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Former USC recruit, exonerated convict, to tryout for Redskins

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Former USC recruit, exonerated convict, to tryout for Redskins

Former USC recruit Brian Banks is expected to tryout with the Redskins, according to ESPN.

Banks, a middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, had his football career cut short in 2002 when he plead no contest to a schoolmate's false accusation of rape at the age of 17. Banks spent his next five years in a jail cell.

Last week Banks was completely exonerated of his rape and kidnapping conviction after a ten-year nightmare when his accuser admitting to lying about a charge she made at sixteen years of age.

While fighting his case in 2003 --a battle that cost his mother both her condo and her car-- Banks worked toward completing his high school degree. Despite his grim circumstances, Banks never gave up on himself and his future while in prison. He took college courses. He remained athletic. He focused on life beyond bars.

"Those first few months were the hardest for me," Banks said in an ESPNLA interview. "There were times where I just wanted to give up and give in to the life and environment of prison but it was at that time that I realized: I'm in here for something I didn't do. I'm not even supposed to be here.

"With that in mind I vowed to myself to focus on the betterment of me, regardless of the environment. I wanted to focus on my attitude and outlook of what I wanted to be regardless of what people thought of me or labeled me to be. I just focused on bettering myself and moving forward ... it's gotten me to where I am today: a free man with a good heart and strong mind."

Banks has been working vigorously with personal trainers since October in the hopes of achieving a dream he was forced to shelve for a decade.

"I live by the saying, 'Good things come to those who hustle while they wait,'" explained Banks. "There is nothing in this world that I feel is too difficult for me, or too hard for me to accomplish because the hardest thing for me to do was to become free --and I accomplished that." said Banks. "Everything else is sky's the limit."

With Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, Lorenzo Alexander and recent additions Keenan Robinson and Jonathan Goff, the Redskins will probably just be looking to add some inexpensive padding to their depth charts at the linebacker position, which could be a great scenario for both the Redskins and Banks.

"I'm confident in what I've done so far," said Banks. "I know that if given the opportunity to show my talents any team would be impressed with what I can do, despite all the things that I've been through these last ten years."

Banks is also expected to workout with the Seahawks, Chiefs and Dolphins.

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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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Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players who could make big impact

Redskins Playbook: 3 under-the-radar players who could make big impact

Much of the Redskins offseason has been focused on players like Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins, or the addition of guys like Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown. Further down the roster, however, is where games are won. Here's a look at three players that will have the opportunity to make a big impact in 2017.

  1. Kendall Fuller - Let's be honest: the second-year Hokie had a tough rookie year. He started the season injured, and probably wasn't all the way up to speed when he began playing Week 4. Early on he produced at a good level for a rookie, but quickly, the league saw how to beat him. In a November game against the Vikings, Fuller repeatedly got beat on the inside by Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. After that, the Redskins coaching staff looked elsewhere for a slot corner. 2017 is a new season, and Fuller will be a full year removed from his knee injury. He still has good vision and hips, an NFL pedigree, and should have the first crack at the slot corner role. If he can produce like many expected from him in 2015 - when he was an assumed first-round pick - Fuller could make a big difference for the Washington defense. Third round draft pick Fabian Moreau might also push for snaps at corner, once he gets healthy. 
  2. Stacy McGee - A new addition to the defense, McGee might be the answer Redskins fans want at nose tackle. Last season was by the far the best of McGee's career, and he emerged as a strong run stopper in Oakland. With his frame, and Jim Tomsula's coaching, McGee might play a big role this fall. His biggest hurdle? Staying healthy. In four seasons in the NFL, McGee has only played 16 games one season. Last year, he was limited to just nine games.
  3. Spencer Long - A free agent at the end of the season, Long comes in to 2017 looking to prove he can be a top tier center in the NFL. He excelled in pass blocking and calling the assignments on the Redskins line, but his run blocking could improve this fall. The literal centerpiece of a strong, young 'Skins line, 2017 will be a big opportunity for Long. Don't forget Washington moved up to draft Chase Roullier from Wyoming in the 6th round, and he played center and guard in college. Life in the NFL always has pressure, and Long will be facing some.

Always something on social: Enjoy the weekend folks.

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