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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, September 13, the day the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Five final thoughts about Redskins vs. Dolphins

—Jay Gruden knows about the schemes of Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle from Gruden’s days with the Bengals. They crossed paths as Coyle was the Cincinnati defensive backs coach during Gruden's first year as offensive coordinator there. Then after Coyle left to become run the defense in Miami, the Bengals played the Dolphins once in each of the next two years. But the addition of a dominant free agent takes away some of that familiarity edge. “But then you add a piece like [Ndamukong] Suh and it could change things drastically for your defense, the calls and what you are doing in short yardage and goal line,” said Gruden. “That’s something we’re trying to prepare for, a lot of different looks and assuming what they’re going to do.” Gruden said that adjustments will have to be made on the fly and the young right side of the offensive line will be challenged.

—Injuries will not be a factor, at least not coming in. The only player listed as doubtful is Dolphins backup tackle Jason Fox (concussion). Washington has two backup players, OT Tom Compton (calf) and OLB Jackson Jeffcoat (thigh), listed as questionable. All of the others on the report are probable, including Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert.

—Rookie Jamison Crowder will return punts for the Redskins. His only punt return in NFL competition consists of him fielding a punt during the Ravens preseason game and promptly slipping to the ground. What I’ll be watching for with him is if he makes good decisions on fielding the ball. Does he know when he should field a punt and when to back off? Can he determine when he should fair catch and when he should run it back? Popping a 40-yard return is nice but the wrong decisions on other punts during the course of the game can give back all of that field position and then some.

—Two underrated Dolphins offensive weapons are running back Lamar Miller and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Miller rushed for 1,099 yards last year on only 216 carries, an impressive 5.1 yards per play. Included in his body of work was a 97-yard touchdown run against the Jets. Landry is not a deep threat; he averaged just 9.0 yards per catch and his longest reception covered just 25 yards. But he is the player Ryan Tannehill goes to to move the chains and 48 of his 84 receptions resulted in first downs. Slot corner Justin Rogers will be primarily responsible for covering him.

—Looking back at the first point, the Redskins have a similar advantage on defense in that they have a new coordinator in Joe Barry and five new starters from last year. Among those new starters is Terrance Knighton, who gives the Redskins a true nose tackle for the first time since they started running the 3-4 defense in 2010. He may not have the impact of Suh but he is a very important addition. Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor (who was the Redskins’ QB coach during the Gibbs II era) really doesn’t know what to expect. The Redskins’ preseason schemes were of the traditional August vanilla variety and the Dolphins will have to figure out on the fly how aggressive the defensive front will be shooting the gaps and how Barry will utilize the pass rushers he has at his disposal.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Dolphins, 1 p.m., FedEx Field

—It’s been 259 days since the Redskins played a game. They play the Dolphins at FedEx Field today.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 11; Eagles @ Redskins 21

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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