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Forbath still perfect on FG's


Forbath still perfect on FG's

Special teams

Grade vs. Giants: B

Comment: First-year player Kai Forbath has made folks quickly forget about the Redskins’ early season kicking struggles.

Forbath connected on field goals from 20, 43 and 45 yards. Add to that his 50-yarder against the Vikings and the 25-year-old is a perfect 4 for 4 in his young NFL career.

Forbath seems to have quickly discovered the chemistry and timing with his holder and snapper that eluded Billy Cundiff during his brief tenure in Washington.

On kickoffs Sunday, Forbath put five of six in the end zone but only two resulted in touchbacks. The Giants returned four of Forbath’s kicks for a total of 106 yards (26.5 yards per return). Thirty-two of those yards came on the opening kickoff after an offsides infraction on Chris Wilson forced the Redskins to re-kick.

A major concern entering the game was the health of punter Sav Rocca, who had injured his right knee while jogging on Thursday. It never became a factor because the Redskins went for it on fourth down three times (and converted each of them), leaving Rocca with just one opportunity to punt – a unimpressive 33-yarder in the third quarter. Good coverage, however, forced Rueben Randall to call for a fair catch.

The big story line on special teams has been Forbath’s accuracy. He may not produce touchbacks as often as Cundiff, but as long as he puts the ball between the uprights, he’s a big-time upgrade at an often undervalued position.

Something to monitor: Long snapper Nick Sundberg (broken arm) has been cleared to resume practice and will do so Wednesday. He cannot, however, suit up for a game until Week 11 per NFL rules.

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Redskins' Matt Jones misses another practice, in doubt for Sunday

Redskins' Matt Jones misses another practice, in doubt for Sunday

Redskins running back Matt Jones did not not participate in practice on Thursday, one day after sitting out practice with knee soreness. His availability for Sunday's game against the Bengals in London looks very much in doubt. 

Coach Jay Gruden told the media after Wednesday's practice that Jones was reporting knee soreness with lateral movement. 

If the second-year back can't play Sunday, Gruden said rookie Robert Kelley would get the majority of carries and Chris Thompson would continue playing third-down back as normal. 

The game could represent a big opportunity for Kelley after Jones fumbled twice in last week's loss to the Lions. 

Gruden is expected to update the media on his players' health at Thursday's postgame press conference. 

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Redskins running back Robert Kelley likely to get more carries Sunday

Redskins running back Robert Kelley likely to get more carries Sunday

The Redskins are about to find out what Robert Kelley can do and if their gamble to stay in-house at the running back position is going to pay off.

Whether Matt Jones is able to play on Sunday against the Bengals or not, it seems inevitable that Kelley, the undrafted rookie out of Tulane, will get a lot of carries. His career high in rushing attempts in a game is five. If Jones doesn’t play, Kelley could surpass that total in the first quarter. Jay Gruden said that Kelley, not Chris Thompson, will get the lead back role.

“You know, Chris has such an important role as far as third downs and his specialty role that we need him in that role and he’s not a very big guy,” Gruden said. “We don’t want to give him the ball 35 times between the tackles, you know? We’d like to have a more physical guy do that. Chris is going to get plenty of touches without a doubt but if Matt can’t go it’ll be mainly Chris and obviously Robert.”

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Even if Jones can go, his knee injury and his fumbling problems are likely to reduce his normal workload. Some of his carries are likely to go to Kelley.

While many would like to see what Kelley can do in extended action there is no way of knowing how effective he may be. It is something of a crapshoot. Kelley is averaging an impressive 6.1 yards per carry, but that number is inflated by 45-yard run against the Eagles. Still, 21 of his 31 carries have gone for five yards or longer. If he can get five or more on two out of three carries and protect the football on Sunday the coaches will be very happy.

One person with a vested interest in seeing Kelley succeed is Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan. All offseason, fans and many in the media were asking where the veteran running back was. Few thought it would be wise to go into the season with just Jones, who is in his second season and his first as a starter, and Thompson, who has just one full season in the third-down role.

But no veteran running back was signed, and the job as the third running back went to Kelley. If he can handle the role then McCloughan’s strategy will be vindicated. If not, the GM will have some egg on his face as he searches for an acceptable alternative to Jones.

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