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.’” 

3 things to know about Redskins second round pick Su'a Cravens

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3 things to know about Redskins second round pick Su'a Cravens

Over the next week, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir is featuring each of the Redskins’ 2016 draft picks and spotlighting three things you need to know about them. Up today…

Name: Su’a Cravens

Drafted: Second round (53rd overall)

School: USC

Position: Linebacker-safety

1—Since declaring for the draft in December, Cravens has been asked, oh, about a thousand times which position he'll play in the NFL. Well, five months later, his role is still probably best described as TBD, according to Redskins GM Scot McCloughan. “The thing that’s really cool about him is the diversity he brings—safety, linebacker, maybe a nickel linebacker, maybe a nickel corner,” McCloughan said Monday at Redskins Park. “We’re always talking about the first room he walks into. Is it the DB’s? Is it linebackers? But that’s a good problem to have, because again, he’s going to be out here making plays for us.” Although McCloughan isn’t ready to commit to a position for the 6-1, 226-pound Cravens just yet, the team has dropped a few hints as to their intentions. He’s listed on the team’s website as a safety and he’s been assigned jersey No. 36, which is typically reserved for defensive backs.

2—Cravens has football in his blood and seemed destined for athletic greatness from an early age. Not only was he Rivals.com’s No. 1 rated safety coming out of Vista Murrieta High (Calif.) and USA Today’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, his family tree features a number of accomplished football players. Cravens counts Miami tight end Jordan Cameron and San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o as cousins; he said both Cameron and Te’o reached out to him during the draft process to offer advice. Meantime, Cravens’ mother is related to former Bengals safety David Fulcher and his older brother, Siaki, was a defensive lineman at Hawaii and Utah. “Probably about a week before the draft, Troy Polamalu [a fellow USC product] reached out and texted me and said, ‘If you need to talk to me about anything, if you get flustered or frustrated, just call me if you need me,’” Cravens said at his introductory press conference. “So I’ve had a pretty good support system.” Pretty good? That’s an understatement.

3—Put on some USC film and one thing jumps out almost immediately: Cravens is ALWAYS around the football. In fact, the only thing more impressive than his instincts and athleticism are his stats. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Cravens totaled 154 tackles, including 32.5 for loss, to go along with 10.5 sacks, five interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Cravens believed his tape was good enough to make him a first round selection. And when that didn’t happen late last Thursday night, he immediately went to the gym to blow off some steam. “I looked at it as, I wasn’t good enough to go on the first day, so let me get into the gym tonight and let me prove that I’m good enough to go in the second day,” Cravens said. “I’m all about work. If I feel like I’m not working hard enough, I’ll get back to it.” If you're a Redskins fan, you've got to love that anecdote.    

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Redskins announce jersey numbers for draftees, free agents

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Redskins announce jersey numbers for draftees, free agents

Now that the 2016 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, the Redskins are plodding away toward the start of training camp, and eventually, the beginning of the 2016 NFL season.

But before that can begin, the players who saw their lifes change for the better in Chicago, Illinois this weekend have to get fitted for new jersey numbers.

RELATED: Where does Cravens fit best on defense?

On Tuesday, the Redskins announced the jersey numbers each rookie and free agent signing will wear, along with the few players who have changed jersey numbers:

— No. 2, QB Nate Sudfeld (Rd6, No. 187)

— No. 18, WR Josh Doctson (Rd1, No. 22)

— No. 20, CB Greg Toler (FA)

— No. 24, CB Josh Norman (FA)

— No. 29, S Duke Ihenacho (Change from No. 24)

— No. 30, S David Bruton Jr. (FA)

— No. 34, DB Kyshoen Jarrett (Change from No. 30)

— No. 36, S Su'a Cravens (Rd2, No. 53)

— No. 38, CB Kendall Fuller (Rd3, No. 84)

— No. 39, RB Keith Marshall (Rd7, No. 242)

— No. 46, LB Willie Jefferson (FA)

— No. 52, LB Terence Garvin (FA)

— No. 53, LB Steven Daniels (Rd7, No. 232)

— No. 60, OL Cody Booth (FA)

— No. 63, NT Jerrell Powe (FA)

— No. 73, DL Ziggy Hood (FA)

— No. 83, TE Marcel Jansen (Change from No. 85)

— No. 85, TE Vernon Davis (FA)

— No. 97, DE Kendal Reyes (FA)

— No. 98, DT Matt Ioannidis (Rd5, No. 152)

McCloughan says he prefers low-mileage running backs

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McCloughan says he prefers low-mileage running backs

When it comes to drafting running backs, Scot McCloughan prefers low-mileage models.

Last year, McCloughan took Matt Jones, who had 297 rushing attempts in three seasons at Florida, in the third round. This year the running back pick was Keith Marshall, a seventh-round pick who carried the ball 253 times in four years as a Georgia Bulldog.

In contrast, Heisman Trophy winning back Derrick Henry had 395 carries in 2015 alone.

Of course, Henry got the ball a lot because he was consistently productive for the Crimson Tide. Injuries kept Marshall from having a bigger role at Georgia and Jones couldn’t break out of a running back by committee arrangement with the Gators.

McCloughan sees the positive in each of his backs’ situations.

“The thing I like about it, and it was the thing with Matt Jones last year, is the amount of carries he’s had,” he said when asked about Marshall’s lack of college production. “He hasn’t been beat up. With running backs, it’s so important to have the health. The more hits you take, the worse off it is. Again, we’ll see how it shakes out.”

McCloughan may just be trying to put some lipstick on a pig here in talking about the Redskins’ still uncertain running back situation. But it’s a fact that heavy college workloads taken on by backs like Henry do drop their draft stocks. So it makes sense that all other things being equal a back who had a light workload prior to entering the draft should be somewhat more valuable.

As McCloughan said, we’ll see how it shakes out.