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Need to Know: Five Redskins who have exceeded expectations in 2015

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who have exceeded expectations in 2015

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 30, 9 days before the Redskins visit the New England Patriots.

Five who have exceeded expectations

We all think we have things figured out before the season starts and then they actually start playing and we are surprised. Some players we didn’t expect to contribute much have stepped up to play key roles. Here are five who have exceeded expectations.

S/CB Kysheon Jarrett—He was gong to come in and help out on special teams and maybe play a few snaps a game at safety. But when the team was short on cornerbacks in training camp, the fifth-round pick stepped up and volunteered to help out. Now he is the team’s starting slot corner and playing so well that there are legitimate questions over what do to with him when the veteran corners are healthy.

WR Jamison Crowder—He was going to be the punt returner while learning to be a wide receiver. But he is third on the team in both catches (32) and receiving yards (292). If he catches 18 more passes over the remaining nine games he will be the first Redskins rookie to record 50 receptions in a season since Art Monk in 1980.

DE Chris Baker—The Redskins signed Stephen Paea to a healthy free agent contact and that was supposed to push Baker into a reserve role. But Baker has been getting more action from the start of the season; he has 238 snaps in seven games to 104 for Paea in six. And he has made plays, posting 3.5 sacks to tie for the team lead, forcing two fumbles and recovering one.

RB Chris Thompson—Could he stay healthy enough to make the team? And what would he be able to do if he made it? He stayed on the field throughout the offseason and training camp, made the team and has done a solid job as the third-down and passing situations back.

K Dustin Hopkins—There was an uproar when Kai Forbath was released and Hopkins, who had not yet put his instep to a football in an NFL game that counted, was signed. But, though a small sample size, Hopkins has proven to be just as accurate as the kicker he replaced; his only miss cam from over 50 yards, a distance from which Forbath rarely even tried. His kickoffs boom into the end zone with great frequency, but that’s a standard expectation for an NFL kicker these days. His “magic” onside kicks are just a bonus.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Bye week

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 9; Saints @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Panthers 23

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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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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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