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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Ravens—'Next man up' comes up big

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Ravens—'Next man up' comes up big

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 11, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Lions 12; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 19

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Ravens Next man up comes up big

—In 2013 the Redskins special teams were a disaster, the worst in the league by a long shot. Enter Ben Kotwica and in 2014 the kicking units were merely bad. Last year they made a few negative plays but the team did score three special teams touchdowns, albeit in blowout losses. Now, in 2016, the special teams have been excellent (fourth in the NFL through Week 4 per DVOA) and yesterday they got a punt return for a touchdown that was the difference in the game. The gradual improvement is a tribute to Kotwica and to the Redskins for sticking by him through some tough times, realizing he had a huge task when he got here after the disasters of 2013.

—One under discussed area of improvement for the Redskins on Sunday was in penalties. There were four accepted penalties against them for 46 yards. The majority of the yards, 26 of them, came on a very shaky pass interference call against Will Compton. It didn’t look like there was any contact with the receiver until the ball arrived. There were no false starts called against the offensive line during the road game; the only flag for that infraction was drawn by wide receiver Jamison Crowder. Like many other aspects of the team's performance both good and bad this is a week to week thing but still a positive thing to note.

—There were 16 players who participated in at least a third of the defensive snaps against the Ravens. Of those, seven played little or not at all during the season opener against the Steelers. Some, like Will Blackmon and Kendall Fuller, were inactive. Others, like Greg Toler and Quinton Dunbar, played only on special teams. Matt Ioannidis was on the practice squad and Cullen Jenkins wasn’t even on the team. You hear “next man up” all the time; this is that mantra in action and with solid results.

—I never thought for a second that Marc Trestman would be the savior of the Bears and I was unimpressed when the Ravens brought him on board as their offensive coordinator. He always seemed to want to out-clever the opposition rather than just designing a solid scheme and calling it well during a game. Not only did he abandon a running game that was working well in the first quarter, he stayed away from it even though it worked well even as the Ravens ran very little (8 carries, 44 yards, 5.5 average in last three quarters). The Ravens are better off without him.

—Redskins fans should be used to their team winning close games, at least when they're not playing a certain hated division foe. Going back to Week 4 of last season the Redskins have won six out of nine games decided by one score. Two of the three losses, of course, were to the Cowboys, losses the team will not be able to avenge until Thanksgiving Day.

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Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins went into today’s game against the Cardinals somewhat banged up and they exit with a couple of additional injury concerns in the form of concussions.

Center Spencer Long left the game in the second quarter. Initially it was announced that he had been evaluated for a concussion but that he had been cleared. But after halftime the word came down that he had been retested and it was determined that he does have a concussion. Long has entered the concussion protocol.

Veteran John Sullivan, picked up earlier this season when Kory Lichtensteiger went on injured reserve, filled in a center the rest of the way. He is a capable fill-in but if Long is out he would be the only available center. The Redskins might have to sign a center if it looks like Long will be out of action against the Eagles.

In the fourth quarter safety Will Blackmon left the game. According to Redskins coach Jay Gruden he was being evaluated for a concussion and a stinger. His exact status is unknown. Gruden will give more information during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

[MORE: JOSH NORMAN ON HIS CRUCIAL FOURTH-QUARTER PENALTY]

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Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins had a couple of chances to stop what would eventually turn into the Cardinals’ game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter. The first one came when they went for it on fourth and one at their own 34. It was a gutsy call by Arizona coach Bruce Arians and David Johnson make him look smart by popping off a 14-yard run.

The Cards earned that one. But it looked as though they got something of a gift a few plays later when Josh Norman was flagged holding receiver Larry Fitzgerald. It was a borderline call, granting Arizona a gift third and five conversion. Two plays later Carson Palmer went in for the kill, throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson.

On the field, Norman seemed to be none too pleased with the penalty flag. He said after the game that he thinks that Fitzgerald may have stolen a flag.

“He [Fitzgerald] was within five yards. Larry is a wily vet,” said Norman. “I'd been doing it all game, kind of . . . He breaks out and I go for the ball and the flag got thrown. We'd like to see that not happen in that situation because there was some good position, some good leverage. And a flag came out.

“It is what it is. You can't blame a call on that, blame a call on this. It's whatever, man.”

Norman is right. The Redskins blew plenty of chances to take control of the game and the blame can be spread around on both sides of the ball. But the flag will loom large as the Redskins try to shake off this loss and get ready for the Eagles next week.

[MORE: ANGRY JAY GRUDEN SAYS REDSKINS 'NOT EVEN CLOSE' TO THINKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS]