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Fantasy land: RBs

Fantasy land: RBs

There is always dread in the fantasy football world when it comes to a Mike Shanahan backfield. Clearly 2012 is no exception yet in fairness to the Redskins head coach, the setup is not his doing. Sure, there mightwill be random changes made seemingly on a whim three plays into a game, three games into the season, three-quarters of the way down the road. Right now, we dont even have a viable depth chart not from a fantasy perspective anyway to work with. For those still gearing up for their drafts or are debating future trade or free agent pickups, heres one mans best attempt to decipher the mind field known as the Redskins backfield.Roy Helu The upside option you dont need for now guyLast season the Nebraska rookie outran expectations with a dazzling second half stretch including three straight 100-yard rushing games plus a team-record 14 receptions for 105 yards in another. Helus campaign ended early with injuries and perhaps overuse; his body and playing style speak of a change-of-pace guy, which figures to be his role this season. That is once he recovers from his Achilles tendon woes. The main question is when Helu starts playing again will he return as the starter. The ancillary query is will someone else have emerged as the Bell Cow back by then. Best drafted as a fantasy reserve, as his plummeting average draft position (96) indicates, and by an owner not looking for immediate help.Alfred Morris Fill in the early missing lineup gap and see what happens guyThere was some early love out of OTAs for the Florida Atlantic rookie, but not sure anyone could have imagined the sixth-round pick as a possible if not likely opening game starter. Not an elite talent, but Morris runs with power and a hint of shiftiness. It would be unfair to suggest he has a chance to run away with the job, but if Morris turns in a credible if not stellar performance against the Saints (should he get the starting nod), whos to say he heads back to the bench when the others return. Dont overdraft based on the potential start, but at this moment in time Morris should be the second Redskin back coming off the board and in a double digit round.Tim Hightower His aggressive running style makes him fun to own for as long as it lasts guyNot a bad showing last week from the veteran back recovering from a major knee injury suffered last season. Does that make me trust Hightower going forward? Um, no. If this truly turns into some undecipherable running back by committee, imagining No. 25 being the leader of the pack isnt a stretch, but the role only works if the Redskins dont overuse him. If we start talking about 15-20 touches a game, the wear down factor rises dramatically. Shanahan wants Hightower around for his veteran presence and pass blocking prowess more than his yard gaining ability. Draftable in 12-14 team leagues, but as a flyer. In my opinion, if youre taking a sleeper, go with the younger legs on with whatever team they exist.Evan Royster The former sleeper whos now the guy behind the guy behind that other guy, guyPerhaps the true wildcard in the mix as recent injuries to last years other rookie surprise derailed Roysters rising status as possible starter and fantasy darling. Now he may have been passed by Morris as the Flavor of the Month, though the former Penn State rusher hopes to crack the field in tonights preseason finale against the Bucs. Is he worth drafting? Yes, but in the late round and in a lottery ticket sort of way.Of course, if Royster or Hightower or Morris or Helu stand out against Tampa Bay, then another revision of the RB depth chart is in order. Get used to it.

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Does bigger mean better? Will Matt Jones come back? 3 takeaways from Redskins OTAs

Does bigger mean better? Will Matt Jones come back? 3 takeaways from Redskins OTAs

The Redskins certainly got bigger this offseason. That much was obvious on Wednesday as the team invited media to watch an OTA session. The increased size stood out, but plenty of other things did too. Three takeawys from Tuesday's OTA:

  1. Does bigger mean better? The Redskins receiving group was noticeably bigger, something that happens when the team adds two free agents at least 6-foot-4 in Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick and drafts another 6-foot-3 receiver in Robert Davis. The increased size might help, but it's the play of Pryor that turned heads on Wednesday. With long powerful strides and impressive hands, Pryor looked like a dangerous weapon for Kirk Cousins this fall. Second-year pro Josh Doctson also impressed, catching a long touchdown pass towards the end of the session. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are gone, but if things break right and the duo stay healthy, Pryor and Doctson could form a devastating pair.
  2. Attendance is (not) mandatory - Jordan Reed and Trent Williams did not attend the OTA session. Both are Pro Bowl players that Jay Gruden trusts to be working out on their own, and it's important to point out the workouts are voluntary for players. Third-year running back Matt Jones also missed the OTA session. Gruden did not have much to say about his absence, but he added, "This is a voluntary deal, as we all know, and I can’t force the issue on anybody. So if he’s disgruntled in any way, shape or form, it’s news to me. I imagine like Jordan Reed and Trent Williams, I’m sure Matt is working out and staying in good shape." With the fourth round draft pick of Samaje Perine, the running back position is getting crowded. Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson are roster locks, and Perine seems like he has a very good chance. If the 'Skins keep four runners, Mack Brown has the inside track on that spot. Jones seems to be on the outside looking in, which might be the root cause of his absence. 
  3. Deadlines do deals - The elephant in the room at every turn for the Redskins is the looming contract situation with Kirk Cousins. The QB talked Wednesday, and while he didn't clarify much, it seems clear the franchise and Cousins' representatives are at least staying in touch, which wasn't the case this time last summer. Cousins made one thing obvious: Don't expect a contract until near the July 15th. "Deadlines do deals."

Bonus: Cool Twitter video of the running backs going through drills - including 2016 draft pick Keith Marshall - and some Instragram pics. 

Some #Redskins fans would really like to see this in the fall

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Josh Norman talking with his new safeties Su'a Cravens and DJ Swearinger

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Cousins excited to work with ex-QB Terrelle Pryor

Need to Know: Redskins’ Cousins excited to work with ex-QB Terrelle Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 25, 19 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 144 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 108 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 19
—Training camp starts (7/27) 63
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 77

Quotes and notes from the podium

Here are some quotes from Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden from their post-OTA press conference on Wednesday and my comments on what they said.

Gruden on RB Matt Jones’ absence:

“That’s a good question, something that Matt Jones will have to answer. This is a voluntary deal, as we all know, and I can’t force the issue on anybody. So if he’s disgruntled in any way, shape or form, it’s news to me.”

Tandler's take: A year ago Jones was the unquestioned No. 1 running back. After fumbling and then being reluctant to play special teams when the regular season started, he was glued to the bench. The workouts are voluntary and it will be interesting to see if Jones shows up for mandatory minicamp next month if he’s still on the roster. It appears that he does not want to fight to get his job back from Rob Kelley and rookie Samaje Perine. That speaks for itself.

Cousins on adjusting to new receivers:

“Obviously there is a little bit of an adjustment, but we spread the ball around so much. Chris Thompson catches quite a few balls, even Rob Kelley gets involved, we get the tight ends involved. I remember two years ago we lost DeSean [Jackson] for half the season. Derek Carrier played a bigger role when Jordan Reed was out. So you kind of expect a revolving door on offense at a lot of the skill positions and you just start to run plays, and regardless who is out there, you just go where your reads take you.”

Tandler's take: This is a good mindset on the part of Cousins. The Redskins lost two 1000-yard receivers, Pierre Garçon and Josh Doctson, to free agency. Cousins barely practiced with Josh Doctson last year, Terrelle Pryor and Brain Quick signed as free agents, and Robert Davis was a sixth-round pick. These players likely will account for well over 50 percent of Cousins’ targets to wide receivers. But they will not get a sympathy card from the rest of the league. Change happens, both in between seasons and, as Cousins points out, during seasons. Adjustments need to be made on the fly.

Gruden on the NFL shortening overtime to 10 minutes:

“Who cares? [Laughter]”

On changes to the celebration rules:

“You know what, whatever rules they send down, we just try to coach them up. The celebration thing, if it is fun for the fans and the fans really want it, this is a fan league and that’s great just as long as it doesn’t become so much about the player as it is about the team.”

Tandler's take: I think that if most coaches were being honest they would answer these questions just like Gruden did. Overtime is an infrequent occurrence and how to handle the clock on OT probably will not enter most coaches’ thinking before the clock hits 0:00 in a tie game. And as long as the celebration rules are clear and they can teach them to the players I doubt many coaches care if the ball is used as a prop or if players can go to the ground.

Cousins on playing with Pryor, who was a college and NFL quarterback prior to converting to receiver last year:

“I love that you asked that question because it’s even caught me by surprise. I worked with a receiver, Keith Nichol, in college who was a former quarterback, but Terrelle having been a college quarterback and a pro quarterback takes it to even another level. He’s going to hold me accountable because he knows where the ball should go. If it’s Cover 2 and he on Cover 2, if the read is over here, ‘I played quarterback, I know that.’”

Tandler's take: This is an interesting dynamic at work here. Not many quarterbacks have former NFL quarterbacks as their No. 1 receivers. They will be able to communicate on another level compared to the usual QB-WR dynamic. You have to think that it will help Cousins making adjustments in games, with Pryor, who has the eyes of a quarterback, running downfield on every play. Although Pryor is not an accomplished NFL quarterback he could be a big asset as Cousins looks to take his next steps as an NFL quarterback.

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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