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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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Redskins coaching staff believes backups on O-line will be 'ready to roll'

Redskins coaching staff believes backups on O-line will be 'ready to roll'

All signs point to the Redskins starting Arie Kouandjio at left guard this weekend against the Eagles, and the coaching staff knows it's a big chance for the second-year man.

Incumbent starter Shawn Lauvao injured his groin last week against the Cardinals, and has not practiced all week. Assuming he doesn't play, this would mark Kouandjio's second start this season. He also got the start against the Browns in Week 4.

Washington coach Jay Gruden did not speak glowingly of Kouandjio's play against Cleveland, but it wasn't a negative review, either.

"He’s played one game, he played OK," the coach said. "He has another great opportunity for him. He’s waited his turn, done what’s asked of him. Practiced hard, played hard, and it’s a great opportunity.”

With center Spencer Long currently in concussion protocol and backup John Sullivan started to go in the middle of the Redskins offensive line, the group will have a number of new faces against the Eagles. The right side of the line, with guard Brandon Scherff and tackle Morgan Moses, will be the same as its been all year, though both of those players are nursing ankle injuries. 

"We have confidence in the guys that if some of those guys that are backups need to step up and be ready to roll," offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

The Eagles defense is on a big-play streak, but not one that defensive coordinators will like very much, and it could be very good news for the Redskins and DeSean Jackson. 

At this stage of his career, Jackson is a well-known deep threat. While much of the 2016 season has been disappointing for Jackson, in back-to-back weeks, the vertical passing attack has worked. In Arizona last Sunday, Jackson only caught one pass, but it went for 59 yards. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Jackson hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins as part of his season-high 118 receiving yards.

"What he brings to this football team, he brings something that not a lot of people can bring, and that’s obviously the speed and the big play ability," 'Skins head coach Jay Gruden said of Jackson.

The last two games moved Jackson's yards-per-catch average back in normal range with the rest of his career at 16.5. Halfway through this season, Jackson was averaging below 14 YPC, which would have been by far the worst of his career.

"A lot of people think that we haven’t utilized his speed quite like we should, but I think he has had a major impact on this football team," Gruden said. "His deep threat has an impact on the defense. It opens up areas for Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder and the backs sometimes. He’s been a major influence for this football team in a good way."

Beyond just the big plays, the Eagles defense has given up 645 passing yards in their last two games. Cousins has historically played well in Philadelphia, and should be in good position to do the same this weekend.

And based on the Eagles' past six games, expect Jackson to have another big game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!