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Higher expectations--but high enough?

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Higher expectations--but high enough?

Can the Redskins thrive under the spotlight of higher expectations?

A year ago, the Redskins were coming off of a 5-11 season, their third straight year with a double-digit loss total. Even though they had a new quarterback that everyone knew would be good eventually, the conventional wisdom was that it would take him a while to bring the Redskins back to respectability.

That was the conventional wisdom in Last Vegas, at least. The sports books there set the Redskins over-under for wins at 6.5. That line said that there was at least a 50-50 chance that the Redskins would endure another season with 10 or more losses.

As the team went into the bye week, it looked like those who took the under would be cashing in their betting slips. The Redskins were 3-6 and with a tough slate the rest of the way they appeared to be headed towards another lost season.

As we all know, the Redskins tore off seven straight wins to close out the season and the bettors who had the over are the ones who got paid. The young quarterback, Robert Griffin III, had one of the best seasons any rookie quarterback has ever had. RG3 and a rushing game revitalized by fellow rookie Alfred Morris propelled the Redskins to 10 wins and the NFC East title.

This year, the expectations are somewhat higher, although there doesn’t appear to be any irrational exuberance expressed in the Vegas line. The Atlantis sports book became the first to post their 2013 over-under lines and the Redskins’ number is nine.

I know that some will be offended by this and will point out that the Redskins won 10 games last year so that should be the starting point for figuring the over-under. And that’s fine and you might have a case that if Griffin’s knee is mended he should be better in his second year, the defense should be improved with some additions in the draft and by some player returning from injury and they learned how to win, so the Redskins should be better than they were in 2012.

And that’s a perfectly rational case, but what if Griffin’s knee gives him trouble during the season, if other key players are lost to injury, and the rookies face too steep a learning curve to offer much improvement this year? Will they still be a better team?

The Redskins line of nine wins is quite respectable. Only 10 other teams have higher over-under win totals. Of those 10 teams, all but three won more games than the Redskins did last year. One of those teams, the Ravens, won the Super Bowl. Their line is just half a game better than the Redskins’. The other two are the Steelers, who beat the Redskins in 2012, and the Saints. If you want to quibble about New Orleans being ahead of Washington, you might have a legitimate case.

The top of the NFC East is pretty tightly bunched. The Giants over-under is also nine wins (the same total they had last year) and Dallas is at 8.5. Philadelphia will have to exceed expectations to avoid the division cellar; their line is 6.5.

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On eve of Redskins training camp, Kerrigan describes Galette injury 'shocking' and 'heartbreaking'

On eve of Redskins training camp, Kerrigan describes Galette injury 'shocking' and 'heartbreaking'

Just like fans were excited to see Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Junior Galette team up for the Redskins to rush opposing quarterbacks this fall, the players were excited too. When news broke that Galette would miss all of the 2016 season with a torn Achilles, fans were stunned. Turns out, the players were too.

"It definitely was shocking," Kerrigan said. "I wasn’t expecting to hear it, especially at the timing of it."

Not that there is ever a good time for a serious injury, but Galette missed all of 2015 with a torn Achilles. For more than a year, Galette posted to social media about his recovery and his excitement to get back on the field. At various Redskins training sessions this offseason, Galette could be seen working out, and he always talked about how fired up he was to get back on the field.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GREG HARDY AN OPTION? SHOULD HE BE?

Now, for the second straight year, that won't happen.

"It's just hard because we’ve seen him put in the work to get healthy," Kerrigan said of Galette. "It’s heartbreaking for him, it's heartbreaking for us."

Kerrigan, speaking at a Good Humor event in downtown Washington on Tuesday, explained that he didn't even believe the Galette injury when he first heard it. He said a friend texted him with the news, and Kerrigan thought it was a joke, until he looked around online and saw all of the reports. 

Now without Galette, the 'Skins still report to training camp on Wednesday, and the defense will need to adjust. 

"Collectively, across the front, we gotta take it upon ourselves," Kerrigan said. "We got to be even more productive."

Washington ranked in the middle of the NFL with 38 sacks in 2015. Even without Galette, that number could improve as the defense should be better on the back end with the addition of Josh Norman and Kendall Fuller. Galette's loss will impact the defense's depth, as the talent drop off behind Smith and Kerrigan will be severe. 

"We do have Houston Bates who has some game experience from last year," Kerrigan said. "We all gotta collectively step it up."

As for Galette, Kerrigan said he texted his injured teammate, sending him well wishes as he deals with a second straight season ending injury.

"You wish him emotional strength."

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Ranking the Redskins Part 5 (53-6): Filling the hole left by Galette's injury

Ranking the Redskins Part 5 (53-6): Filling the hole left by Galette's injury

At CSNmidatlantic.com we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offense, defense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2016 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings over the next few weeks.

<<<CLICK HERE FOR THE NEWEST RANKS>>>

Today we’re updating the list with the players we ranked from 6-10. Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—A second-year receiver who is expected to top a record-setting 2015 performance.    

—Two players who will have to produce to make up for a major injury loss. 

—A defender who will be in the spotlight after the addition of a free agent at his position. 

Go here to see our ranking of the 2016 Redskins, players 6-53.

<<<CLICK HERE FOR THE NEWEST RANKS>>>

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Conflicting reports on whether Redskins are considering Greg Hardy

Conflicting reports on whether Redskins are considering Greg Hardy

The Redskins are considering bringing in Greg Hardy as a replacement for the injured Junior Galette, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.

Citing unnamed sources, Werder said that the team's discussions of their options for replacing Galette, who suffered a torn Achilles while training and is out for the season, have included the troubled former Panther and Cowboy. 

Werder also said that cornerback Josh Norman, a teammate of Hardy’s in Carolina, would advocate for bringing him in to help the defense. 

Hardy had a breakout season in 2013 with 15 sacks. But he served a suspension for a domestic abuse incident and when he was with the Cowboys last year he was caught on camera being disruptive on the sideline during games and according to reports he was chronically late for meetings. In an interview with ESPN earlier this year he did not admit that he had done anything wrong. 

Hardy will turn 28 tomorrow and while he is talented he would bring a lot of bad publicity and a media circus along with him. As with many players, the need for quality players must be weighed against the baggage that a player like Hardy carries.

Everyone should be aware that internal discussions don’t mean that a signing is in any way imminent. Stay tuned to see how things play out. 

UPDATE 2:36 p.m.: