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Flashback Friday: Past training camp battles

Flashback Friday: Past training camp battles

There are few battles for starting jobs with the Redskins this year. Just in case you’re yearning for a good, old fashioned August battle for a starting spot, here’s a look back at a few of the more memorable ones from the Redskins’ past:

1972: Billy Kilmer vs. Sonny Jurgensen -- This was the very height of the Sonny vs. Billy debate. Jurgensen, a future Hall of Famer, had suffered a shoulder injury in a preseason game the previous year. In came Kilmer, a veteran journeyman who was acquired in George Allen’s first trade with the team. All he did was lead Washington to postseason play for the first time in 25 years.

As they came to camp in Carlisle in 1972, Allen let the two battle it out. “George tried to create a rivalry at every position,” Kilmer said. Especially, it seemed, at signal caller.

The rivalry was a friendly one. “Sonny and I hit it off right away,” said Kilmer. “We understood that we had a good chance to be on a winning team so instead of being petty about things we decided to help each other.”

Not surprisingly in a city that loves a good leadership controversy, the fans took sides in the issue. Bumper stickers proclaiming that the car’s occupant liked Sonny or Billy were hot items. Unofficial counts around town showed a slim but certain margin in favor of Jurgensen. “I wasn’t surprised that the fans took sides,” said Kilmer. “Sonny is the guy and always will be.”

Both quarterbacks played well during the preseason, so Allen was forced to make his decision based on other factors. The week before the season opener in Minnesota, the coach announced that Kilmer would be the starter as a reward for his performance the previous season. Jurgensen would take over four games into the season and win all three of his starts before his year ended when he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Kilmer came back in and earned Pro Bowl honors as he led the Redskins to Super Bowl VII.

1996: Gus Frerotte vs. Heath Shuler--While Sonny vs. Billy was a Clash of the Titans, Gus vs. Heath had a more mortal feel to it. Coach Norv Turner had declared that the two 1994 draftees would fight it out for the job in Frostburg, Maryland after Shuler, the man Turner handpicked to be his quarterback and the third overall pick, displayed a tendency to be both injury prone and erratic. While Frerotte, a seventh-round pick, didn’t possess Shuler’s upside, he appeared to be quite competent and more dependable.

While the two rivals weren’t enemies, they weren’t quite good buddies either. Frerotte said, "It's competition. On the field, you can't be buddy-buddy.”

Both played well in the early preseason games, but just when it came time for Turner to make his decision, they both stunk up RFK Stadium in a 28-7 loss to Cincinnati. Turner announced that the job was Frerotte’s, based on consistency. The decision essentially ended Shuler’s Redskins career as he got on the field for just one play in 1996 and was cut after the season ended.

1999: Skip Hicks vs. Stephen Davis--When the Redskins decided to release Terry Allen, who had led the team in rushing in each of his four season with the team, the heir apparent was second-year back Skip Hicks. The third-round pick out of UCLA was second to Allen in rushing in 1998 with 433 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Also allowed to compete for the job was Stephen Davis, a fourth-round pick in 1996 who had filled in as a fullback in 1998.

Rarely is the favorite to win the job knocked out of the competition in the early going, but that’s what happened here. After just a few days of practice, Turner was impressed with Davis rare combination of speed and power. Davis started the preseason opener and, essentially, the job was his right then and there. He rushed for 1,405 yards in leading the Redskins to the division title.

Join me for a live blog of Saturday's preseason game. Go here for details.

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Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

When you’re fighting for a playoff spot, it’s not only about what happens to you. It’s also about what happens to the teams you’re competing against for that playoff spot. And one of the Redskins’ main competitors got some very bad news this morning.

The Giants, who are in the No. 5 spot in the NFC, the first wild card spot, got word today that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has had sports hernia surgery. The recovery time is at least four weeks, probably more like six. The Giants’ season is likely to be over by the time six weeks elapse, barring a playoff run without one of their best defensive players.

Pierre-Paul has helped solidify what was a shaky Giants defense last year. He has seven sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He has been heating up down the stretch with 5.5 sacks in his last three games.

His loss is a big blow for the Giants. They are a game ahead of the Buccaneers, who hold the No. 6 spot, and a game and a half ahead of the Redskins, who are currently seventh.

The Redskins play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins have to pick up just one game on the Giants over the next three to have a shot at passing them in the season finale.

The chances of that happening looked pretty good with Washington playing playing three teams with losing records in the Eagles, Panthers, and Bears and the Giants going against division leaders Dallas and Detroit in addition to the Eagles. With the Giants now without Pierre-Paul, the Redskins’ probabilities got tilted in their direction a little bit more.

Just finishing ahead of the Giants wouldn’t guarantee a playoff spot but it would come close. It would mean that the Redskins would have at least nine wins and the Redskins’ tie means that two teams would have to get to 10 wins to knock them out of the playoffs. The Bucs have to win three more games to get to nine wins and the Packers and Vikings would have to run the table.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As the Redskins power run game vanished, so did their prospects for winning the game.

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