Shanahan: Redskins are 'all in'

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Shanahan: Redskins are 'all in'

Since returning from the bye week, there’s been an increased sense of urgency around the Redskins' Ashburn, Va., headquarters, Coach Mike Shanahan said Friday.

And that urgency has translated into more focused efforts in practice, the classroom and, most improtant, on game day.

“There’s definitely a sense of urgency when you know that you cannot stumble,” Shanahan said, 24 hours after his team prevailed 38-31 at Cowboys Stadium. “You got to go out and win each week and it starts with the present game. That mindset has been there. There’s a good sense of urgency that everybody’s got to play their best game, that everybody has got to do what they’re capable of doing, for all 46 guys that are out there playing.”

When the players left Redskins Park for a five-day hiatus following a season-threatening 21-13 loss to the Panthers earlier this month, the team's record had plummeted to 3-6 and a second half run looked unlikely. Since returning, however, they've posted back-to-back victories over the Eagles and Cowboys and vaulted into a second place tie in the NFC East with Dallas. And if the Giants lose at home to the Packers on Sunday, Washington and New York will meet on Dec. 3 with first place in the division on the line.

“I think we’re ‘all in’ as a football team, and that’s given us a chance to play well on Sunday,” Shanahan said. “When your backs are against the wall and there’s no room for error, guys have to step up.”

He added: “That is what’s happened the last couple of weeks; guys have played at a very high level and played for a full 60 minutes. Not saying each [game] was perfect. But you can see guys playing extremely hard and fighting for each other and giving it everything they’ve got. That’s what we have to keep on doing. We have to play at that level. We have to have everybody all in. We know what’s at stake. Nobody can let up and have a bad game.”

The turnaround, Shanahan pointed out, started at the top.

Following the loss to the Panthers on Nov. 4, quarterback Robert Griffin III vowed in the postgame news conference to emerge from the bye a better player. He urged his teammates to do the same.

So far, Griffin has delivered on his promise. In the past two games, Griffin has passed for eight touchdowns and one interception. He’s also starting to be mentioned in conversations about this season's league MVP.

“When he came back from the bye week, he said, ‘Hey, our backs are against the wall. We know what we’ve got to get done and I’m going to be playing my best football,” Shanahan said. “That’s what leaders do. That’s what captains do. They say, ‘Hey, I’m going to play my best football and I expect the guys around me to play their best football.’” 

Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

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Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

It all happened for Jordan Reed in 2015. He mostly stayed healthy - able to start 14 of 16 games - and played every game with the same quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The results broke Redskins records, as Reed hauled in 87 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Reed put up elite numbers for the tight end position, and in early May, the team paid Reed like an elite tight end. He signed a five-year, $46.5 million extension that will run through 2021, numbers that place Reed with the third-highest annual salary in the NFL.

His Redskins teammates noticed. It's common practice around the NFL for players to congratulate a new contract, and then promptly go into razz mode. It's part of the deal with getting a large contract extension, and Reed was no exception.

Asked if he had heard about his new contract during the Redskins OTA sessions this week, Reed smiled and confessed (full video above).

"I fell down yesterday and they were talking junk, ‘We ain't pay you 50 to fall down’ and things like that," Reed said on Wednesday. "They all over me man but it’s all fun."

The "50" in reference would be $50 million, so looks like the Redskins players are rounding up on Reed's deal. Plus, saying 50 is a lot easier than 46.5. More importantly, Reed knows the extra attention is meant in a fun way, and as other players have been asked about Reed's deal, all say the young tight end deserves it all.

"With Jordan Reed, you know he was so talented last year I mean how do you build on a season where you were as successful as he was?" Cousins said. "We would love to be able to develop sustained success where it is not just a one year flash in the pan and I think that is the challenge and message not just to Jordan but a lot of people."

Cousins' statement echoed the voices of many at Redskins Park. This team wants to prove that the success of 2015 was not a fluke, from GM Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden all the way down to the bottom of the roster.

And Reed is no different. On Wednesday Reed went deep on a wheel route, at least 30 or 40 yards downfield, and Cousins threw to him. The ball was slightly out of reach, yet Reed still fully extended and dove for the ball. In May. In OTAs.

"I can’t help it," Reed said when asked if the coaches and front office would want their new highly compensated tight end laying out for a ball in the offseason.

"I see the ball in the air and my instincts take over," he said. "I'm gonna go hard in practice."

Certainly Reed's size and skill were key to his new contract, but that attitude played a large role as well. 

 

 

Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

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Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

Safety David Bruton Jr. had options on the free agent market, but he ultimately chose Washington for one big reason: with the Redskins, he'd get the opportunity to compete for a starting job.

“We definitely have some competition back there, but I am blessed enough to have the first crack at it,” Bruton said this week. “Being in my eighth year, I was definitely looking to be more than just special teams ace and defensive role player. I felt like this was the best opportunity [to start], and I’m happy to be here.“

“I’m here to make this a new home,” he added, “and make my name known here.”

Well, so far, so good.

During Wednesday’s OTA practice, DeAngelo Hall occupied one safety position with the first-team defense and Bruton lined up at the other. The other player in the mix, Duke Ihenacho, worked with the second team.

Coach Jay Gruden hinted that Hall has been penciled in as one starter and that Bruton and Ihenacho are in competition at the other spot. Gruden, though, also made it clear that it’s awfully early in the offseason and that a lot can change.

“I always say that’s the beauty of a pencil—you got an eraser,” Gruden said. “We had to start somewhere.”

Listed at 6 foot 2, 225-pounds, Bruton, who spent the past seven seasons as a backup/special teams standout in Denver, is biggest defensive back on the roster. In 104 games with the Broncos, he made eight starts, including a career-high three last season. Ihenacho, meantime, won the starting job in Washington last offseason but suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the opener. Interestingly, Bruton and Ihenacho were teammates in Denver from 2012-13.   

“Bruton is doing a good job and Duke is in that mention,” Gruden added. “We [also] moved [cornerback] Will Blackmon back to safety; he’s learning, feeling his way through there. [Deshazor] Everett is doing a good job. Geno [Matias] Smith from Alabama, he’s learning it. So we’re going to have some people out there to compete. But right now, as a starting point, Bruton/Nacho are doing fine.”

For now, Bruton's got the first crack at it. But as Gruden said, there’s a lot of offseason left. This, indeed, could be a position to monitor throughout the spring and summer.

Months later, Redskins ILB Perry Riley still battling foot injury

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Months later, Redskins ILB Perry Riley still battling foot injury

One of the more surprising developments from the first week of Redskins OTAs was Perry Riley on the sidelines wearing a walking boot.

The inside linebacker was enjoying one of the best stretches of his career late last season when he hurt his foot. The injury, which occurred in practice, was expected to sideline him for 3-6 weeks following a procedure to insert a pin into the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

Nearly six months later, Riley is still experiencing soreness and discomfort.

He acknowledged this week that he overexerted himself in the lead-up to January’s playoff game and suffered a setback. In all, Riley missed the final five regular season games and the Wild Card loss to the Packers.

Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday that Riley is scheduled to be reexamined by a specialist.

“He has some issues with his foot; a little soreness,” Gruden said. “We’re keeping him in a boot to protect it, and then we’ll consult a doctor and hopefully get him back soon.”

An exact timeframe for Riley has not been determined, but the seventh year veteran indicated to reporters that he intends to be ready for training camp in late July, if not sooner. The Redskins have two more weeks of OTAs and a mandatory veteran minicamp in mid-June.

In the meantime, Will Compton and Mason Foster are working as the first team inside linebackers. The duo finished the 2015 campaign as the starting ‘Mike’ and ‘Mo’ starters, respectively.