Report: Real refs could be back soon

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Report: Real refs could be back soon

Reports are swirling that a deal is close for the National Football League to bring back the regular referees, perhaps as soon as this weekend.

Comcast SportsNet confirmed that regular referees are preparing to vote on a new proposal from the NFL for a collective bargaining agreement with the referee union. If the agreement is approved, referees could be back on the field as early as this weekend.

Contract negotiations were accelerated this week after the fiasco that decided the Monday Night Football game between Green Bay and Seattle. That game was decided on the final play of the game when one referee ruled a touchdown and another ruled an interception of a Hail Mary pass thrown by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

The Monday Night Football play drew the ire of seemingly the entire country, with many players and even President Obama voicing concerns over the officiating in the NFL.

Until an agreement is reached, it is unclear if the Baltimore Ravens will take the field in Thursday night's game against the Cleveland Browns with the real refs on the field are face another game with replacements refs.

Baltimore's last game, against the New England Patriots, ended with much controversy with questionable calls from the replacements refs. The Washington Redskins game against the Cincinnati Bengals ended in similar controversy, with the replacement referees incorrectly deciding the game was over prematurely.

OTAs to-do list: How much work remains at safety?

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OTAs to-do list: How much work remains at safety?

Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin today, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.

Up today …

Safeties to-do list

Tandler: In many areas what needs to be accomplished during OTAs is somewhat subtle, a tweak here and there. But at safety there are two glaringly obvious things that need to be done at safety this spring.

One is to get DeAngelo Hall fully acclimated at free safety. Last year veteran made an in-season change from cornerback, the position he played for his first 11 NFL seasons, to safety. Now he is starting the offseason program at the still somewhat unfamiliar position. It’s no longer an experiment and he needs to master the nuances of safety starting today.

The other item here is to figure out who will start at strong safety and what roles the reserves will play. Duke Ihenacho won the job last year but he lasted only a few snaps into the season before a wrist injury ended his season. David Bruton was mostly a reserve in seven seasons in Denver but he signed here with assurances that he would get to compete for the starting job. And while rookie Su’a Cravens is starting out as an inside linebacker it’s only a few steps back from there to an in-the-box strong safety spot. It will be interesting to watch who gets how much action at the position as they begin to sort it out.

El-Bashir: One of the more scrutinized positions in the coming weeks figures to be the safety spot next to DeAngelo Hall, whom I suspect can be safely penciled in as one starter.

As for everyone else? We’ll get our first look at the pecking order tomorrow, when the Redskins open practice to reporters for the first time this spring.

Here’s what I’ll be looking for:

  • Is there a rotation opposite Hall? Or is someone (David Bruton, Duke Ihenacho or 'other') clearly working as a first-teamer?
  • How is Will Blackmon deployed? Listed as a corner last season, the veteran was signed to a two-year contract extension and is now listed as a safety.
  • Su’a Cravens worked with the inside linebackers during rookie minicamp. But he’s listed as a safety. Does he get some work as a defensive back?
  • And what about special teams standout Deshazor Everett? Like Blackmon, he's also moved from corner to safety. Where, and with whom, does he work?

My sense is that there’s a lot of work to be done at this position. We’ll get our first glimpse of exactly how much work remains tomorrow afternoon.  

OTAs to-do list: Is it Matt Jones' job to lose?

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OTAs to-do list: Is it Matt Jones' job to lose?

Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin today, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.

Up today …

Running backs to-do list

Tandler: The Redskins’ depth chart seems to be missing a running back. The “lead dog” will be Matt Jones but there really isn’t a Plan B there. Maybe seventh-round pick Keith Marshall can contribute but if Jones is injured or ineffective for any significant amount of time—and he experienced stretches of both during his rookie 2015 season—it’s difficult to see Marshall carrying the load.

Perhaps the coaches will give Mack Brown a shot. He bounced on and off of the practice squad last year. The 24-year-old former Florida Gator might get a chance during OTAs to earn some significant snaps during training camp. He’s a long shot but part of OTAs is figuring out which players on the fringe of the roster might be able to make a legitimate push to make the team in July and August.

Still, it really feels like they are waiting for another running back to arrive. There has been plenty of talk about bringing back Pierre Thomas, who contributed during the last four games of last season. However, the 31-year-old veteran remains unsigned. Many have speculated that Arian Foster, released by the Texans, would be a good fit. But he is recovering from a torn Achilles and he can’t yet pass a physical so the speculation remains just that.

The process of identifying Jones’ backup is going to start in OTAs but I get a feeling it will continue into training camp.

El-Bashir: As the roster stands now, the Redskins’ plan for an improved rushing attack appears to revolve around Matt Jones staying healthy and making a huge leap production-wise in his second season.

To me, that seems like a big ask. Jones does boast impressive size for a runner and he possesses loads of talent. But he had a rough rookie season, one marked by injuries (he missed four games), fumbles (five on 169 touches) and inefficiency (league-worst 3.4 yards per carry among qualified rushers).

The good news is Jones should be fully recovered from the toe and hip ailments that sidelined him in '15. And, based on the second half of last season, he appears to be recovering from an acute case of fumble-itis. 

But what’s the backup plan if Jones' anticipated improvement stalls? Oft-injured Chris Thompson, who is recovering from shoulder surgery? Speedy seventh round draft pick Keith Marshall? As Tandler said, it seems like there should be a 'TBD' listed on the running back depth chart entering OTAs.

Over the next month, though, Jones will get the chance to quell any concerns about his ability to shoulder the load. But it can also go the other way. If there's any doubt, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Redskins turn to the free agent market for some veteran insurance.  

Bashaud Breeland whiffs on tee, should not become pro golfer

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Bashaud Breeland whiffs on tee, should not become pro golfer

Bashaud Breeland is truly good at a lot of stuff: Covering NFL receivers, looking fresh at the Preakness and making you think with his tweets are just three examples of things the corner is skilled in. 

But on Monday, a video emerged on Twitter that revealed at least one area No. 26 struggles in: golf. Or, to be more specific, making even the smallest piece of contact with a teed up ball in no less than four swings.

Here's the lowlight, captured by Breeland's fellow defender Junior Galette. For any swing instructors out there, this footage could be considered NSFW due to the extreme absence of fundamentals:

At first, the third-year pro's stance isn't all that discouraging. But a few seconds in, someone (probably Galette) says quietly, "This is, I think, the fourth attempt," and it's at that moment that viewers understand what's about to unfold is going to go horribly wrong for Breeland.  

And it, of course, does, as he whiffs on the drive and then nearly turns an ankle on the tee box marker afterward. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry's heart will skip a beat when he sees that part of the blooper.

Here's Breeland's response to Galette tweeting the video:

Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, it looks like he's going to need more practice than 2002 Allen Iverson to fully fix what's wrong with his game.

MORE REDSKINS: GALETTE ONCE FLOPPED LIKE LEBRON, TOO