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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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The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER WITH KEY STATS FOR KIRK COUSINS IN 2017

Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins:

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 23, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 49 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 18
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 27
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

The Redskins by the numbers

5.01—The average yards per carry against the Redskins on first down last year.

I have noted this before but I took a closer look and it’s even worse. In 2016, four running backs—Isaiah Crowell of the Browns, DeAngelo Williams of the Steelers, Jordan Howard of the Bears, and Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys—gained over 100 yards against Washington on first down alone. It took Elliott two games to get there but the other three made it in one. If the Redskins don’t get this fixed (this is the second year in a row they have been last in the league here) their defense won’t get much better.

3.85—The Redskins average offensive gain per carry on first down.

This is not a very good performance here — the average is 20th in the NFL. But it does represent a significant improvement from 2015, when they were last in the NFL at 3.3 yards per carry. One difference was negative plays. Two years ago, they had 63 first-down plays go for no gain or a loss of yards. Last year they had 48 such plays. Rob Kelley, who was fourth-best in the league as a rookie last year at gaining yardage after being contacted behind the line, can claim a lot of credit.

8—The number of opponents’ fumbles the Redskins recovered this year.

A total of 17 other teams recovered more fumbles than the Redskins did last year and their recoveries were exactly half of what they were in 2015, when they had 16, the most in the league. It wasn’t surprising that their recoveries fell. The numbers crunchers say that fumble recoveries aren’t “sticky,” meaning that there tends to be a lot of variance for each team each year. And that makes sense as a lot of recovering fumbles is the bounce of the ball.

But it should be noted that the Redskins forced just 22 fumbles last year after forcing 36 in 2015. You have to get the ball on the ground to recover it and the Redskins could do a better job of forcing fumbles in 2017

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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