DefenseGrade vs. Bengals: DComment:Lets start off by discussing what went right for the Redskins defense on Sunday. With linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker lost for the season, opportunity knocked for backups. One of them, Rob Jackson, seized his opportunity, recording three tackles for loss and intercepting a pass in the end zone for a touchdown in his first NFL start.That, however, is where the positive reviews end.As a unit, the Redskins struggled from the Bengals first play from scrimmage through the fourth quarter, yielding 450-plus yards of total offense for the second straight week, while sacking Andy Dalton only twice. In 16 games last season, the 13th-ranked unit surrendered 400 yards a total of three times.The biggest concern entering Sundays game in Tampa is the inadequate play of the secondary and, specifically, its vulnerability to big plays. A week after Sam Bradford and the Rams completed pass plays of 56, 34, 27 and 25 yards, the Bengals connected on long passes of 73, 59, 48, 38, 27, 25 and 22 yards. The three longest all resulted in touchdowns.Theres plenty of blame to spread around. DeJon Gomes and DeAngelo Hall failed to impede A.J. Green on the wildcat formation that resulted in the 73-yard score on Cincinnatis first play from scrimmage. Josh Wilson gambled and lost on the 38-yard touchdown and rookie Richard Crawford was burned by a double move on the 59-yarder in the fourth quarter that clinched the victory.Is the culprit preparation? Personnel? Injuries? The simple answer is its probably a combination of all three.The secondary seemed utterly confused and slow to react on the Bengals trick play in the first quarter.Injuries are hurting, too. The trio of linebackers asked to replace Orakpo -- Jackson, Chris Wilson and Markus White must improve in pass coverage. Gomes has been playing for Brandon Meriweather. Crawford played on Sunday for Cedric Griffin, who suffered a hamstring injury early and did not return. And dont forget that the team had been counting on a significant contribution from Tanard Jackson, who was suspended for the season after failing a drug test.Thats not an excuse, its reality.Whats frustrates Hall the most, though, is the fact that core defensive players had longed for an offense that up points. Now theyve got one, they cant stop anyone.Last year, 21 points was a great day, Hall said. To see this offense go out these last three weeks and put up the kind of points they have and the defense go out there and totally drop the ball, its frustrating.
In 2016, Chris Thompson simply needed to prove to Jay Gruden that he could handle 16 NFL games.
Now, looking ahead to 2017, the fifth-year running back hopes to show his head coach he can shoulder 16 NFL games and a larger workload.
"I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year," Thompson said Monday at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation. "[Gruden] knows now that I'm healthy and I can stay healthy, which I think that was one of his biggest concerns. So now he sees that I can handle the load, I think that I'll get a lot more opportunities this year."
Last season was by far the best in the 26-year-old's career. He played a full slate of games after playing in just 19 over his first three seasons combined, and he set career highs in rushing attempts (68), yards (356), receptions (49), receiving yards (349) and total touchdowns (5).
MORE REDSKINS: TEAM IS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE WITH PLANS FOR NEW STADIUM
He also held up well in pass protection, a key duty for him as the team's third-down running back. And it's all of those qualities — being able to contribute on handoffs and with catches while also providing help in keeping Kirk Cousins upright — that make him an excellent fit for a popular NFL duty.
The most excellent in that duty, actually, if you ask Gruden.
"I think Chris Thompson's role is big," he said. "When you're talking about third downs, that's the most important down in football. There's nobody better as a third-down back in my opinion than Chris. He's got a huge role on this football team."
Gruden went on to indicate that an increase in Thompson's responsibilities is likely coming, though No. 25 will still do the majority of his work when the offense needs him most.
"Whether he does some more stuff on first- and second-down will be determined," he said. "I'm sure he will. But he's so valuable on third-down that I gotta keep him in that role for now."
A 2013 fifth-round pick who came into the league with a history of injuries, Thompson has now fully gained the trust of his coaches and teammates. The 5-foot-8 running back may be small in stature, but the Redskins know he's not small in importance.
Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings?
Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit.
CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS
Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.
Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.
Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.
That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed.
Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.
2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:
* Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans