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A Redskins-centric look around the NFL, Week 2

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A Redskins-centric look around the NFL, Week 2

Will Carson Wentz continue his march to Canton? Has the Giants' defense improved enough to hold Drew Brees to, say, five touchdown passes this time around? Here is your Redskins-centric look around the NFL as Week 2 approaches.

—The Saints travel to play the Giants at 1:00. Last year in New Orleans the Giants-Saints game ended up being one of the highest scoring affairs in NFL history. Eli Manning threw for six touchdowns but Drew Brees threw for seven. The Saints won 52-49 on a 50-yard Kai Forbath field goal as time expired. That game was in a dome and Brees’ career passer rating is 12 points lower outdoors. We’ll see if that and the supposedly improved Giants defense makes the difference in this one. The Giants are 4.5-point favorites to take sole possession of the NFC East lead, pending the Monday night result.

—That Monday night game has the Eagles visiting the Bears. Hall of Fame quarterback Carson Wentz is certain to lead his—oh, wait, he’s only played one game? Against the Browns, one of the worst teams in football? Yeah, let’s tap the brakes on that hype train just a little bit. But the Bears do have a questionable secondary so perhaps Wentz can look good again. The big question will be if the vaunted Eagles defense can get it done against a team that has considerably more firepower than the Browns’ attack. The home team is favored by three.

—Looking ahead, the Redskins go to New Jersey next Sunday to take on the Giants while the Eagles host the Steelers. If the Redskins can win tomorrow their game against New York could be for at least a share of first place in the division.

—Over in the AFC, the Redskins’ Week 4 and Week 5 opponents face off as the Browns host the Ravens. Josh McCown takes over at quarterback in Cleveland for Robert Griffin III. Griffin’s quest for redemption is on hold for at least a couple of months as he recovers from a shoulder injury. The Ravens won an old-fashioned defensive battle at home against the Bills last week. We probably won’t know if the Ravens have bounced back from last year’s ugly 5-11 season after this game. But in between now and October 9, when they host the Redskins, they face a couple of sterner tests. Next week they got to Jacksonville to play the up and coming Jaguars and then they host the Raiders, who also are a team on the rise.

—Before the season even started there was talk of a disconnect between Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan, the Atlanta offensive coordinator. "I think a lot was made about a little," said Ryan before the team opened the season with a 31-24 loss to the Bucs. Shanahan goes into his second season with the Falcons on less than solid ground. Ryan seemed to regress last year as the Falcons started 5-0 but faded to a 3-8 finish. They start a brutal stretch of four road games in five weeks with trips to Oakland, New Orleans, Denver, and Seattle. Their long home game is against the Panthers. With an 0-fer start staring them in the face the Falcons coaches are all on notice, especially Shanahan.

—Tomorrow I like three road underdogs. I’ll go with the Saints +4.5 over the Giants, the Packers +2.5 at the Vikings, and the Colts +6 over the Broncos.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.