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Moss performing like a receiver 'possessed'

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Moss performing like a receiver 'possessed'

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.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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