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Need to Know: 5 focal points during the Redskins' rookie minicamp

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Need to Know: 5 focal points during the Redskins' rookie minicamp

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 16, 11 days before the start of OTAs. Nickel coverage The Redskins’ rookie minicamp gets underway today; the media will be able to watch on Saturday. Here are five things I’ll be looking for:

Who returns punts and kicks? This never was resolved last year and among the players signed and drafted so far, none is an obvious candidate. They probably won’t do much more than just catch kicks but seeing who does that could be the first piece of the puzzle.

Does Spencer Long play center? I’m not sure if they are going to have Long line up in the middle of the line this year. But they could get an idea of what he can do if they do put him at center for this. In particular, they will get an idea of if shotgun/pistol snaps will come easily to him.

What’s Gruden’s on-field demeanor? Is he a yeller? How much individual instruction/attention does he give players? Does he observe the defense at all?

How well does Cody Hoffman move? The 6-4 wide receiver out of Brigham Young is a fan favorite to make the roster. They might be on to something since the receiving corps lacks height and that’s something that Gruden has been known to favor. But he needs to learn how to fight his way off the line and run better routes if he’s going to have a chance.

How is Bashaud Breeland’s game speed? If he had shaved a tenth or so off of his 4.53 time in the 40-yard dash he might have been a first- or second-round draft pick. Players can make up for a lack of great foot speed with smarts. It will be interesting to see how well Breeland anticipates and tracks the ball in the air.

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—It’s been 138 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 114 days until they play the Texans in the 2014 season opener.

Days until: OTAs 11; Training camp starts 68; Preseason opener Patriots @ Redskins 83

In case you missed it

Tandler talks about the 53-man roster. Your browser does not support iframes.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

One of the longest eras in NASCAR will come to an end concluding the 2017 season. Early on Tuesday morning, Hendrick Motorsports announced that 18-year veteran, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would retire at the conclusion of the current season. Earnhardt, son of the late legendary seven-time champion, Dale Earnhardt Sr., told his No. 88 team members before the organization released the news.

Last season, the 42-year-old missed the final 18 races of the NASCAR season due to a concussion. The injury resulted in a 32nd place finish in the NASCAR standings and it was the first time he missed the association's 'playoffs' since 2010. 

Throughout his long career, Earnhardt captured 26 race wins, two being the elusive Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. Due to the legendary status of his father, he never quite lived up to the level many placed on the Earnhardt family name. His win total is roughly a third of his father's and has not won a championship. Best career points finish for Earnahrdt was third in 2003, and finished fifth three times (2004, 2006, 2013). Starting in 603 total races, he has finished in the top 10 in nearly half of those races, 253 times.

Despite the lack of a championship, he was named NASCAR's most popular driver 14 times, trailing only Bill Elliott who won that honor 16 seasons. 

RELATED: Earnhardt forced to race in Eagles' themed car

At the end of 2017, Earnhardt's contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire after 10 seasons with NASCAR's most successful team. Prior to his tenure with Hendrick, he was a part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. for eight years where he won 17 of his total 26 race wins. 

Currently, Earnhardt is 24th in the NASCAR standings, 50 points behind the cut-off for the final playoff spot. There are still 18 races remaining in the season for him to make up the ground with some of his best tracks still on the docket. In addition, a win would boost Earnhardt up into a playoff spot due to NASCAR's playoff system. 

With Earnhardt Jr. retiring, there will be one Earnhardt remaining in the Monster Energy Cup Series to carry the family name. Grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr., and nephew of Jr., Jeffery Earnhardt is a regular in the series. 

Hendrick Motorsports announced in their release that they will not name a replacement for Earnhardt Jr. just yet. During his 18-race absence in 2016, he was replaced by a young prospect, Alex Bowman and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon. It is anticipated either Bowman or 19-year-old William Byron, who Rick Hendrick signed to an Xfinity Series contract last season, will take his place. 

As a lifetime fan of the Washington football team, Earnhardt has been known to put his opinion of the team out there. He was not happy with how the team handled Scot McCloughan situation, and publicly voiced his support of Kirk Cousins. Regularly he has been mentioned as the team's most-famous fan. 

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One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

Football coaches hate fumbles, and Jay Gruden is no different. Remember that Matt Jones had established himself as the Redskins lead running back despite persistent fumbling issues his first two years in the NFL. That was until a goal line fumble Week 7 in Detroit. Jones never played again in 2016. 

Fast forward to Thursday night's NFL Draft, and the buzz surrounding the Redskins interest in Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey could all boil down to fumbles.

Both Cook and McCaffrey visited Redskins Park, and both players possess the speed and game-breaking ability that could deliver big returns to the Washington offense. Since the NFL Combine, McCaffrey has emerged as the higher draft pick.

Their college statistics are fairly similar. Both players went for more than 5,000 total yards in three college seasons. The size is similar too, Cook gets listed at 6-foot, 209 lbs., while McCaffrey gets listed at 5-foot-11 and 203 lbs.

One area that's quite different: Fumbles. 

An average NFL running back fumbles once every 100 carries. Rich Tandler researched an incredible stat about the two players:

  • McCaffrey averages one fumble every 243 carries.
  • Cook averages one fumble every 63 carries. 

The difference is staggering. And it could be enough to keep the 'Skins away from Cook at 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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