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Redskins fading in the fourth

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Redskins fading in the fourth

The Redskins have been starting games well but finishing them poorly.

In aggregate they have outscored their opponents in each of the first three quarters of their five games. The Redskins have scored 38 points in the first quarter to 27 for the other team, have a slim 41-40 advantage in the second period and have come out of the locker room and doubled up the other team 34-17 in the third quarter. That is a 113-84 edge in the first 45 minutes of play.

But in the fourth quarter things fall apart. They have been outscored 63-27 in the final 15 minutes of play. The fourth quarter woes are why the Redskins are 2-3 instead of having a better record.

In each game they have played they have been leading or tied going into the fourth quarter and have been outscored in the final 15 minutes.

In New Orleans the Redskins led 30-17 going into the fourth quarter and were outscored 15-10 in the last period.

In St. Louis they were up 28-23 at the end of three quarters and were outscored 8-0 in the fourth.

They were tied 24-24 with the Bengals going into the fourth quarter and were outscored 14-7.

The Redskins led the Bucs 21-13 after three quarters of play and were outscored 9-3 in the fourth quarter.

Last Sunday, the Redskins led 10-7 after 45 minutes and were outscored in the fourth quarter 17-7.

Thats when it really matters, said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. Thats been the issue around here for a long time. We can compete with teams but in the fourth quarter when it comes down to it, making plays, we tend to fade away and the other teams seem to make plays.

Thats across the board and if you want to become a good team in this league you cant allow that to happen.

The fourth-quarter fades continue a trend from last year. In 2011 the Redskins were outscored 126-82 in the final period.

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Redskins rookie Robert Kelley has funny, honest reaction to his first NFL carries

Redskins rookie Robert Kelley has funny, honest reaction to his first NFL carries

It took three games but last Sunday in New York Redskins rookie running back Rob Kelley finally hit the field with the offense. His effectiveness was middling as he ran four times for seven yards, but Kelley showed himself to be capable of backing up Matt Jones as a conventional runner.

The rookie from New Orleans also explained why a few of his runs were cut short.

"I think I was too excited, I kept slipping around or something," Kelley said on Wednesday.

Twice Kelley lost his footing on the Giants Stadium turf, and the slips ruined what could have been opportunities for solid gains. In preseason action Kelley did a good job of identifying holes to run through, and despite the footing issues, that skill showed in New York as well.

"We hadn't been on turf in a long time. Even in pregame, we had a little trouble keeping grounded on the turf," Kelley explained. "I think I saw the holes pretty well, I think I was making the cuts I needed to make, I just got to stay on my feet next time."

Kelley has been active for all three 'Skins games this season but did not record a carry until the third, coincidentally the team's first win. His first game action on offense was quite a jolt for the rookie.

"It was more exciting. Preseason is cool but you go out in a real game it's different," he said. "Once I got out there I thought I was going to be nervous. I wanted to make some plays. I was actually shocked I wasn't kinda nervous, I was more excited than anything."

While Kelley's performance was not the spark responsible for victory, getting carries to a third running back - after Jones and Chris Thompson - shows a true commitment to the run game from Jay Gruden and Sean McVay. That commitment was missing the first two games.

"When Matt Jones get a few more carries I think it's a good sign for me to get some," Kelley said. "I think coach has put together a good game plan for us."

For Jones, he was happy to see Kelley get rush attempts. Just last season, Jones was the rookie hitting the field for the first time.

"It was good to see him get some carries and get downhill," Jones said. The 'Skins starting runner added of Kelley's footing, "He knows he's got to stay on the ground."

Committing to the run for Washington means committing to Jones primarily, yet it could also mean more carries for Kelley. Odds are in his next NFL action he can keep his feet on the ground.

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New Redskins center Sullivan says he'll be ready quickly

New Redskins center Sullivan says he'll be ready quickly

It’s a story that happens all around the NFL every week. Players get injured on Sunday, calls go out to veterans on Monday, they try out and sign on Tuesday. Then the hard work of learning a new team’s system begins, a task that is especially tough when the new player is a center with all of the protection and other calls that have to come from that position. Other than quarterback it’s the toughest transition in the NFL.

But new Redskins center John Sullivan doesn’t seem to be that worried about it.

“It just takes time to get calls down,” said the former Viking. “Essentially, most football’s the same. There are certain changes here and there I’ve played in a few systems so there’s some carry over more from the first system I was in in Minnesota. But it’s just getting Bill [Callahan’s] calls down, Bill’s techniques, all that stuff. The guys are helping me along and Bill is doing a good job so I think I’ll have them pretty quick.”

Sullivan certainly has a lot of experience in football. From 2008-2014 he started 93 of a possible 96 games at center for the Vikings. But he missed all of the 2015 season after having back surgery. He returned to Minnesota this year but he was released on August 30. He says his health hasn’t been an issue going back to the start of offseason work in April.

“At that point, you get through a couple of days not feeling any restrictions and you start to really forget about it,” he said.

Now it’s time for the crash course in Gruden/McVay/Callahan Offense 101.

“I feel like I’m back in training camp, trying to learn an offense, spending a lot of time here at the facility and staying in a hotel room close by,” said Sullivan. “It’s a little bit different but it’s exciting all the same.”

It remains to be seen what role Sullivan will play. With Kory Lichtensteiger out for at least eight weeks the starting center job is vacant. Spencer Long can start there and he may be the long-term answer at the position. But while left guard Shawn Lauvao is sidelined with an ankle injury the logical move is to have Long, who started 13 games at left guard last year, play there. That would open up center for Sullivan.

Stay tuned. For strategic reasons there is no reason for Gruden to announce anything about his starting offensive line in advance of when the offense takes the field for the first time against the Browns. We may not know until then.