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Sean Taylor: What could have been

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Sean Taylor: What could have been

Most football fans went to bed on the night of November 26, 2007 thinking that Sean Taylor was going to be OK. There were reports that he had squeezed a hand in response to a question and that after a very difficult first day after having been shot in the leg during a home robbery, things were looking up. Taylor wasn’t out of the woods but he seemed to be on his way.

And then the next morning everyone woke up to the horrifying news that Taylor had died, unable to recover from the loss of blood from the wound to the femoral artery in his leg.

Suddenly, the player who was just beginning to turn potential into performance and had become the best player on the Redskins, the friend and teammate to Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and many others, the prized pupil of Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams, and, most importantly, the doting father to 18-month-old Jackie, was gone.

We don’t know just how good Taylor may have been on the field. He had made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and had done enough in 2007 to earn—truly earn—posthumous honors.

It seems certain that those would have been the first of many trips to Hawaii for Taylor. He was just 25 and the only question was if he would be one of the best ever to play safety for the Redskins or if he would become one of the league’s greatest of all time.

The affects of the loss of Taylor were far reaching and are still felt today. Looking at the on-field aspects of tragedy, the Redskins have never been able to find even a competent safety to take his place. LaRon Landry, who was going to team with Taylor to form a fierce safety combo for years to come, is a natural strong safety who struggled when moved to Taylor’s free safety position. Reed Doughty, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Kareem Moore have tried and have either moved on or, in Doughty’s case, moved into a backup role. Madieu Williams, this year’s free safety, is unlikely to be a long-term solution, either.

While it seems certain that Taylor would have enjoyed a high level of personal success with the Redskins, we don’t know if the team would have been substantially better. But the fans and everyone else associated with the team has to wonder what might have been and reacts to the fact that a punk with a gun deprived us of the chance to find out with a mix of sadness and anger. 

And of course, thoughts of what could have been. Earlier this season Sean's father, Pedro Taylor, addressed the possibility of his son playing on a squad with Robert Griffin III at the helm...

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Paul Kruger released from Browns - Could the former Raven help the Redskins?

Paul Kruger released from Browns - Could the former Raven help the Redskins?

Just one season removed from an 11-sack campaign, the Browns released edge rusher Paul Kruger. Lacking depth at the outside linebacker position after the Junior Galette injury in July, Kruger might make sense in Washington. 

Kruger signed with the Browns in 2013 for a big-money contract (5 years/$40 million) after a successful start to his career with the Ravens. In Baltimore, Kruger rushed the quarterback opposite Terrell Suggs, freeing him up for 15.5 sacks in four years. His breakout season came in 2012, when the Ravens won the Super Bowl and Kruger logged nine sacks.

While he never lived up to the money in Cleveland, Kruger did have a strong year in 2014 when he totaled 11 sacks. Last year, however, his sack total dropped to just 2.5, leaving few surprised by his release from the Browns. 

What happens next for Kruger will be interesting. At 30-years-old, the former second-round pick out of Utah likely still has good football left, and could be available to a team on a one-year, incentive type deal.

Specifically in Washington, GM Scot McCloughan may be interested to inquire about Kruger. Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith are top-form outside linebackers, but after that, the Redskins roster boasts few sure things at the position. Trent Murphy is capable, not spectacular, and the fourth OLB spot could be manned by a player like Houston Bates or Lynden Trail. Even in a diminished role, Kruger can compete with the group behind Kerrigan and Smith.

Some on the Redskins staff hinted while in Richmond that the team would look outside the organization for help on the edge as cuts started to happen around the league. Kruger is just one name - and there will be plenty more - but he's a name that has some intrigue. 

MORE REDSKINS: TIME TO BRING BACK POT ROAST?

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Could Redskins bring back Terrance Knighton to help in the middle?

Could Redskins bring back Terrance Knighton to help in the middle?

When Terrance Knighton signed with the Patriots this offseason, word was the Redskins tried to talk him into staying in Washington up until the last minute. The man affectionately known as "Pot Roast" gave the 'Skins some good play at nose tackle in 2015, and the team and fans liked Knighton. But the big man with 96 career starts in seven years as a pro chose to go home to New England. 

The Redskins, however, may get the chance to bring back Knighton after all.

Knighton has dealt with weight issues throughout his NFL career as well as debilating cluster headaches that forced him to miss games and practice time. In 2015, Knighton played well at times for the Redskins, but was not the high-impact player that he demonstrated with the Broncos in 2014. With the Redskins, Pro Football Focus rated Knighton at +5.7, good, but down significantly from his +18.7 in Denver in 2014.

MORE REDSKINS: WHO WILL MAKE THE 53-MAN ROSTER?

That said, Knighton would likely be a welcome addition for Washington. The team lacks a true nose tackle, and at 6-foot-2 and 300 lbs., Knighton fits the role well. Further, Knighton knows the players - especially his best friend from childhood Chris Baker - the coaches and the scheme. 

Stopping the run cold be a problem for Washington this fall, and while Pot Roast will not change that on his own, he can be a good piece of a defensive line rotation. That assumes, though, that Knighton is in shape and ready to play. Pro Football Focus shows that Knighton has played 36 snaps this preseason, though he did not play New England's last preseason game against the Panthers.

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Redskins trade target Bryan Stork fails physical; Washington to recoup draft pick

Redskins trade target Bryan Stork fails physical; Washington to recoup draft pick

The process of acquiring Bryan Stork has not been easy. After agreeing to a trade with New England for a conditional seventh-round pick, the former Patriots center was unsure if he wanted to be traded to the Redskins. Saturday, Stork relented, and said he looked forward to coming to Washington.

His stay won't last long. Chris Cooley reported the news first.

Stork's failed physical means the Redskins will not get the boost to their interior offensive line the club hoped for when they made the trade for the former Florida State center. Kory Lichtensteiger had a rough game Friday night in a win over the Bills, and while the veteran center likely would have retained his starting spot even with Stork on the team, GM Scot McCloughan preaches competition at every position. Stork's arrival would have brought that. Good news for Washington is that the team will get back their draft pick.

MORE REDSKINS: WHO WILL MAKE THE 53-MAN ROSTER?

For Stork, this could signal the end of the line. With four concussions in two seasons and now a failed physical, it makes sense why the 25-year-old was so seriously contemplating retirement after just two seasons in the league.

As a rookie in 2014, Stork started 11 games and played in a Super Bowl. The 2015 season Stork was limited to just six starts. The trend for 2016 looks like even less.