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Need to Know: Big Year 3 for Hankerson, Robinson

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Need to Know: Big Year 3 for Hankerson, Robinson

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 29, 10 days before the Redskins open their preseason against the Titans.

Make or break for Hank, Robinson?

The Redskins drafted three wide receivers in 2011. One of them, fifth-round pick Niles Paul, has been converted to tight end. This could be the year we find out what the Redskins get out of the other two.

Mike Shanahan didn’t come out and say that this is a make or break year for Leonard Hankerson (3rd round) and Aldrick Robinson (7th) but he did say that the career trajectory of the two needed to move upward in 2013 if they hope to ever be starting caliber receivers.

“Everybody knows what type of speed he has,” Shanahan said of Robinson. “For him to really step up his game, he’s got to be consistent with the underneath routes as much as the deep routes.”

Robinson hauled in touchdown passes of 49 yards against the Eagles and 68 yards in Dallas but he disappeared from the offense after defenses found out he wasn’t much of a threat if you kept him from going deep.

Hankerson has been catching nearly everything throw to him in OTAs, minicamp and, until yesterday, training camp. But in one drill he smoked Richard Crawford and got open deep. Robert Griffin put the ball right in his hands but Hankerson dropped it.

“[Hankerson’s] got to be more consistent, not only blocking, but catching the short route, the deep route,” said Shanahan. “Like he had today, the one ball he had in his hands and dropped it at the last second. He has to have that concentration level. He has to be mentally tough to make those plays in practice, which will carry over to games.”

The optimal outcome here, of course, would be for Hankerson and Robinson to become consistent, well rounded receivers. The position is expensive to fill in free agency, as the Redskins found out when they signed Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan to contracts worth a combined $53 million last year. And, as Robinson and Hankerson show, many receivers take time to develop and you are never really sure if they ever will.

Consistency is the key. If the Redskins can count on getting the best of Robinson and Hankerson on a regular basis, Shanahan will be happy.

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Today’s schedule (all practices open to the public)

10:00—Walkthrough practice, players available to media coming off the field

After walkthrough (approx. 11:30)—News conference with player TBA

3:20—Full practice, players available to media coming off the field

5:30 (approx.)—Mike Shanahan news conference

DL depth being put to the test

In case you missed it

Days until: Redskins @ Titans preseason opener 10; Final cuts 33; Eagles @ Redskins 42

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

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Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

GLENDALE, AZ—As expected, the Redskins will be without star tight end Jordan Reed today against the Cardinals.

He is inactive due to a third-degree AC joint sprain in his left shoulder.

Reed gutted it out and played the second half on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas after being injured in the first but during the week he didn’t practice at all couldn’t regain the range of motion needed to play today.

Coach Jay Gruden said on Friday that the team is planning on having Reed play next week against the Eagles.

For this week, Vernon Davis will step into the starting role.

Also inactive is reserve defensive lineman Anthony Lanier, who was kicked in the lower leg in Dallas. Gruden said that the swelling was still too severe for him to be able to play.

LIVE BLOG: WEEK 13 REDSKINS VS. CARDINALS

The Redskins’ other inactive players today:

  • QB Nate Sudfeld
  • DL AJ Francis
  • RB Matt Jones
  • WR Rashad Ross
  • DB Dashaun Phillips