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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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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

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.

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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