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Cavanaugh hints at running back by committee for 2017 Redskins

Cavanaugh hints at running back by committee for 2017 Redskins

Get ready for running back by committee in Washington.

Matt Jones carried the ball almost exclusively for the Redskins early in the 2016 season. He lost his starting job to Rob Kelly, who carried most of the load in the last nine games. Jones appears to be on the way out of Redskins Park after they added Samaje Perine in the fourth round of the draft.

Will the Redskins continue to utilize Kelley as the prime running back with Chris Thompson handling third-down duties? Or will Perine come in to share the load?

RELATED: Redskins practice observations

Redskins offensive coordinator Mat Cavanaugh indicated that they will play it by ear.

“Rob obviously has earned the starting job, and I think really it’s a game-to-game evaluation, an in-game evaluation of how well he’s doing and how winded he is – ‘Does he need a blow?’ said Cavanaugh. “We just feel like we’ve got depth at that position now with a lot of similar-type players: stocky, quick-footed, strong, smart guys that can sub in for each other. I wouldn’t put a pitch count on any of them, but obviously if a guy’s got a hot hand and he’s feeling good and he’s not gassed, we’ll keep him on the field. Ideally, maybe have some third-down reps too.”

That last part means that they could play Kelley or Perrine on third downs. They could also expand Thompson out of his usual third-down role.

“Historically here, Chris has been our third-down back, but there’s no reason why can’t play him on first and second down,” said Cavanaugh. “But just rotating the backs, keeping them fresh, we’ve got confidence in all of them.”

All them with the possible exception of Jones, that is. The third-year back, who was the unquestioned starting running back through the offseason program, training camp, and the first seven games of the regular season last year, has not been present at OTAs. Around the time of the draft there were reports that the Redskins were trying to trade Jones. Whether they can pull off a deal for a player who seems destined to be cut at some point remains to be seen.

MORE REDSKINS: The Reskins will play dearly if the wait to make a deal with Cousins 

Of course, the OTAs are voluntary so no matter what Jones’ status on the roster is he is not required to attend. Next week minicamp comes and attendance is mandatory. Cavanaugh doesn’t know if the threat of a significant fine will be enough to bring Jones in.

“I don’t know, to be honest with you,” said Cavanaugh. “I wasn’t privy to him leaving the building and I’m not privy to if he’s deciding to come back or not. I think management can best answer that.”

Regardless of what Jones ends up doing it seems that Cavanaugh is happy to help sort out roles for Kelley, Perine, and Thompson.

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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Top 5: Redskins players and positions to watch vs. Packers

Top 5: Redskins players and positions to watch vs. Packers

The Redskins stumbled out of the gate in their preseason opener after falling to the Baltimore Ravens 23-3. Washington showed very little offense as they struggled to move the ball for most of the game, while the defense suffered some key injuries.

Kirk Cousins and company look to rebound in their second preseason game as they host the Green Bay Packers this Saturday at 7:30 PM. 

CSN's Julie Donaldson and former NFL GM Charley Casserly give their top five players and positions to keep an eye on in the Redskins second preseason game.

RELATED: FOSTER, BROWN TO START VS. PACKERS, GRUDEN SAYS.

Charley Casserly Top 5:

5. Matt Ioannidis: "I like Ioannidis. I thought he played the best of the rest of the defensive lineman. He's a high motor guy, he gives you effort, he's quick."

4. Deshazor Everett: "I thought he played well the other night. I thought he covered well, I thought he was aggressive against the run, he made good tackles."

3. Outside Linebackers: "Hey Preston Smith, this is your opportunity. This is a big year for him because hey, we drafted a guy. Anytime we draft a guy, the pressure is on."

2. Kirk Cousins: "He's got an advantage here. Green Bay is down, two of their top three corners aren't playing. This passing game should be in sync this week."

1. Offensive Line: "This offensive line did not play last week...you got to come out, dominate the line of scrimmage, control the line of scrimmage, and set the tone for the game."

Julie Donaldson's Top 5:

5. Nico Marley: "He has a lot of heart. He's making a name for himself... this guy has more to show for us than just being Bob's grandson, but I want to see can he do it again..."

4. Deshazor Everett: Cc'd: Casserly's comments

3. Samaje Perine: "There were so many expectations for him, he looked a little bit lost. I'm kinda hoping those are just nerves..."

2. Offensive Line: "If Kirk Cousins is going to have any success, or anybody that goes behind him, if that run game is going to have any success then we need to get that o-line in sync."

1. Colt McCoy: "We are one injury away from Coly McCoy taking over this team."

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Josh Doctson looks good to go, new starters at LB and other practice notes

josh-doctson-josh-norman-camp-ap.jpg
AP

Josh Doctson looks good to go, new starters at LB and other practice notes

Josh Doctson looked like a first-round pick in Richmond, at least, until a hamstring injury knocked him off the Richmond practice fields for a few days. On Thursday, back in Ashburn, Doctson again showed his considerable talents.

Taking the field for 11v11 drills for the first time since he injured his hamstring. Doctson made three catches from QB Kirk Cousins. He showed the same fluidity and smoothness in his routes that he flahes in Richmond. 

Leaving the field, Doctson said he felt good. After practice, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said Doctson "looked good." Gruden added the plan is to see how Doctson looks in warmups before the Packers game Saturday (6:30, CSN) night and then the team will decide if the second year wideout will play or not. 

Other notes and observations:

  • In season, the media gets to watch very little of NFL practices, especially in the time leading up to a game. Since Thursday's practice was still technically a training camp session, reporters got to stay and watch as the Redskins prepared for the Packers by running their scout team offense and defense. Cousins and the starting Redskins offense went up against the faux-Packers squad, complete with Dashaun Phillips dressed in a yellow penny playing the role of Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. It was very interesting to watch, and shows that the Redskins will be better prepared for Green Bay this week than they were for Baltimore last week. 
  • Thursday's practice also went much shorter than many of the recent sessions, another sign that the Redskins were treating the Packers game like a normal week. The team skipped the bulk of individual drills, 7v7 and cut down on special teams work. 
  • Deshazor Everett missed the practice session with a personal issue, per Gruden. The coach added that Everett is "okay."
  • Working in drills near the goal line - against the scout team - Cousins looked dialed in. He fired touchdowns to Vernon Davis and Terrelle Pryor.
  • Kendall Fuller has locked up the nickel cornerback role. It also looks like the four down linemen in nickel will start with Jon Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. There will be plenty of changes and rotations among that group though.
  • Gruden announced after practice that Zach Brown and Mason Foster will start at the linebacker spots vs Green Bay. The team showed that duo in drills, which meant Will Compton got pushed to the second team. When that group was on the field, rookie Montae Nicholson tipped a pass at the goal line. Compton came up with it for the INT. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

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