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For starters, first team offense will play

For starters, first team offense will play

As you probably have read, Jim Zorn has decided to play the offensive starters for a series or two tonight in the Washington Redskins' preseason finale.

The players, by all reports, are all in favor of getting out there to play the kinks out of their game, even if they will be facing the Jags' second-team defense. Even Clinton Portis, who regards preseason game with great distain, showed a willingness to go out there (although not a great degree of enthusiasm.

"Being that I have to play, and it's not my choice," Portis said, "I can't do nothing but be excited about it."

Zorn's has created a minor stir out there. Mosley on the ESPN blog thinks it's a major mistake, but for the wrong reason. He thinks that Zorn is playing his first team for around a dozen plays in an effort to win the game. Of course, that's ridiculous. Zorn is playing the starters because they stunk up Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte last Saturday and what was supposed to be their final tuneup turned out to be a confidence-killing cluster, uh, bomb.

I'm not quite sure where the "tradition" of having your team's final tuneup come two weeks before the first game originated. It really doesn't make any sense when you think about it. Why get the machine running just right facing live action and then shut it down for two weeks?

In any case, those guys need to get back out there and run something resembling an NFL offense. Yes, there is a small risk of sustaining an injury to a starter during those 12 plays, but it's small enough to make it worth the risk.

I like the fact that Zorn doesn't feel bound by this "tradition".

A few other notes about tonight's game:

  • Cornerback Byron Westbrook has been a longshot to make the team all along. The odds against him are now even longer. He sat at my table at the Redskins Welcome Home Luncheon yesterday and he told me that he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Panthers and that he's unlikely to play against Jacksonville.
  • With the release of Matt Sinclair, the chances of linebacker Alfred Fincher making the team as a reserve linebacker increased greatly. However, he'll still have to prove himself tonight. The Skins could scan the waiver wire and pick up a veteran reserve if they're not wild about what they see from Fincher tonight.
  • Fincher should get plenty of action as the defensive starters are not expected to take the field. All this for $100 and more a ticket.
  • The punt-off between Derrick Frost and Durant Brooks will come down to tonight as the two will alternate kicks. It says here that a tie goes to Frost as Shaun Suisham seems to prefer the veteran as his holder.
  • Don't forget to join in on the blog tonight, live from FedEx Field. You'll have a chance to participate in the beta of the Virtual Locker Room, which will give you a chance to ask questions of the players and of Jim Zorn after the game.

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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