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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must come through to beat the Ravens

Need to Know: Five Redskins who must come through to beat the Ravens

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, October 8, one day before the Washington Redskins go up the road to play the Ravens in Baltimore.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park, no media availability

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Lions 15; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 22

Five Redskins who must come through to beat the Ravens

QB Kirk Cousins—As noted a couple of weeks ago, Cousins has a permanent spot on this list until he has a couple of late 2015-style games in a row. He wasn’t bad against the Browns with three touchdown passes but he had that head-scratching interception and the offense mostly disappeared on the second and third quarter. The Washington defense is not suddenly going to morph into a top-10 unit; the pressure will be on the offense to win games. The Redskins are going to have to put up about 28 points to beat the Ravens and Cousins will need to be on point.

WR DeSean Jackson—The Redskins aren’t going to beat the Ravens with a bunch of 10-12 play drives. Baltimore is too good defensively and the Redskins have a tendency to stall drives themselves with penalties. They will need Jackson to connect with Cousins to  get a couple of big chunks of yardage to move things along.

OLB Preston Smith—He was on this list last week and, like Cousins, he will remain on it in Sharpie until he comes thorough with a couple of games like he had in the latter stages of last year. There is no better time for Smith to get his first sack of the year than this Sunday. With Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley likely out with a foot injury Smith could line up against Alex Lewis, a rookie guard who would slide out to left tackle. Smith has been close with four quarterback hits and six hurries. He needs to find that extra half step and maybe going up against Lewis will give him the edge he needs to get going.

ILB Will Compton—Compton is the chess player, adjusting the defense as the offense shifts and shows some keys. The defense has struggled in two games against rookie quarterbacks and now they go up against Joe Flacco, who has 141 games under his belt including 15 in the playoffs. Compton will need to get the defense aligned properly and while he’s at it he needs to up his own level of play. He has 15 solo tackles in four games, not enough for the Mike linebacker spot.

CB Quinton Dunbar—With Bashaud Breeland on the shelf for another game Dunbar steps into the starting lineup again. If the Redskins have Josh Norman trailing Steve Smith then Dunbar will often match up against speedy Mike Wallace. If they don’t trail and just play sides then Dunbar will get his share of matchups with Smith. In either case he has to play sound football and prevent the big play against Flacco, who likes to launch passes downfield.

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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]