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Shanahan clarifies comments

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Shanahan clarifies comments

A day after stirring controversy, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan forcefully refuted that he thrown in the towel on 2013 season while acknowledging that he could have chosen his words more carefully in the aftermath of Sunday’s crushing loss to the Panthers.

“From my perspective – I’m not saying I did a great job explaining it – but when you’re talking about five games [remaining] in the NFC East and two in the AFC, and you’re starting an NFC East tour, to suggest that we play young players and the season was over is completely ludicrous,” Shanahan said during his Monday news conference. 

A few minutes after the Redskins dropped a 21-13 decision to the Panthers – a game Shanahan called a “must-win” six days earlier – the coach raised eyebrows at FedEx Field.

“When you lose a game like that, now you’re playing to see who is going to be on your football team for years go come,” Shanahan said following the game. “Now, we have a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at. Obviously, we’re not out of it statistically. [But] now we find out what kind of character we have and how guys keep on fighting throughout the rest of the season.”

On Monday, Shanahan said that the evaluation to which he referred would occur during the bye week, not over the course of the remainder of the season.

“That’s what will be done during the bye week,” he said. “We will evaluate our coaches, our players, our schemes over the next four or five days. We have a chance to still do something special. But obviously every game is like a playoff game with not much margin for error.”

Shanahan also said he will seek to clarify his comments with his players Tuesday before the team takes five days off.

Pressed about whether he was attempting to clarify or backtrack, Shanahan grew agitated with the line of questioning.

“I would never say we will play younger players,” Shanahan continued. “I’ve never said that since I’ve been here. We’re always going to play the people who give us the best chance to win. That’s never wavered.”

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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.”