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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns—An end to red zone woes?

Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns—An end to red zone woes?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 2, seven days before the Washington Redskins go up the road to play the Ravens in Baltimore.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Browns @ Redskins, 1 p.m., CBS

Days until: Redskins @ Ravens 7; Eagles @ Redskins 14; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 28

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns

—Is this the game that the red zone woes start to fade away? The Browns are 24th in the red zone defensively. And at some point the Redskins are bound to revert to the norm. Washington has scored touchdowns on 21.4 percent of its trips to the red zone this year. Over each of the past three seasons the teams with the worst red zone conversion percentages for the NFL season had rates between 36 and 43 percent. You have to figure the Redskins will get at least to that level, which means that a streak of red zone success is inevitable at some point.

—There is a lot of talk about the need to stop Terrelle Pryor but the Redskins had better not sleep on tight end Gary Barnidge. Last year he made the Pro Bowl with 79 receptions for 1043 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s off to a slow start this year with just nine receptions for 103 yards but they still need to keep a close eye on him.

—I’ve said a few time this week that if Arie Kouandjio, after coming in as a fourth-round pick and spending two offseason programs, two training camps, and many hours in practices and meetings under Bill Callahan's tutelage, can’t handle a game or two at guard the drafting and coaching involved need to be questioned. They have to start Kouandjio. And if it turns out he can’t handle it the Redskins could always shift back to the alignment they had in the second half last week with Trent Williams at left guard and Ty Nsekhe at left tackle. But that is only a “break glass in case of emergency” option. I think that Kouandjio will be fine and Williams will stay in place and Nsekhe will be on the bench.

—The Browns have given up 109 rushing yards per game this year, around the NFL average of 104 per game. They have been tested a bit with the Eagles rushing 34 times against them and the Ravens and Dolphins 26 and 25 times, respectively. The point here is that some are automatically assuming that the Redskins should get their running game going because they are playing an 0-3 team. Cleveland’s rushing defense may be too good for the Redskins to go out and take what they want on the ground, especially with their modified offensive line. The Redskins' ideal game plan would be to build a lead through the air and spend the last 20 minutes of the game chewing up clock and yards on the ground. But that's their formula nearly every game and it rarely seems to work out that way.

—In 2008 a Rams team that was 1-4 and would go 2-14 came to FedEx Field to play a 4-1 Redskins team. The Redskins were in control and driving for a second quarter score when a Jason Campbell pass was batted into the air. The ball fell into the arms of Washington guard Pete Kendall, who instinctively caught it. As he tried to get a few yards the ball was knocked out of his arms and Rams safety O.J. Atogwe scooped it up and went 75 yards for a touchdown. The Redskins never were able to recover and they lost the game. Something like that would have to happen for the Redskins to lose to the Browns today. Barring a fluke the Redskins should make it to the red zone like they have been but they should cash in when they get there.

Redskins 28, Browns 10

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Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

As Jay Gruden stepped to the podium to read the injury report, he warned, “This will be a while.”

He was right, as he rattled off one the longest injury reports of the season.

Out were G Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion), DE Chris Baker (ankle), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Anthony Lanier (lower leg), G Shawn Lauvao (groin), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (illness).

Of that group, all but Jean Francois, Lanier, and Nsekhe are starters. Between them and the limited players listed below it was difficult for the Redskin to conduct a normal practice.

“It was a challenge,” said Gruden of getting through it. “Practice was modified quite a bit today. We did more walkthrough today than we ever have on a Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you have to taper back just a hair to make it through practice, try to get the mental reps in with walkthrough and then hopefully the physical part will come maybe tomorrow. Friday we can open them up a bit.”

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

READ MORE: FULL UPDATE ON JORDAN REED

Reed returned to practice for the first time since suffering a Grade 3 sprain to the AC joint in his left shoulder in the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He missed the game in Arizona. While his limited participation was a good sign for his return it’ is way too early in the week to say with any degree of certainty that he will be playing against the Eagles.

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Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

RGIII is finally getting another chance to play.

Plagued by injury after injury — most recently breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Eagles in their season opener — the former Redskin is set to start for Cleveland against the Bengals on Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

Griffin was cleared for contact last week after missing the majority of the Browns’ 0-12 season, and the team is coming off a bye week after its last loss to the Giants over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2015, Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin as starting quarterback, and the Redskins released him at the end of the season. He signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland in March.  

In Griffin’s absence, the Browns have relied on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, who boast a 65.5 and 54.5 completion percentage, respectively. The two combine for just 12 touchdowns this season.

Will Griffin be the key to ending the Browns’ winless season? We’ll find out Sunday.

MORE NFL: Trent Williams is back but shed little light on suspension