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Kicking drags down special teams grade

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Kicking drags down special teams grade

By Tarik El-Bashir
CSNwashington.comSpecial teamsGrade vs. Buccaneers: CComment: Its not really fair to punish an entire unit because of one players struggles. But its also impossible to give the special teams any grade better than adequate after Sundays near miss in Tampa.As it turned out, of coruse, Billy Cundiff was the hero after connecting from 41 yards out with seven seconds remaining, lifting the Redskins to a 24-22 victory. But the veteran also came oh-so close to being the goat after missing attempts from 41, 57 and 31 yards out.Cundiff accepted the blame for the first three misses, calling the chip shot he yanked wide in the fourth quarter a mental error. But he also mentioned that the Redskins field goal unit has yet to completely gel when it comes to timing, which is concerning given that Sundays game was the third since long snapper Justin Snow replaced the injured Nick Sundberg.Theres a big timing aspect, Cundiff said after the game. Justin is snapping the ball and Sav Rocca is holding the ball well. Its up to me to get into rhythm with those two guys. Those guys have been around a long time, and they are doing their job great. Its matter of me getting on their page and thats a tough thing to do.He added: There are a lot of things involved in there. Were still trying to gel and mesh.Overall, Cundiff ranks 30thin field goal accuracy, making 6 of his 10 attempts, which includes misses from 62 and 57 yards out.Coach Mike Shanahan said on Monday that Cundiff the team wont hold any kicking tryouts this week. But you cant imagine hell stand pat again if Cundiff struggles against the Falcons on Sunday.

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Josh Norman has had enough talking about Odell Beckham (VIDEO)

Josh Norman has had enough talking about Odell Beckham (VIDEO)

RICHMOND — Odell Beckham's apparent feud with Josh Norman seems to have bored the Redskins cornerback.

Asked Friday about the spat, Norman looked down at the podium and played with a rubber band. The corner explained he doesn't want to speak about Beckham's comments, and hardly thinks about it.

That said, Norman allowed it was strange that Beckham claimed it was the Giants receiver that made the Skins corner famous.

"I guess when a guy talks about you that much you’re doing something right," Norman said.

Throughout his media session, Norman seemed engaged with reporters and interested in answering questions. That changed, however, for the Beckham question.

"It means nothing to me. He’s talking about me, but I’m not talking about him."

Check out the full video above.

RELATED: NORMAN VS. BECKHAM FEUD CONTINUES TO INTENSIFY

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DeSean Jackson on 2016 Redskins: Nobody believes in us. We don't really care

DeSean Jackson on 2016 Redskins: Nobody believes in us. We don't really care

RICHMOND - DeSean Jackson streaked down the right sideline, Josh Norman running with him in close step. Then, suddenly, Jackson planted his feet, cut in toward the hashmarks and veered away from the Redskins new $75 million cornerback. Within seconds, Kirk Cousins fired a pass to a location that the speed receiver grabbed out of the air. It was offensive precision.

Sure, that was only a training camp drill in July, but it also served as a reminder to how dangerous Jackson can be. With arguably the NFL's best corner from 2015 covering him, D-Jax showed his unique blend of vertical speed and lateral quickness. And though he wouldn't say it, Jackson has a track record of strong performances against the NFL's best secondaries, which could mean many more spirited practice matchups against Norman.

"We're here to get better and make each other better," Jackson said Thursday of the drills against Norman. "It's always a great addition to have a guy like him."

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During the 1-on-1 drills, Jackson and Norman talked back and forth, and the wideout explained that was "a little bit of fun, talking, kind of communicating, going back and forth."

Bringing in Norman could help a Redskins defense that struggled at times last season. Depending on the metric, Washington's defense ranked as mediocre (17th in points allowed) or bad (28th in yards allowed). An improved defense, to go along with an offense that looked explosive late in the 2015 season, could mean a much improved Washington squad.

"Pushing for another year to hopefully redeem the [2015] NFC East championship. We have a lot of work to do," Jackson said. "We got a lot of good stuff started, we just got to continue to build."

Building for Jackson could mean better health, after a 2015 season where he started just nine games. Remember Jackson injured himself in training camp last year in a bizarre incident where he hit a blocking sled before a more severe hamstring injury Week 1. It's also worth noting that Jackson enters 2016 in the final year of his Redskins contract.

"You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you get," he said. "That's regardless of your last year or your first year."

Asked what the team can accomplish this season, Jackson explained that while last year was a good start, it was far from any ultimate goals.

"We got to the playoffs and lost the first game. No one is really happy about that," Jackson said. "We feel like we have a lot to prove still. Nobody believes in us, we don’t really care. We believe in ourselves, we're the ones putting in the work."

 

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Redskins' Smith ready to step up in wake of Galette injury

Redskins' Smith ready to step up in wake of Galette injury

RICHMOND — Last year when Junior Galette went out for the season with an Achilles injury, Preston Smith, then a rookie, felt the pressure on him turn up just a little bit.

He knew that he would be relied on more but he was still a backup behind Trent Murphy. That was the same role that he had played all offseason; the Redskins had no idea that they were going to land Galette until they brought him in shortly after the start of training camp.

This year, Murphy was moved to the defensive line and Smith and Galette were going to mix and match in different packages to provide the maximum effectiveness on the pass rush. But now Smith is the unquestioned lead dog at right outside linebacker.

A year ago he may not have been prepared to take on the added responsibility. Earlier this year, defensive coordinator Joe Barry said that Smith was “young and immature”. He didn’t know how to prepare to be an NFL starter.

This prompted Barry to call the rookie in for some very blunt words. “You won’t last three years in his league if you continue to prepare and if you act the way you act,” Barry recalled telling the rookie.

It took a few talks but things clicked. He registered six sacks in the last four games including one for a safety in the playoff game against the Packers. “I think the light has come on,” said Barry. He has so much natural God-given ability. just size and length alone, that when he understands, if he plays a certain way and prepares a certain way every single day, he’s got the potential to be really special.”

The light will need to remain on this year. With Galette out after they had counted on him all offseason the pressure falls on Smith to get the job done. He thinks he’s ready.

“I've been working all offseason to start as strong as I finished this past season,” Smith said after practice on Thursday. “I've just been preparing for moments to step in there and show the team what I have.”

He thinks he is much more prepared to be then man at his position than he would have been a year ago.

“I feel like I'm 10 times more ready,” said Smith. “My body feels a whole lot greater than I did last year.”

It’s hard to figure just what to expect from Smith this year. In the first 13 games last year he had three sacks. Then he had his explosion late in the season. Continuing on that December-January pace projects to 24 sacks, which would break the single-season NFL record. He is probably not going to do that, so we can look for something in between his early-season pace and his torrid finish to the season. Ten sacks is the low end of the expectations, anything in the vicinity of 15 would quality as a pleasant surprise.