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In-depth chart: Receivers and tight ends


In-depth chart: Receivers and tight ends

The Redskins 90-man offseason roster is set, at least for the time being. Its time to take a look at who they have, who will start, and who will be around when the Sept. 9 opener in New Orleans rolls around.Weve looked the the offensive backs and line. Today the wide receivers and tight ends go under the microscope.Wide receiverStarters:Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson
Reserves: Josh Morgan
Fighting for a job: Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin, Brandon Banks, Aldrick Robinson, Lance Lewis, Darius Hanks, Brian HernandezWhen Mike Shanahan was asked last week who his top receivers were he rattled off Garon, Hankerson, and Morgan. The Redskins paid a lot-overpaid, some would say-to bring in Morgan from the 49ers and Garon from the Colts. Hankerson was developing into a solid option when he got injured last year.Moss is probably safe but he still has to compete. He is scheduled to make 2.65 million this year and thats a lot for the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart. But he does know the offense well and he could be of great help in breaking in rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.Armstrongs production fell off a cliff last year after a promising rookie year in 2010. Austin has had some opportunities, but not many, to show that he deserves to stick around. Banks may have to show that he can contribute from scrimmage in addition to his kick return duties if he is going to see a third season in Washington.It would not be surprising to see Lewis make a run at a spot on the 53-man roster; his talent has been compared to that of Brandon Lloyd. Hanks didnt see much action in the passing game at Alabama so he will have to show that he can be productive in an NFL offense.Jabar Gaffney, last year's leading receiver, was released on May 1.Tight endStarter: Fred Davis
Reserve: Niles Paul, Chris Cooley
Fighting for a job: Logan Paulsen, Richard Quinn, Beau RelifordA good tight end can be a young quarterbacks best friend and the Redskins hope that Davis will fill that role for Griffin. He was one of the bright spots in a dreary offense last year until he was suspended for the final four games.Cooley could well be put into the fighting for a job category as his 3.8 million salary is hefty for a player who wont start. But Cooley, like Moss, could be kept around as an expensive luxury who could help Griffin get his feet under him. He will need to demonstrate that his knee is sound, making the offseason program key for him.It remains to be seen how well Paul will covert from wide receiver to tight end but they probably didnt move him there with the idea of cutting him. Its going to be very tough to keep four tight ends on the roster so Paulsen is going to be challenged to make it despite the fact that hes the best blocking tight end on the roster.

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What should the Redskins do at running back?

What should the Redskins do at running back?

A week ago the Redskins rushed for 230 yards against a strong Eagles defense. Matt Jones led the way, gaining 135 yards including 57 on a game-clinching long run in the last minutes of the game.

Now fast forward to today and there is widespread clamoring for Jones to be benched, perhaps permanently. Having a hand in three fumbles, two of which were lost, will do that.

The first one, for some reason, was charged to Kirk Cousins, although it appeared to be a clean handoff. Jones lost the handle but he recovered it. No harm in that play but it foreshadowed problems to come.

Later on in the first quarter the damage started. On a first and goal play from the seven Jones was fighting for extra yardage inside the five when the ball popped out and rolled into the end zone. The Lions recovered, costing the Redskins at least three and possibly seven points.

Protecting the ball when fighting for yardage is running back 101. Jones needs to retake that course.

The other fumble, in the third quarter with the Redskins driving in Lions territory, was rightfully charged to Cousins. He tripped on the foot of center Spencer Long and tried to get the handoff to Jones anyway. But the missed connections and the Lions recovered the loose ball.

You can’t can put too much of the blame on Jones, but there are plenty of running backs out there who would have reacted to the situation better and would have made an adjustment.

Jones also lost a fumble against the Ravens two weeks ago. After doing a good job of holding onto the ball all during training camp, the preseason, and the start of the regular season, an old problem (Jones lost four fumbles last year) is rearing its ugly head.

So there’s the problem. What’s the solution?

After the second fumble, Jones had just one carry. That may have been at least in part because by the time they got the ball back they were down 13-3 I the fourth quarter. But you have to think that the ball security problems had a lot to do with it.

The rest of the game was mostly the Chris Thompson show with a little bit of Robert Kelley mixed in. For the game Thompson led the team in rushing with 12 carries for 73 yards and threw in seven receptions for 40 yards. Kelley ran four times for 15 yards and he got his first career touchdown on his first career reception.

It worked, in that the Redskins had a four-point lead with 1:05 to go. It’s wasn’t enough but they put up 417 yards and got 26 first downs.

The problem is, having Thompson as your leading rusher is not sustainable. At 5-8, 195 he is not likely to be able to take the pounding if the team needs someone to carry the ball 20 times or so in consecutive games.

Maybe Kelley is the way to go. He’s 6-0, 228, better built to take the punishment. I don’t think the coaches are at the point yet where they fully trust him to handle all aspects of the job for 40+ snaps. But it’s hard to trust Jones at any point of the game right now.

It could unfold something like this: Jones sees very limited action against the Bengals and Thompson and Kelly share the load with about 10-12 carries each. Jones gets back to basics on ball handling (I haven’t seen the ball that beeps when it’s not gripped properly out a practice for a while) and eventually he gets another shot at being the prime running back.

Let’s remember that Jones has a 4.6-yard average per carry this year. That’s not great but it’s pretty good. He has some talent and he’s a worthwhile reclamation project. But I do think he needs a while to ponder the work he has to do.

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Effective in Detroit but lacking big plays, Kirk Cousins says 'I go where my reads take me'

Effective in Detroit but lacking big plays, Kirk Cousins says 'I go where my reads take me'

For whatever reason, a small subset of Redskins fans want to blame Kirk Cousins for any and all Washington losses.

Cousins is not to blame for the team's 20-17 Week 7 loss in Detroit.

In fact - Cousins played well.

He completed 30 of 39 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown, not to mention running for the go-ahead score with under two minutes left. 

That said, the Redskins offense lacked explosive plays, surprising against a suspect Lions secondary that lost top cornerback Darius Slay to a hamstring injury during the game. Afterwards, Cousins explained why so many of his passes seemed to go to underneath routes.


"I go where my reads take me," Cousins said after the game. 

Against the Lions, that largely meant to Jamison Crowder, who had seven catches for 108 yards. Tight end Vernon Davis and running back Chris Thompson also had big days, combining for 13 catches and 119 yards. 

Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson, however, were largely silent, especially in the first half. Jackson finished with five catches for 35 yards, but never once got a deep ball thrown his way. Garçon got even less - two catches for 22 yards.

"I may not be going to DeSean or Pierre every time," Cousins said, "but we're completing the football and going where my reads take me."

Both receviers are in contract years, and for Jackson in particular, his stats are way down. Known as a top vertical threat, Jackson is currently averaging 13.6 yards-per-catch. Last season, he averaged 17.6, and in 2014 that average was nearly 21 YPC. This comes after Jackson looked great throughout training camp and many that watched him in Richmond expected a big year for the veteran wideout. 

Garçon, speaking after the game, explained that deep balls are part of the offense but defenses can also gameplan to stop that facet. In the season opener against Pittsburgh, the Steelers deployed a soft zone coverage against Cousins that did not allow for much vertical attempts. It's possible the Lions borrowed parts of that plan on Sunday.

"We can't really control it," Garçon said.

After wins, players can look past not getting the ball. The victory matters most. After losses, it's only natural for players to wonder how they might have helped the team more, and in spots, frustration can mount.

Cousins might grow frustrated at having to answer questions about where he's throwing the ball, especially on a day when he completed 76 percent of his passes. It's only natural.

On the other side, all receivers want the ball, and top flight guys like Jackson command it.

Without the attempts, frustration could mount, and that too is only natural. 


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