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Need to Know: An opportunity lost for the Redskins

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Need to Know: An opportunity lost for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 13, five days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

An opportunity lost

The Redskins’ loss to the Falcons represented something beyond another mark in the “L” column in the standings. It was a lost opportunity.

This team is trying to flip the script and change its reputation. They want to go from being soft to being tough, from chokers to clutch performers, from a group of inconsistent performers to a machine, from road kill to road warriors. And, most important, from losers to winners.

The Redskins had a chance to take a step in in the right direction in all of those negative areas against the Falcons. They came close. They were tough and came through in some key situations. The Redskins had their chances to knock off an undefeated team on the road.

But the opportunity was lost. Instead of being played over and over again in top 10 highlights, Bashaud Breeland’s fourth-quarter interception and deft 28-yard return to set up what could have been the clinching points, the play is a mere footnote. The drive in the final 24 seconds of the game to set up Dustin Hopkins’ tying field goal from 52 yards out could have been the stuff of legend. Instead, any recounting of the drive will be followed by, “yeah, but . . .”

The good thing about the NFL in October is that there always are more chances coming. The Redskins have another on coming on Sunday in the Meadowlands. They face a 3-1 Jets team coming off of the bye. They aren’t perceived to be quite in the class with the Falcons but they almost certainly will be a popular pick giving anywhere from four to seven points to the Redskins.

But even if they manage to spring the upset, there still will be questions about consistency. The Redskins have alternated losses and wins so far in their first five games. Even slightly better than mediocre teams put together a winning streak every now and then. Since winning seven in a row to finish off the 2012 season in style, the longest winning streak the Redskins have put together is two, and they've done that just once. That is it in terms of winning streaks, even if you want to call it that. And with a trip to Foxboro to play the Patriots coming up after the games against the Jets and Bucs (and the bye), the prospects for winning more than two in a row starting here are pretty dim.

You never know how things are going to go. The glass half full scenario is that they are improved over last year when the adversity could have crushed them, and that they are moving in the right direction. At some point that will show up in the win column.

But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes a team just can’t get over the hump and continues to lose winnable games. Nobody can say for sure where the Redskins are headed.

They say that a good team is one that can play at less than its best and still win. I don’t know how you would describe a team that can’t do the two main things it was built to do (run the ball and stop the run), has an erratic day from its quarterback, gives up a go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds left to play and still almost pulls out a road win over a 4-0 team.

I guess we'll just call them the 2015 Redskins and see how it all turns out.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 5; Bucs @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Patriots 26

In case you missed it

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.

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Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

After separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Jordan Reed has officially been ruled out for the Redskins game in Arizona. 

Friday, coach Jay Gruden said Reed doesn't have sufficient range of motion to play against the Cardinals but remains hopeful he'll be healthy for the following game against the Eagles. Reed estimated that range was at about 30 percent Monday.

The decision to sit Reed against the Cardinals comes with little surprise. The 'Skins star tight end did not practice all week, even after having a few extra days to rest after the game last Thursday.

Playing without Reed is obviously a blow to the Washington offense, but No. 2 tight end Vernon Davis has been a strong development for Gruden's team this year. Thursday, Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay said that while losing Reed is a blow to the unit, the team can run almost all of the same plays and sets with Davis that they can with Reed. 

"Fortunately you’re in a situation where you feel really good about your tight end in Vernon Davis where he’s playing at an extremely high level in both phases in the run and in the pass game," McVay said.

As good as Davis has been, he's not the dynamic threat Reed presents. In the second half against Dallas — while playing with the injured shoulder — Reed hauled in two touchdowns and played arguably the best football of his career.

On the season Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns despite missing two games earlier this year dealing with a concussion.

Davis has played in all 11 games this season and has 31 catches for 450 yards and two TDs. 

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