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Need to Know: A heavy workload for Perry Riley

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Need to Know: A heavy workload for Perry Riley

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 11, four days before the Redskins play the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Nickel coverage

1. Starting inside linebacker Perry Riley played 81 of the team’s 83 snaps on defense and then 16 more on special teams. Meanwhile, backup ILB Nick Barnett was active but did not play. I’m not sure why a healthy, active linebacker is sitting out special teams altogether while a starter playing against a hurry-up offense designed to wear down a defense is taking on extra duties covering kicks.

2. Riley was one of 13 defensive players who played more than 20 snaps. Barnett was one of seven active defensive players who played fewer than 10 snaps. For all of the talk about how deep this team is you’d think they might have utilized that depth a bit more against a team running the offense the Eagles did.

3. It looks like Pro Football Focus was more impressed with the Redskins’ offensive line than I was when I did my offensive grades. I gave the unit a D while PFF (premium content) gave all but Tyler Polumbus a positive rating and the right tackle was only minus-0.4. I did point out that two of the three sacks of RG3 came on blitzes and may have been the responsibility of backs who didn’t pick them up. Still, I just thought they didn’t look like they have their act together and Griffin faced consistent pass pressure up the middle. Perhaps we’re both right, they performed OK as individuals but they didn’t work as a cohesive unity.

4. It wasn't exactly stunning to learn that someone from the NFL telling Robert Griffin III to put his knee brace inside his uniform pants was the result of a "miscommunication". It just seemed dumb after he wore the brace on the outside last year. You have to think that the brace functions better when it's worn where it was designed to be worn.

5. Pierre Garçon is taking some heat for the Cary Williams interception, the play early in the third quarter that set up what proved to be the winning points for the Eagles. Some are saying that he should have come back to the ball instead of letting Williams dive and make the pick. Maybe he should have but I don’t think he expected Williams to come flying into the picture and grab the ball. Garçon wasn’t inclined to move up and meet the ball because he wanted to make sure he maintained enough yardage to convert the third and 11. It looks to me like Williams just make a heck of a play.

Stat of the day

—Griffin completed 25 of 36 passes in the last 29 minutes of play on Monday. In entire games last year he only had more attempts once (39 vs. Carolina) and more completions once (26 @ Bucs). Obviously putting the ball in the air that many times is not part of the Redskins’ game plan.

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Packers 4; Lions @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Raiders 18

—Today’s schedule: Player availability in locker room 11:15; Practice 1:00; Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan news conferences after practice (approx. 3:00)

In case you missed it

Little time to breathe for defense as Packers are next

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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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Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Losers of two straight games and for the first time in a month outside of the playoff picture, a desperate Redskins squad travels to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. All the action kicks off on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at noon, but to get ready for the action, here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Getting back to good, or at least decent - Two weeks ago the Redskins seemed like a dangerous playoff squad with a strong offense and an improving defense. After two straight losses where Joe Barry's defense has given up 62 total points, the questions are mounting for Washington. Can the defense get stops on 3rd down? Generate a turnover? The good news for the Redskins is that the Eagles are struggggggling. Their offense has not score more than 15 points in three straight weeks. 
  2. Feed the fat one - After giving Rob Kelley just 28 carries in the last two games, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay owned up to the Redskins lack of run game, "I definitely feel like I could’ve been more patient on some of those early down and distances where you get a little bit pass-heavy. And that’s something that as a decision-maker and as a coordinator, I have to do a better job." In a Week 6 win Kelley and Matt Jones piled up more than 200 rush yards against the Eagles. The 'Skins offense likely won't feature Jones, but expect McVay to feed Fat Rob plenty on Sunday.
  3. Playing in pain - The Redskins offense features a number of dynamic playmaking threats, but arguably the best is tight end Jordan Reed. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Reed separated his left shoulder, and though he finished that game he was forced out of action in Arizona. Expect Reed to be back Sunday, and expect Kirk Cousins to look for him early and often. On the season, Reed has more than 600 receiving yards and five TDs.
  4. If it ain't broke - Kirk Cousins has had more success against the Eagles than any other team in the NFC East. In four career games against Philly, COusins averages 336 yards per game passing to go with a 101.3 QB rating. He's thrown 10 touchdowns against the Eagles to just two interceptions. The biggest win of his career came last year when Cousins and the 'Skins clinched the NFC East title at Lincoln Financial Field. Cousins suceeds against the Eagles, and there's no reason it should stop Sunday. 
  5. Don't fly away - Rumors are starting to circulate that the Eagles would like to bring back DeSean Jackson next season. It's well known that Jackson will probably hit free agency after this season, and if Philly did pursuit their former playmaker, it would make sense. But between now and then, Jackson has another opportunity to torch his former team and help the Skins pursue a Wild Card bid at the same time. In his past two games, Jackson and COusins have connected on deep patterns, and there's little reason to tbink the same won't happen Sunday.

Numbers & Notes

  • If tight end Vernon Davis catches three passes he will become the 12th tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions.
  • With two more catches, wide receiver Jamison Crowder will set a single-season career high in receptions. He caught 59 passes in 2015.
  • If the Redskins win would mark five straight victories against the Eagles for the Redskins for the first time since a six-game winning streak in the series across the 1981-84 seasons.

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!