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Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up

Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 11, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Nickel coverage

Yesterday, we looked at five Redskins who have exceeded expectations in the 2013 season. Today, it’s five who need to step up if the Redskins are going to make something of themselves in the second half of the season.

1. Shortly after the 2013 season ended, Josh Morgan visited the doctor and had a bunch of hardware removed from the foot he broke while he was with the 49ers in 2011. He feels better than he did last year but his production doesn’t show it. His snaps have declined and he has just 11 receptions for 124 yards on the year.

2. All offseason long we heard how Brandon Meriweather would become a force in the defense once he was healthy. But he’s played every snap since Week 3 with the exception of the Broncos game and his impact has been minimal. On top of that there is no real indication that he has learned to refrain from the headhunting that cost on that one-game suspension. You get the feeling that the next hit could make him a spectator for multiple games.

3. Defensive ends in a 3-4 are supposed to do a lot of the dirty work and don’t necessarily have to make a lot of plays to be effective. But still it would be good to see more out of Stephen Bowen that shows up in the stats. He hasn’t had a full sack since December 18, 2011 against the Giants (he had two half sacks last year, none this year). There are 11 tackles to his credit. Bowen has one of the 10 highest cap numbers on the team and the Redskins should be getting a little more for their money.

4. Speaking of top-10 cap numbers, Chris Chester is a member of that club and the Redskins are not getting their money’s worth out of him. According to Pro Football Focus Chester is the lowest-rated player on the Redskins’ offense. He has allowed 27 QB hurries, more than any two other members of the offensive line combined. He also leads the team with four offensive holding penalties.

5. Robert Griffin III has been up and down this year and, looking from the beginning of the season, he’s been more down than up. The knee injury undoubtedly has been a factor but if he’s taking the snaps, he needs to get that job done.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins have been hit with 17 offensive holding penalties in their nine games. Last year they had just 21 in 16 games.

Timeline

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 6; Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 14; Giants @ Redskins 20

Today’s schedule: Player availability 11:15; Practice 1:00 (open to the media for first 30 minutes); After practice (approx. 3:00) Mike Shanahan news conference, telecast on Comcast SportsNet

In case you missed it

Chances of a 2012 repeat seem slim

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

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.