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Need to Know: Bye is coming at the right time for the Redskins

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Need to Know: Bye is coming at the right time for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 27, 12 days before the Redskins visit the New England Patriots.

Tandler’s Take Two Tuesday: Into the bye on a high

One of the topics that is bound to come up in the afterglow of the Redskins’ remarkable, improbably, historic comeback win over the Bucs on Sunday is that it’s a shame that the Redskins are taking a bye after such a big rally to win. Taking a week off will blunt their momentum, this line of thinking will go.

Well, in reality it doesn’t quite work that way. Momentum from game to game is not necessarily a reality in the NFL, at least not in terms of building off of a comeback win. Let’s look at the three times the Redskins came back from 21 points down to win:

—In 1999, they overcame a 21-0 deficit to beat the Panthers in Week 4. They have a bye in Week 5 and beat the Cardinals 24-10 upon returning.

—The Redskins visited the Lions in 1990 and were behind 35-14 in the third quarter. Jeff Rutledge came in at quarterback and led a rally to an overtime win. If any win should build momentum it would be that one. But they went to Philadelphia the following week and lost 28-14. If you’ve been following the team for a while, you’re familiar with that game as the Body Bag Game.

—They followed up Sonny Jurgensen’s greatest comeback, a rally from 21 down to beat Dallas at what was then D. C. Stadium in 1965, with consecutive losses to Browns and Giants.

Yes, that is a small, limited sample size and Sonny and Rutledge don’t play for the 2015 Redskins. But whatever momentum advantage the Redskins might have will be outweighed by the need for the team to return to good health, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. Here are some players who have missed multiple game who could return after the bye:

—WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring) seems to be the most likely to return for the Redskins game against the Patriots. He didn’t really have a setback prior to the Jets game, he just had some tightness due to breaking up some scar tissue. He has missed six games since going out in Week 1.

—Nobody is quite sure what is up with Chris Culliver (knee). Jay Gruden has said that an MRI on it was negative and that the issue is not structural. If rest is the prescription he could be ready as he will have missed three games plus the bye week. This will be something to watch when practice resumes a week from tomorrow.

—CB DeAngelo Hall missed his fourth game after what Gruden said was a toe injury that would have him out three or four weeks. But some wiggle room was left in the timetable so it could be longer. In any case, the extra week should help.

—C Kory Lichtensteiger is another injury surrounded in some mystery. Gruden said it was a disc issue and that there is concern about strength on his left side. We never have been given a timetable for his return so it’s also wait and see.

And then there were a couple of injuries that two key defenders suffered during the Bucs game.

—LB Ryan Kerrigan has had surgery to repair his broken right hand. If there was a game on Sunday there is a chance he would have to miss it. There seems to be a pretty good chance he will be back to play New England, although it's too early to know for certain.

—The most troubling injury of all could be CB Bashaud Breeland’s hamstring. He strained it while he was in the process of chasing down the Bucs’ Doug Martin to make a game-saving tackle. The second-year player has been the glue that has held the back end of the defense together with Hall and Culliver out. He might need to remain that even after the veterans return. We don’t know how severe the injury is but certainly an extra week for it to heal will help.

The Redskins coaches could also use the bye to revamp, or at least tweak, the rushing attack that has been so anemic for the last month or so. Gruden said the coaches would do some self-scouting to clean out some tendencies that other teams have figured out.

In other words, it’s time. The players and coaches have been grinding since training camp started in late July. Even the few players who don’t need a physical break from the game need some mental time off.

We won’t stop grinding here, though. Check here and on CSNmidatlantic.com for some looks back at the first part of the season and some articles looking ahead not only to the final nine games but to the 2016 offseason as well.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 10 a.m.; player availability after practice

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 12; Saints @ Redskins 19; Redskins @ Panthers 26

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Where did Redskins run game go? Gruden wants to recommit to Fat Rob

Where did Redskins run game go? Gruden wants to recommit to Fat Rob

Since the Redskins inserted Robert Kelley into the starting running back spot, Washington's ground game has stabilized and improved. It's well documented that Kelley limits negative plays in the run game - something his predecessor Matt Jones struggled with.

Kelley got his first start in London against the Bengals, and he ran the ball 21 times for 87 yards and a touchdown, good for more than 4 yards-per-carry. From there, Kelley gained 97 yards against the Vikings and 137 against the Packers, both Redskins wins. And in those post-bye week victories over the NFC North foes, Kelley got the ball 22 and 24 times respectively. 

RELATED: THERE'S LOTS OF TALK ABOUT TRENT WILLIAMS AT GUARD INSTEAD OF TACKLE. DON'T LISTEN TO IT.

Coming off the Green Bay win, it seemed obvious that getting Kelley the ball more than 20 times per game was a big boost for the Redskins offense. Against the Packers, Washington piled up more than 500 yards of offense and Kelley averaged 5.7 YPC.

The 'Skins headed to Dallas riding high for a Thanksigving matchup, and quickly got into a big hole en route to a shootout loss. Jay Gruden explained after the game that being down multiple touchdowns early in the game forced Washington to get away from Kelley and rely on Kirk Cousins' arm. The QB's performance was impressive, he threw for more than 400 yards, but Kelley got just 14 carries.

In the Cowboys game, that made sense. 

Against Arizona this past weekend, Kelley again got just 14 carries. And that did not make sense.

"There’s no doubt about it, we would like to get more of [Kelley] involved," Gruden said on Monday.

The Redskins never trailed by more than a TD against the Cardinals like they did against the Cowboys. Washington even held two different second half leads in Arizona, and still, Kelley did not get the ball enough. 

Further, Kelley was running the ball well in the desert. Where he struggled against Dallas - 14 rushes for 37 yards, good for just 2.64 YPC - Kelley gained more than 60 yards on 14 carries against the Cards, good for a 4.5 YPC average.

"We ideally would like to get that running game going a little bit more – more touches for Robert because he’s been very good as far as running the football," Gruden said. "We have got to make sure that we get him more involved, maintain the time of possession and stay more balanced."

Beyond a balanced offense, Cousins often throws his best passes off play action. Without a commitment to the run game, the play action passing looks struggle. Usually one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL, Cousins did not play his best against the Cardinals. Some of that was missing throws, and some of it was heavy pressure from the Arizona defensive line. 

Regardless of the reason for Cousins' struggles - he completed only 21 of 37 pass attempts - more run plays might have helped the Redskins quarterback get into more of a rythym, not to mention slow down the Arizona pass rush.

In six wins this season, the Redskins have run the ball nearly 28 times per game. In five losses, that number dips to 19 runs per game. The proof is in the numbers. 

More Redskins: JAMISON CROWDER'S TOUCHDOWN DANCE WAS BETTER THAN HIS TOUCHDOWN

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Will Long's concussion force the Redskins to make a roster move?

Will Long's concussion force the Redskins to make a roster move?

The Redskins are dealing with concussions to two starters as they start preparations for their critical game against the Eagles on Sunday.

Jay Gruden said on Monday that both center Spencer Long and safety Will Blackmon are in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Long exited the Redskins’ loss to the Cardinals on Sunday in the second quarter and Blackmon left in the fourth. The status of each of the players for Sunday in Philadelphia is up in the air.

RELATED: DO THE REDSKINS NEED A BIG DAY FROM COUSINS TO WIN?

If Blackmon can’t go against the Eagles the team would be able to get by with Donte Whitner and Duke Ihenacho at safety. That would leave them with Deshazor Everett, who hasn’t played a snap on defense this year, as the backup but they could survive.

If it looks like Long will be out the Redskins might have to make some roster changes. Veteran John Sullivan is a capable backup and they can function with him if Long is out. But there is not another center on the roster.

“I think right now if Spencer can’t go then we’d probably have to make a roster adjustment and we’ll have to see where Kory [Lichtensteiger] is,” said Gruden. “We’ll have to see. Ronald Patrick’s on our practice squad, that’s an opportunity. [Shawn] Lauvao is our backup center if he can’t go right now, so I’d like to keep him at guard. He hasn’t done a lot of center work, so we’d have to get somebody in here, somebody up.”

Lichtensteiger was the starter at center until he suffered a calf injury in Week 3. He went on injured reserve right after that. The Redskins have not used their one move to designate a player to return from IR so they could do that with Lichtensteiger if he is healthy.

The Redskins are Patrick’s seventh team since he came into the league as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina in 2014. He is 6-1, 310 and he has yet to be on the 53-man roster for a regular season game.

More Redskins: WHERE DID REDSKINS RUN GAME GO? GRUDEN WANTS TO RECOMMIT TO FAT ROB