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Need to Know: Another special teams challenge on tap for the Redskins

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Need to Know: Another special teams challenge on tap for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 29, five days before the Redskins host the Eagles.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

QB battle less than thrilling—For one of the few times this year the Redskins could field the better quarterback in a game. Kirk Cousins isn’t exactly tearing up the league but Sam Bradford has the same 3-4 touchdown to interception count as Cousins and has a worse completion percentage (Cousins 69.2%, Bradford 62.4 percent) and a lower yards per pass attempt average (Cousins 6.7, Bradford 5.8). Bradford just doesn’t look comfortable in Chip Kelly’s system at this point.

Protecting the quarterback—The Redskins have done a very good job of protecting the quarterback so far. Their four sacks allowed is tied for ninth best in the NFL. But the Eagles have allowed Sam Bradford to get sacked only twice. This could be an X-factor is the game; one of the teams could get an decided advantage by breaking through and racking up three or four sacks.

Containing Sproles—The Redskins did a good job of bottling up Rams punt returner Tavon Austin a week after he had returned a punt for a touchdown against the Seahawks. Now the Redskins face Darren Sproles, who took one back all the way against the Jets on Sunday. Sproles is also a threat from scrimmage, although he has been pretty well bottled up so far this year.

Lack of Eagles big plays—Reuben Frank, who covers the Eagles for our sister site, CSN Philly, tweeted out the following stat on Monday morning:

The Redskins have four plays that covered a third of the field so far. The Eagles’ big plays likely will come at some point; they had 21 of them last year. But you have to wonder if Chip Kelly doesn’t sometimes regret giving big-play wide receiver DeSean Jackson his walking papers in 2014.

Will Murray break out?—In his years with Dallas, the Redskins contained DeMarco Murray pretty well, holding him under his career averages in both yards per carry (4.8 career, 4.6 vs. Redskins) and yards per game (82.5 career, 74.4 vs. Redskins). Murray has become the poster child for futility in Philadelphia with 11 yards on 21 carries after being a big splash signing in free agency. The Redskins will need to keep him bottled up. If he gets rolling, even just to the extent of having his average game against the Redskins, it could get the whole Eagles offense rolling.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Falcons 12; Redskins @ Jets 19

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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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. 

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