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McMullen vs. Mix

McMullen vs. Mix

Even before the draft, it appeared that Billy McMullen was training camp fodder for the Washington Redskins. In four NFL seasons, the former Virginia Cavalier has caught just 45 passes. He managed just 29 in three seasons in the pass-happy Eagles offense before catching 16 last year for the Minnesota Vikings.

The Redskins signed him to get a big receiver in the fold, but after they drafted the 6-4 Malcolm Kelly and the 6-2 Devin Thomas in the second round, McMullen's 6-4 frame didn't look so imposing. Even absent the draftees, it appeared that the Anthony Mix, a second-year player who appeared to be six feet, five inches of red zone potential, was head and shoulders over McMullen despite his height advantage of just one inch.

After three weeks of training camp and two preseason games, the picture is starting to change. Thomas, Kelly, and Mix have been sidelined with an assortment of ailments. McMullen has been available for every practice and for as many game snaps as they will let him take.

He has made the most of those chances.

Against the Colts he had just one catch, but it was a beauty. On a third and seven play from the Washington 29, Colt Brennan arched a pass on which McMullen made a nifty over-the-shoulder grab that was good for 34 yards.

On Saturday against the Bills, McMullen was the game's leading receiver with six catches for 55 yards. After a couple of grabs he showed some nice run-after-catch ability as he turned upfield with authority.

Mix, meanwhile, had one catch for seven yards last night after missing the Hall of Fame game with a hamstring injury. The injury but bit him again as he left the game after the second-half kickoff after teammate Nemo Broughton clipped him in the ribs while both were making the tackle. While X-rays were negative for any fractures, the missed time hurt Mix more than will the bruised rib cage.

Kelly and Thomas, despite their absence from practice and games, are in no danger of getting cut. Mix, however, has gone from being a fairly sure bet to make the final 53-man roster to being squarely on the bubble. It looks like it will come down to Mix vs. McMullen for the final receiver spot if the Redskins, as expected, keep six.

If all other factors are equal, the Redskins likely would stick with Mix, who is three years younger than McMullen. But the main, overriding aspect that will determine who grabs that last receiver roster spot is production, both in games and on the practice field.

So far, McMullen has been productive and Mix has not.

Still, McMullen would be well advised to keep renting in the DC area and not buy just yet. Assuming that the rib injury is just a minor setback, Mix still has a few weeks to make his case. He had better make the most of that opportunity.

Billy McMullen has made the most of his.

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Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

RICHMOND - Jordan Reed will start Redskins training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. 

The team's PR informed the media that Reed is experiencing pain and soreness in one of his big toes. The move to PUP was characterized as precautionary and they want to ensure that issues don't linger into the regular season. 

DeAngelo Hall, Houston Bates, and practice squadder Kendal Thompson will join Reed on the PUP list. 

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER

For Reed, an integral part of the Redskins offense, there is a long history of injuries. In 2016, he missed time with a separated shoulder and a concussion.

Before Redskins fans freak out, remember Reed took part in minicamp and looked dominant. The PUP list also allows the Redskins to activate Reed once he's capable of practicing. 

Reed did not take part in voluntary OTAs with the Redskins in May, but was a full participant with the team at June's minicamp. 

Asked about injured players taking part in practice during Wednesday's press conference, head coach Jay Gruden opened up:

I think the injured guys are injured guys. We’re never going to change how we treat them. It’s the trainers’ job to tell us when they can go. I’m not going to keep a guy out of practice just because I think he might be injured. It’s up to the trainers and up to that player to let me know whether they can go or not. But like you said, we do have a luxury of having 88 or 87 healthy bodies where we can practice and function without somebody who is injured. That’s the trainers’ job​.

Expect much more on this development.

UPDATE:

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Expectations won't change for Kirk Cousins, regardless of contract status

Expectations won't change for Kirk Cousins, regardless of contract status

RICHMOND - Jay Gruden expects the same effort and production from Kirk Cousins, regardless of the now two-year long contract saga between the quarterback and the Redskins.

"The thing about Kirk is you’re never worried about his preparation. It’s not going to vary from day in to day out," the coach said. "He’s not going to come in and be a different guy every day. He’s the same guy every day. [He’s] a great competitor, wants to get better."

Talks between Cousins' represenatives and the Redskins seemed more congenial this offseason, though the result remained the same. Cousins will be paid $24 million this year on the franchise tag, after making $20 million in 2016 on the same tag. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Redskins team president Bruce Allen explained in a statment that his organization made an offer to Cousins that included $53 million guaranteed. Considering the funny money nature of NFL deals, the offer really only guaranteed another season at about $28 million for Cousins before a series of advantageous terms for the franchise. The deal had no chance of completion considering Cousins' leverage.

Still, Gruden thinks his quarterback will deliver. 

"He has a lot of room for improvement and he wants to be coached and it’s fun to coach him."

If Gruden sounds confident in Cousins' ability to compartmentalize, he should. The quarterback did just that last season, passing for nearly 5,000 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. 

The Redskins, and Cousins, struggled in the red zone in 2016, and that's something Gruden wants to see improved. 

"The contract status will take care of itself eventually, hopefully, but right now it is what it is and we’re happy to have him for 2017."

Long-term deal, or not, it's time for Gruden to coach and Cousins to quarterback.

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