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Redskins first half awards

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Redskins first half awards

Here is one blogger’s opinion on the best and worst of the Redskins’ season at the halfway mark.

Offensive MVP—The obvious and only choice is Robert Griffin III. He has been the catalyst for the team’s three wins and he has given them a chance in all but one of their five losses. He has made more memorable plays this year—the 76-yard TD run, the scrambling fourth-down conversion, the 88-yard “Griffining” TD to name a few—than the team has had in the past several years combined.

Defensive MVP—As easy as it is to choose an offensive MVP, it is just as difficult to pick one on a defense that has been a major disappointment. The front seven is not generating a pass rush with any consistency and the coverage has been spotty. And although the rushing defense has been pretty solid that is in large part because teams don’t run against them because it’s so easy to pass on them. Still, Ryan Kerrigan has played well. He’s not piling up a lot of sacks but he has been steady at many aspects of the game and at times, like when he plucked Matt Ryan’s pass out of the air  and rolled in for a touchdown, spectacular.

Special teams MVP—This award is almost as easy as the one for the offense. Special teams have had plenty of issues with blocked and missed kicks and an inability to break out and get a big return. But the coverage has been solid and captain Lorenzo Alexander has been a demon in in that department and the glue that has held the units together.

Surprise development—The emergence of Alfred Morris as not just the team’s leading rusher but as one of the best running backs in the league is something that nobody expected when training camp opened. The sixth-round pick seemed to be on the roster bubble in early August but by the time the season started he was the opening day starter in New Orleans.

Disappointing development—The defense was ranked 13th in the NFL last year and if they just could have duplicated that performance this year the Redskins likely would be in the thick of the playoff hunt. But they are near the bottom of the league overall and on pace to become the first NFL team to allow 5000 yards passing in a season. Nobody every thought they would long for the Redskins’ 2011 defense, or even the 10th-ranked 2009 edition. 

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When it comes to Madden corners, there's Josh Norman, then everyone else

When it comes to Madden corners, there's Josh Norman, then everyone else

What do Chris Harris Jr., Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis have in common? They're all excellent NFL corners — and they all rank behind Josh Norman when it comes to ratings in Madden 17.

The Bronco (93 overall), the Seahawk (92), the Cardinal (91) and the Jet (91) should be proud of the grades handed to them for the next edition of the legendary video game. It's Norman, though, who's at the top of these top-notch defenders, checking in with a skillset that's good enough for a 94 in the eyes of EA Sports.

"Norman is expected to be a lock down corner for the Redskins this season," reads the description underneath Norman's name in a post ranking the elite cornerbacks that was published Thursday. "He is best in zone with his 97 zone coverage rating, but has the ability to match up in man to man situations with 90 speed and 92 man coverage."

These numbers are subject to change during the course of the season, so if No. 24 has a rough outing or two, he could tumble down a few points and give up the crown to someone else. As it stands now, however, Madden thinks he's the preeminent man at his position. 

And that's something Odell Beckham Jr. can't say.

RELATED: WHY DID SCOT MCCLOUGHAN PUNCH WALL?

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Redskins activate Perry Riley from PUP list, LB set for practice

Redskins activate Perry Riley from PUP list, LB set for practice

After opening training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Redskins coach Jay Gruden announced that LB Perry Riley has been activated and will practice on Friday.

Riley went out last December with a foot injury and missed the Redskins run to the NFC East title. A six-year veteran, Riley was drafted by the 'Skins in 2010 and emerged as a starter in 2011. Riley struggled somewhat early in the 2015 season, but his play was improving into the second half of the year.

"I expect him to come on and continue his strides," Gruden said of Riley's improved play. 

Coindence or not, Riley's play improved once Will Compton took over at starting linebacker for Keenan Robinson.

"I think it did," Gruden said of Riley playing better paired with Compton. "Maybe it's just the whole entire defense got better as the season went on."

Gruden said that the defense as a whole was becoming more comfortable with new coordinator Joe Barry, and that should only increase this season. 

Some think with a $5 million cap number - and a potential savings of $4 million if he was released - Riley could be subject to a roster squeeze. But after Compton and Mason Foster, Riley is the only inside linebacker with significant NFL experience on the roster compared to Martrell Spaight, Steven Daniels and Terence Garvin. 

It will be interesting to watch Riley's return from injury, both to see how he looks, and to watch where he fits with the defense. In nine games last season, Riley grabbed two interceptions and 24 tackles.

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Josh Norman using his physicality to help cure Matt Jones of 'fumble-itis'

Josh Norman using his physicality to help cure Matt Jones of 'fumble-itis'

RICHMOND—Josh Norman was brought to the Redskins to help the defense. But he’s trying to solve one of the potentially biggest problems facing the other side of the ball.

In a part-time role last year, running back Matt Jones fumbled the ball five times, losing four of them. This year Jones is projected to be the full-time running back and if he continues to fumble at the same rate Norman and company will be coming onto the field a lot sooner than they planned on many occasions.

Norman has taken it upon himself to try to fix this. When Jones is carrying the ball Norman makes an effort to knock it out of the back’s arms. It’s become a running competition between the two.

“We crack up all the time because [Jones] knows when he comes to that hole I’m looking for that ball,” said Norman. “I’m punching; I’m looking to get it out of there.”

So far, Jones is doing a good job with ball security, something he’s been working on all offseason.

“He’s holding that thing high and tight and I don’t know if I've got him once yet,” said Norman.

Norman said that his goal is to knock the ball out of Jones’ grasp five times during training camp.

“I’m going to be lurking, trust me, I’m going to try and get it,” he said. “And that makes him better because he knows he’s going to have to hold that thing tight.”