Not so long ago, Santana Moss' place within the Redskins' receiving corps and his spot on the 53-man roster - appeared shaky. Two positive statements bythose named Shanahan later, there now appears to be onlya thin chance the slimmed down 33-year-oldwill not be around for the regular season opener.First, there was head coach Mike Shanahan. Following a practice earlier thismonth, he praised Moss' fitness, declaring, "Itsthe best I've seen him since I've been here."On Wednesday, it was Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's turn totoss a solid in number 89's direction."Santanas entire offseason, he came in, to me he came in possessed. Hewas ready to go," the younger Shanahan said during his post-minicamp pressconference in which he also noted the impact following the receiver's weightloss. After playing last season north of 200 pounds - his playing weight on theRedskins site currently reads 205 - Moss is now reportedly in the 190-poundrange."We got Santana to come in, lose some weight and he did," KyleShanahan said. "You know a lot of guys can lose weight by starvingthemselves, staying in the steam and dehydrating themselves and just getting ona scale. Santana did it the right way. I feel hes more powerful. Hes moreexplosive. Hes about 10 or 15 pounds lighter and hes been great outthere."Last season the 11-year veteran posted a disappointing 46 receptions for 584yards and four touchdowns. Moss played in only 12 games, missing time with ahand injury. His projected 2012 salary cap number is around 2.65 million. For a teammissing some of its precious cap space following a league sanction, that's afigure large enough to consider eliminating - especially if it's not for afrontline starter.Maybe all those factors plus the Redskins signing two notable free agentreceivers this year gave Moss an extra kick with his workout program. Who couldblame him.Of course, the new guys are just that, new. I previously wrote howexperience could be Moss' trump card. The two newcomers, Pierre Garcon and JoshMorgan, are learning the Shanahan's system while 2011 draft choice LeonardHankerson is essentially getting a second crack at a rookie season. With rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III preparing for his first NFLaction, plying him with instinctive and playmaking weapons is vital. Moss isshowing he can play that part."He has a better understanding of the offense," Kyle Shanahansaid.Shanahan also noted this is the first offseason since his father took overthat they have had the opportunity to meet with players with their own Redskinsgame tape available. In 2010, the Shanahan's arrived. Last season the NFLlockout derailed spring and summer practices. Regardless, Moss' comfort level appears to have expanded just as hisphysique went the other way. "You saw it physically, and then to see him in the meeting rooms, hesbeen great," Kyle Shanahan said. "Hes been so attentive and itsshown over to the field. The guys not thinking out there, hes confident inhis speed. He feels confident in his knowledge of the offense and theres nohesitation. Hes been very exciting."Morgan and Hankerson, both recovering from injuries, have been limitedparticipants during the spring practices. Their absence has kept Mossconsistently working with the starters. Based on the Shanahan's touts, Moss'efforts might have placed him in that position regardless.
Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 29, 29 days before the April 27 NFL draft.
—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 19
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 44
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 56
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 108
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 156
Rule changes with commentary
—Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.
Tandler: While it’s a fun play when it’s executed properly I can see the player safety angle of it. I’m not sure why teams didn’t just run some placement kicks with delayed snaps to get a free five yards because once a player has committed to the leap he can’t stop.
—Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
Tandler: One of the few times that this came into play was in Week 3 when Giants center Weston Richburg got the boot for multiple penalties against the Redskins. I suppose most Redskins fans will be fine with it until a Washington player gets kicked out of a key game. Last year the rule was experimental and this makes it permanent
—Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.
Tandler: I think this is kind of a dumb rule but it's designed to reduce kickoff returns and they did go down from 1,138 in 2015 to 1,012 last season. That’s an 11 percent drop and they want to give the experimental rule another year to see if that was just a statistical anomaly. It should be noted here that the Redskins’ proposal to place a kickoff that goes through the uprights at the 20-yard line did muster 11 votes but that’s far short of the 24 needed to pass it. The No Fun League indeed.
—Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
Tandler: These are two different rules but I’m combining them into once comment—good for player safety, not sure why it took them so long to pass these rules.
RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0
—Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
Tandler: This is good for so many reasons. We should get better, more consistent decisions (although there’s no guarantee that my evergreen “Siri, what is a catch” tweet will be retired permanently). And the time that replay uses up should be greatly reduced.
—Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
Tandler: This keeps teams from grabbing multiple receivers to prevent a Hail Mary attempt at the end of half or a game and prevents them from holding multiple players on a punt attempt to run out the clock at the end of a game. It’s a loophole that was closed, forcing a team to play defense or execute a punt instead of committing intentional penalties. The key is that the clock is reset to where it was when the ball was snapped.
—Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.
Tandler: This just takes the penalties that result in 10-second runoffs in the last minute of a half, mostly false starts when the clock is running, and makes them illegal any time after the two-minute warning.
Tandler on Twitter
Responding to a tweet saying that the rule to put replay in the hands of official at the NFL offices:
Best news of the day. Replay review now out of the hands of Jeff Triplette. https://t.co/p6XWkiAcMa— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) March 28, 2017
In case you missed it
It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.
"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.
The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.
"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.
Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.
Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.
For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.
In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.
"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."
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