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The Redskins RB curse

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The Redskins RB curse

Alfred Morris is the early favorite to be the Redskins leading rusher but he might not want to be. In recent years the status of being the Redskins top ground gainer has rivaled the Sports Illustrated or Madden covers in terms of being bad luck. The news that Roy Helu Jr., who led the team with 640 yards on the ground in 2011, has been placed on the injured reserve list means that the Redskins will have a new leading rusher for the fourth year in a row.Clinton Portis led the team in rushing for three straight seasons, from 2007 through 2009.In 2010 Portis had a groin injury that limited him to five games. Ryan Torain, a Mike Shanahan reclamation project from Denver, ran for 742 yards to pace the Redskins running attack.But Torain fell out of favor with the coaching staff due to his inability to stay healthy. That prompted them to trade for Tim Hightower just after the 2011 lockout ended. Last year Torain played in nine games, starting four, and rushed for 200 yards on 59 carries. He was released shortly before the end of the season.Even leading the team in rushing for even a partial season has proven to be bad luck. Last year, Hightower had a team-best 321 yards on the ground when he suffered a torn ACL in the sixth game of the season. That opened the door for Helu to take the team rushing title.For most of their history the Redskins have had pretty good stability at running back. Only once before have the Redskins had four different leading rushers in four years. From 1992-1995 the season leaders were Earnest Byner, Reggie Brooks, Ricky Ervins, and Terry Allen.

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Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

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DeSean Jackson throws out first pitch at Sunday's Nationals game

DeSean Jackson throws out first pitch at Sunday's Nationals game

You know, if this whole football thing doesn't work out for DeSean Jackson, maybe he could give baseball a shot.

The Redskins wide receiver was on hand Sunday at Nationals Park to throw out the first pitch and did a pretty good job.

Photo credit @byersjackson gas that 1st pitch ⚾️💨💨

A video posted by Desean Jackson (@0ne0fone) on

Jackson throws it from the mound and gets it to home plate, though just a bit outside. The throw was certainly good enough to keep Jackson off the list of other professional athletes with horrible first pitches (see John Wall).

RELATED: DON'T FORGET ABOUT NILES PAUL

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Redskins have many options at tight end, but don't count out Niles Paul

Redskins have many options at tight end, but don't count out Niles Paul

The Redskins are loaded at tight end - Jordan Reed is the emerging star and Vernon Davis the veteran with a stellar track record. But don't forget about Niles Paul. Lost last season to a broken ankle, Paul looked strong throughout Washington's offseason work, and with the team heading to Richmond this week to begin training camp, the former Nebraska receiver has been clear he plans to compete for playing time despite his loaded position group. 

"If you’re not out there competing to be the No. 1, I don’t know why you’re in the league," Paul said on ESPN980 earlier this summer.

Paul's mindset is admirable, but Reed is locked in as the No. 1 tight end. There's no debate there. And GM Scot McCloughan did not bring Vernon Davis to Washington without plans of playing him. 

But here's the thing with Paul - he can be very good.

In the first four games of the 2014 season, Paul caught 21 balls for 313 yards and a touchdown. He was averaging nearly 80 yards receiving per game in that stretch, the best of his career. It's no surprise that Paul put up those numbers when Reed was out, as he was injured Week 1 and did not suit back up until Week 6 of that season. 

RELATED: VERNON DAVIS PLANS TO COMPETE FOR TOP SPOT 

Paul has proved himself a strong backup to Reed, and in Reed's three-year career, he has missed 14 games. Last year Reed stayed mostly healthy - he missed two games - but it would hardly be a surprise if the Redskins have to go one or more games without their new $50 million tight end. Davis will be expected to step up should that happen, but the team might lean on Paul more in that situation, in addition to a major role on special teams as well. There were also a few snaps this summer where Paul worked as a fullback - a role the tight end might have to take on with the departure of Darrel Young. 

Jay Gruden acknowledged Paul's hard work during minicamp.

"He’s done an unbelievable job in rehab to get himself to this point," Gruden said. "We didn’t expect him back until training camp."

A 5th-round pick in 2011, Paul has already surpassed expectations with a five-year NFL career. That he outpaced his rehab schedule should not come as a shock.

Should he significantly contribute this fall, even considering Reed and Davis will be the first and second targets at tight end respectively, would not be a surprise either.