letting leads like that go. Weve got to buckle down and finish games off.

By the numbers:The Redskins have scored 123 points through four games, the franchises highest point total during a four-game stretch since the 1999 season.

Play of the game:
With the Redskins leading 21-13 at the end of the third quarter, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called for a little trickery.

Griffin passed to Brandon Banks, who passed back to Griffin. Griffin then hit Niles Paul for a 30-yard gain.

It wasnt pretty, but it got the job done.

Unsung hero:
Trent Williams had a pronounced limp and a big brace on his right knee, but the starting left tackle played through the pain.

And, it should be noted, he played quite well after hardly practicing all week.

I got by, he said. I didnt totally dominate but we did enough to win. I was so caught up in the game, with it being so close, my knee was the last thing on my mind.

He added: I felt like I owe it to this team, to this city to get out there and battle through the pain.

Williams said he couldnt bring himself to watch Cundiffs final kick sail through the uprights.

I just watched Cundiffs reaction, he said. He made it when it counted.

Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

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Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

It all happened for Jordan Reed in 2015. He mostly stayed healthy - able to start 14 of 16 games - and played every game with the same quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The results broke Redskins records, as Reed hauled in 87 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Reed put up elite numbers for the tight end position, and in early May, the team paid Reed like an elite tight end. He signed a five-year, $46.5 million extension that will run through 2021, numbers that place Reed with the third-highest annual salary in the NFL.

His Redskins teammates noticed. It's common practice around the NFL for players to congratulate a new contract, and then promptly go into razz mode. It's part of the deal with getting a large contract extension, and Reed was no exception.

Asked if he had heard about his new contract during the Redskins OTA sessions this week, Reed smiled and confessed (full video above).

"I fell down yesterday and they were talking junk, ‘We ain't pay you 50 to fall down’ and things like that," Reed said on Wednesday. "They all over me man but it’s all fun."

The "50" in reference would be $50 million, so looks like the Redskins players are rounding up on Reed's deal. Plus, saying 50 is a lot easier than 46.5. More importantly, Reed knows the extra attention is meant in a fun way, and as other players have been asked about Reed's deal, all say the young tight end deserves it all.

"With Jordan Reed, you know he was so talented last year I mean how do you build on a season where you were as successful as he was?" Cousins said. "We would love to be able to develop sustained success where it is not just a one year flash in the pan and I think that is the challenge and message not just to Jordan but a lot of people."

Cousins' statement echoed the voices of many at Redskins Park. This team wants to prove that the success of 2015 was not a fluke, from GM Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden all the way down to the bottom of the roster.

And Reed is no different. On Wednesday Reed went deep on a wheel route, at least 30 or 40 yards downfield, and Cousins threw to him. The ball was slightly out of reach, yet Reed still fully extended and dove for the ball. In May. In OTAs.

"I can’t help it," Reed said when asked if the coaches and front office would want their new highly compensated tight end laying out for a ball in the offseason.

"I see the ball in the air and my instincts take over," he said. "I'm gonna go hard in practice."

Certainly Reed's size and skill were key to his new contract, but that attitude played a large role as well. 

 

 

Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

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Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

Safety David Bruton Jr. had options on the free agent market, but he ultimately chose Washington for one big reason: with the Redskins, he'd get the opportunity to compete for a starting job.

“We definitely have some competition back there, but I am blessed enough to have the first crack at it,” Bruton said this week. “Being in my eighth year, I was definitely looking to be more than just special teams ace and defensive role player. I felt like this was the best opportunity [to start], and I’m happy to be here.“

“I’m here to make this a new home,” he added, “and make my name known here.”

Well, so far, so good.

During Wednesday’s OTA practice, DeAngelo Hall occupied one safety position with the first-team defense and Bruton lined up at the other. The other player in the mix, Duke Ihenacho, worked with the second team.

Coach Jay Gruden hinted that Hall has been penciled in as one starter and that Bruton and Ihenacho are in competition at the other spot. Gruden, though, also made it clear that it’s awfully early in the offseason and that a lot can change.

“I always say that’s the beauty of a pencil—you got an eraser,” Gruden said. “We had to start somewhere.”

Listed at 6 foot 2, 225-pounds, Bruton, who spent the past seven seasons as a backup/special teams standout in Denver, is biggest defensive back on the roster. In 104 games with the Broncos, he made eight starts, including a career-high three last season. Ihenacho, meantime, won the starting job in Washington last offseason but suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the opener. Interestingly, Bruton and Ihenacho were teammates in Denver from 2012-13.   

“Bruton is doing a good job and Duke is in that mention,” Gruden added. “We [also] moved [cornerback] Will Blackmon back to safety; he’s learning, feeling his way through there. [Deshazor] Everett is doing a good job. Geno [Matias] Smith from Alabama, he’s learning it. So we’re going to have some people out there to compete. But right now, as a starting point, Bruton/Nacho are doing fine.”

For now, Bruton's got the first crack at it. But as Gruden said, there’s a lot of offseason left. This, indeed, could be a position to monitor throughout the spring and summer.

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.