When the Redskins open the preseason Thursday in Buffalo, a number of players who are engaged in position battles will get their first chance to make an impression.Incumbent kicker Graham Gano is one of them.Through two weeks of training camp, Gano has acquitted himself well as he attempts to fend off Neil Rackers, the veteran signed this offseason to challenge him. Gano and Rackers both are unofficially 16 for 19 in the three head-to-head field goal competitions thus far.But, as Gano and special teams Coach Danny Smith conceded this week, practice means relatively little when determining which kicker makes the 53-man roster. It really will come down to what transpires during the teams four preseason contests, beginning with the Bills.Thats what separates everybody; its execution under pressure, Smith said Thursday in his first public comments since training camp began. Were going put them in those pressure situations and see who executes the best.Smith said his biggest challenge as a position coach will be to ensure that both Gano and Rackers get equal opportunity to show what they can do. To accomplish that, Smith said he plans to have the player who kicks a field goal or point after to also take the ensuing kickoff, as to simulate a normal game routine.On Thursday, Gano will go first if the Redskins kickoff to start the game, Smith said. If not, it will depend on which kicker finished the first half.By the end of the four exhibitions, Smith said it will be obvious to everyone which kicker has the edge.Its going to be on production, solely, Smith said.Gano would seem to have the advantage entering the preseason. At 25 years old, hes 10 years younger than Rackers. Hes got the stronger leg and is familiar to the coaching staff after spending the previous three seasons in Washington.That said, Gano connected on 75.6 percent of his field goals, which ranked 29th in the NFL. That number, of course, was negatively impacted by five blocked attempts.I met with the coaches and they said there wasnt anything I could do anything about it personally, Gano said of the blocks. You dont want blocks at all. But last year, thats the past.Smith declined to say what exactly went haywire on so many attempts in 2011. He did, however, concede that there was plenty of blame to be spread around, beginning with him.We had a lot of issues, to be honest, Smith said.If Gano is going to retain his job, Smith said he wants to see more consistency and focus.Day in and day out you got to do it, Smith said. Just because we do it for a couple years doesnt mean we have it. As a coach in this league, you get new coaches and they get their first contract and they think they arrived. I dont think they arrived until you get another contract. Its the same with a kicker.As for Gano, he said hes not feeling any additional pressure because he used to fighting for his job in camp.But he also said he likes his chances.Im feeling pretty good, Gano said. Im starting to hit my stride and Im looking forward to Thursday.
When longtime Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo lost his starting job to rookie Dak Prescott, there was general consensus that Prescott won the job fair and square when Romo got injured.
Romo himself said as much. But there are still people around the NFL who feel Dallas didn't do right by their 10-year starter.
As Romo was leaving the field after the Cowboys lost to the Packers in the playoffs, Pepper Burruss, Green Bay's director of sports medicine, approached him. A microphone picked up Burruss saying what sounds like, "You deserve better."
Take a listen.
It's possible Burruss could have meant something else, like Romo deserved better injury luck. Maybe.
Also keep in mind that Romo may have been leaving the field as a Cowboy for the final time of his career. What a note to leave on...
The 36-year-old has said he still wants an opportunity to start in the NFL. That won't happen in Dallas, so it's likely he'll move on to another team this offseason.
According to Adam Schefter on ESPN Radio, the Cowboys may be willing to trade Romo to the team of his choice.
Speculation has linked him to the Broncos, Bears, Jets and Texans.
MORE REDSKINS: Redskins interviewed internal candidate for DC
As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.
No. 10 worst play of 2016
Redskins at Bears Week 16
6:35 left in Q1, Bears ball 3rd and 18 at their own 22, Redskins leading 7-0
Matt Barkley pass deep middle to Deonte Thompson to CHI 40 for 18 yards (Deshazor Everett).
Tandler: This was not an important play in the grand scheme of things. It was early, the Bears didn’t end up scoring on the drive, and the Redskins won easily. What was frustrating about this play was the symbolism of Barkley, a third-string quarterback, completing a third and very long play with a pass to Thompson, who caught all of 22 passes in 16 games. And it was very easy.
More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities
Finlay: The Redskins defense struggled to get off the field on third downs, and nothing illustrated the big picture problem better than Barkley's long completion. That Barkley was laregly awful that game - he threw five interceptions - makes this play stand out that much more. Probably one of the reasons for Joe Barry's departure, third down defense must get better in 2017 if the 'Skins are going to return to the playoffs.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!