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Royster changes number, hopes to start Sunday

Royster changes number, hopes to start Sunday

Evan Royster missed the Redskins third exhibition game because of swelling in his right knee. A week later, he was pulled in the first half of the teams preseason finale after experiencing numbness in his arms.

On Monday, however, Royster participated fully in practice and said he hopes to be tapped by Coach Mike Shanahan as the starting tailback for the regular season opener in New Orleans five days from now.

Royster is listed ahead of Roy Helu Jr. and Alfred Morris on the teams unofficial depth chart.

Everything is good, Royster said of the ailments. They dont even make me go in the training room anymore. Everything is cleared up.

Royster described the neck injury as scary but ultimately minor in nature.

It was a little weird, he said. I was pass-blocking and somebody jumped and landed on top of my head. I felt numbness and tingling go down both my arms. The Redskins training staff told me, Youre done. Dont even risk it.

Nothing ever came of it, he added. Im fine.

Now, he just hopes his number his new one, that is gets called when the starters are announced Sunday at the Superdome. Royster ditched No. 35 for No. 22, the jersey number he wore at Penn State. (No. 22 was vacated by cornerback Kevin Barnes when he was traded to Detroit last week.)

I just didnt like 35, the 24-year-old Fairfax native explained. I told them if a number in the 20s opens up, pencil me in. It just so happens this is the number I wore in college.

Royster said Shanahan hasnt told the running backs which of them will get the nod against the Saints.

Sunday, Royter chuckled when asked when he expects to find out. I have no idea. Its hard to tell. Im just practicing like Im going to start.

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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.

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Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Is it crazy to give a quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns last season the same MVP odds as a guy who went 0-3 in three starts and tossed just four scores in 2015?

According to the sportsbook Bovada.lv, no, it's not crazy at all. So that's why, when looking at their opening odds for the 2016/17 NFL MVP, you'll find Kirk Cousins right next to Mark Sanchez, with both signal callers listed at a long 150/1.

Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, David Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Le'Veon Bell and Sam Bradford also check in at 150/1. Some of those names, like Jeffrey and Bell, should makes Redskins fans feel good, since they're both premier players at their position. But others, such as Sanchez and Bradford? Yeah, not so much.

The top five guys most likely to win the award are Aaron Rodgers (4/1), Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1) and Tom Brady (9/1). Meanwhile, if you squint hard enough, you can see Robert Griffin III near the bottom of the list at 250/1.

Not that this reminder is necessary, but here's a reminder anyway: Anything can happen in this league, so these rankings are not the be-all and end-all. Last year, for instance, Newton had 50/1 odds of being named MVP, and then he went out and did it anyway.

So, with that in mind, while Cousins is no favorite, perhaps his loaded arsenal of targets can help him claim the valuable piece of hardware. The NFL is a wild place, after all — but still probably not wild enough for Sanchez to rise to the top of the sport, which is why him landing next to Cousins hurts more than a little bit.

RELATED: COLIN COWHERD TROLLS KIRK COUSINS IN LATEST RANT