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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Ravens—Is it a rivalry?

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Ravens—Is it a rivalry?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 5, four days before the Washington Redskins go up the road to play the Ravens in Baltimore.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:00; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Lions 18; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 25

First thoughts on Redskins vs. Ravens

—Every leap year the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. gets decided and the debate about whether or not the Redskins-Ravens series is a rivalry is hashed out. I don’t think that it is a rivalry for the players. If the players don’t get worked up over a game against the Cowboys any more than they do any other divisional game it’s hard to see how they would get overly excited about playing an AFC team just because it’s 40 miles up the road. Some fans get worked up about it so there’s that. But if call this a “rivalry” you have to come up with another word for events like Auburn-Alabama, where as far as the fans are concerned there is that game and the 364 days until the next one. There is a bit more juice to the atmosphere surrounding the game because of the geographical proximity but that's about it.

—Although the Ravens are 3-1, Joe Flacco's numbers indicate that he is struggling so far this season. He has four touchdowns and four interceptions and has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 6.3 yards per attempt. Flacco's passer rating of 79.3 is 26th in the NFL. If you prefer more advanced analysis his DVOA is 31st in the league. But he had helped rally the Ravens to two of their wins and that is what they are paying him to do. After getting carved up pretty well by two rookie quarterbacks in their first four games, the Redskins won’t sleep on Flacco.

—Justin Forsett was released yesterday, a good sign the running back Kenneth Dixon, the Ravens’ fourth-round pick this year, is ready to make his NFL debut. He has missed the first four games with an MCL strain. He should get some carries but the prime back will be Terrance West, who gained 113 yards on 21 carries against the Raiders last week. That was a career high for the third-year veteran and his second career 100-yard rushing game. So we’ll see if he can do it again. And yes, against the Redskins’ 30th- ranked rushing defense take the over.

—So far this year the Ravens are a top-10 defense, perhaps even top five. They are first in total yards allowed, third in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards. Going again to the advanced stats, they are fourth in the NFL in defensive DVOA. They have nine sacks, one more than the Redskins, and Terrell Suggs, despite that fact that he is nearly 34 and coming off of a torn Achilles, has three of them. It will be tough to move the ball against them.

—Speaking of ageless wonders, WR Steve Smith is 37, also coming off of an Achilles tear, and he is leading the team in receptions (24) and receiving yards (281). Will the Redskins have Josh Norman trail him like he did Odell Beckham and Terrelle Pryor? It may depend on if Bashaud Breeland is ready to return from his ankle injury. If he can go they might just play sides. If not, they might not trust Quinton Dunbar to be able to cover Smith. In any case, they could start off playing sides and see how it goes, moving Norman with Smith if it becomes necessary.

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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]