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Need to Know: Clarity for Redskins, RG3 remains elusive

Need to Know: Clarity for Redskins, RG3 remains elusive

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 29, the day the Washington Redskins play the Baltimore Ravens.

A cloud of uncertainty will remain

After having a fairly positive training camp in Richmond, the Redskins have not had much go well since returning to Ashburn. To recap the last 12 days at Redskins Park:

—Robert Griffin III was widely quoted as saying he believes he is the best quarterback in the NFL. The remark was taken out of context but that did not keep it from being fodder for blogs and radio and TV talk shows.

—There was a very visible debate involving Griffin and team PR officials over whether or not the quarterback should address the media following the first practice after his “best” comments.

—Griffin and the first team offense looked awful in their Thursday preseason game against the Lions. In four possessions they mustered just one first down and Griffin was hit six times on eight pass dropbacks.

—During that game the Redskins lost special teams captain Adam Hayward for the season with a torn ACL.

—Griffin left the game and it was announced that he was being examined for a possible head injury. Despite media reports that Griffin had passed concussion testing, including one from the team’s own broadcast network, Jay Gruden announced after the game that Griffin did indeed have a concussion.

—Outside linebacker Junior Galette, who was going to be a key part of the Redskins’ pass rush, was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon he suffered late in practice. He was to make his preseason game debut on Saturday.

—On Thursday Griffin held a rather odd news conference where he said that he doesn’t know when or even if he suffered a concussion. He also said, “I just work here” as part of a response to a question about being in the Lions game for four series despite taking some hard hits. A few hours after Griffin’s news conference the team sent out an announcement that he had been cleared to play through the NFL’s concussion protocol.

—On Friday, it was announced that the decision to let Griffin play against the Redskins had been reversed.

The week already was strange before Griffin was taken out of Saturday’s game. And that action robbed the Redskins of a chance to change the narrative.

Had Griffin come in and played well against the Ravens, the conversation would have gone from the tumult at Redskins Park to Griffin and an offense that had turned things around. It would not have taken much, maybe a touchdown drive, a field goal, and a minimal number of sacks and Griffin generally looking better than he did against the Lions. The noise would have died down and the talk could shift to football and preparations for the team’s season opener on September 13.

To be sure, there was no guarantee that such a positive scenario would take place if Griffin was allowed to play. But there was a chance.

But now with Kirk Cousins likely to work with the first team offense the forecast is for more turmoil. If the plays well, Washington will instantly be in full-blown quarterback controversy mode two weeks before the season opener. If he plays poorly, fans and the media will rightly wonder if the team can even match the four wins they got last year. Either that or take hope in Colt McCoy as the savior.

A lack of clarity regarding Griffin has been one of the big clouds hanging over Redskins Park. And it’s not going away.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, 7:30, Comcast SportsNet

—It’s been 244 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 15 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Final cuts 7; Rams @ Redskins 22; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 26

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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

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

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

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A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”