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After nearly giving up, Redskins rookie Holsey looking to make an impact

After nearly giving up, Redskins rookie Holsey looking to make an impact

Josh Holsey is happy to be where he is.

He almost didn’t make it.

The Redskins’ seventh-round cornerback was at the team’s rookie minicamp last weekend, getting praise from Jay Gruden for breaking up a pass during drills on Saturday, soaking up the atmosphere in an NFL team facility and trying to learn as much as he could.

He almost gave up the game before he ever had a chance to experience all that as injuries nearly derailed his career. In September of 2013 he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee while at Auburn. He worked his way back onto the field only to suffer a second ACL tear to the same knee in the second game of the 2015 season.

“I told myself I wasn’t going to play football any more after the second time,” he told reporters last Saturday. “I wanted to be able to run around with my kids, I was looking towards the future, not the present.”

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

But friends, family, and one of his coaches at Auburn persuaded him to reconsider. He decided that he didn’t want to live with the regret that might come with leaving football behind. And he dove into his rehab head first.

“Once I told myself I was going to come back, I was going to play, I was in rehab three times a day, I didn’t go on no spring break, did no partying, it was all rehab and focusing on getting my leg back strong,” said Holsey. “Once camp came around and the season rolled around I was ready to go.”

He played well in his last year at Auburn. Opponents targeted his coverage just 50 times and he defensed 10 passes and intercepted three. But he did not get a combine invitation and many analysts believed he would go undrafted.

The Redskins saw something in him and took him with the 235th overall pick. Jay Gruden congratulated him after he broke up a pass during practice and had some praise for him afterwards.

MORE REDSKINS: PROJECTING THE 53-MAN ROSTER — DEFENSE

“Watching him move around, it doesn’t look like he was hurt at all,” said Gruden. “He’s really quick in and out of breaks. He’s a competitor, you can see that. He likes to talk a little bit, as do I, so it’s a good match. We have a lot of fun with him. I think he’s going to be a good candidate for this football team. I know he ran around well in special teams drills, so we’ll see how it goes, but I was impressed with Holsey.”

Holsey did line up at outside corner some during rookie camp but he doesn’t expect to be there when OTAs start next week.  

“I know when the older guys get here I’ll be more focused on inside because there’s a lot of guys outside,” he said. “But I’m going to know everything just in case I need it.”

There are a lot of guys both inside and outside. The roster is loaded with experienced cornerbacks. Josh Noman and Bashaud Breeland are set as the starters. Kendall Fuller was a third-round pick a year ago and they added another third-round corner this year in Fabian Moreau. Quinton Dunbar now has two years under his belt after he converted from wide receiver and the coaches like his progress. Last year Dashaun Phillips was on the nickel corner for a few games and he will be back to compete for a spot.

For his part, Holsey embraces the competition.

“If there’s no competition it’s no fun,” he said.

“You’ve got to come out here and compete. You’ve got to put your best foot forward every day.”

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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Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings? 

Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit. 

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.

Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.  

Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.

That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed. 

Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS

2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:

Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans

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Redskins 2017 OTAs to-do list: It's time to find a nose tackle

Redskins 2017 OTAs to-do list: It's time to find a nose tackle

Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.

Up today …

Nose tackle

Finlay: There's a lot to do on the Redskins defensive line, and it starts in the middle. Expect free agent addition Stacy McGee to have a big opportunity to take over the nose tackle job. McGee ranked as a +5.5 run defender last season as rated by Pro Football Focus, and at 6-foot-3 and 308 lbs., he has the size to man the middle. McGee has plenty of talent, health has been his hiccup. He has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons, and in 2016, he played only nine games.

Beyond McGee, the Redskins have some lottery tickets. Practice squad players A.J. Francis and Joey Mbu both have the size to play nose, but neither have the experience. Could Francis or Mbu emerge for significant snaps with the Washington defense? Sure, but it would be unexpected. 

A bigger lottery ticket remains. Phil Taylor, a former first-round pick in 2012, has shown serious talent at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-3 and 337 lbs., Taylor certainly has the size for the spot. At the same time, Taylor hasn't played an NFL game since 2014, losing both 2015 and 2016 to injury. Counting on Taylor would be short-sighted, but if he can remain healthy, there could be big value.

According to Jay Gruden, the most important piece of the nose tackle puzzle will come from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Gruden said he expects Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle and improve the Redskins D-line. It's a tall order, but Tomsula has an impressive track record working in the trenches. 

Tandler: The organization’s refusal to get a legitimate nose tackle either in free agency or in the draft will lead to them again spend the spring and summer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

That’s what they did last year with Ziggy Hood. He took a lot of snaps at nose tackle and he simply wasn’t a fit for the job. It wasn’t his fault that the Redskins allowed a league-worst 5.0 yards per rushing attempt on first down; he’s an end and he was much more effective there.

Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, also took some snaps at nose, with similar results. At 6-3, 308, he just doesn’t have the size to be effective.

The worst part of it here is that they really can’t get too far in identifying the 2017 nose tackle. In the spring with no pads and no contact allowed they really can’t do much besides work on technique and learn assignments. Tomsula’s effort to “make” a nose tackle won’t really get going until they get to Richmond in late August.

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