Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.
—Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00
—Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23
Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out: G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report
Around Redskins Park
—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.
—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”
—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.
—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”
—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).
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In case you missed it
- Jordan Reed 'confident' he will play Sunday vs Eagles
- NFL Power Rankings: Looking for real contenders
- Gruden on free agents Jackson, Garcon: That time will come
- Three Redskins return to practice but question marks remain
- Are the Eagles in disarray after coach questions effort?
- Cousins: Good performances against Eagles mean nothing
- 5 under pressure vs. the Eagles
Here are five plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 92-85 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at the Verizon Center that are worth revisiting...
1. Bradley Beal threw down a huge two-handed slam in the first quarter that was set up by John Wall. Wall drove to his left and found Beal in the corner for a would-be three-point attempt, but Beal had other ideas and drove baseline to set up the dunk:
2. Wall is established as one of the best athletes in the NBA, especially at the point guard position. That was demonstrated well by this putback shot in the first quarter:
3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had another strong night off the bench. He brought energy on both sides of the floor, as evidenced by this steal and fastbreak layup in the fourth quarter:
4. The Wizards sealed the victory with hustle plays, including this block of Will Barton by Marcin Gortat. Barton tried to take it to the rim after a steal, but Gortat sent him packing:
5. Then there was this dive by Beal to corral a loose ball, a play that helped put the game on ice: