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Need to Know: Gruden, Redskins may not get 4th QB for camp

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Need to Know: Gruden, Redskins may not get 4th QB for camp

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 17, 74 days before the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, VA.

Nickel coverage

Five notes and quotes from rookie minicamp on Saturday:

—Gruden believes that there is no pressing need to find a fourth quarterback after rookie free agent Connor Halliday decided to give up football. “Well, we brought in two quarterbacks here to look at for that fourth spot, but there’s no law that says we have to bring four,” Gruden said. “We have three guys who are going to really fight for every rep as it is, so in a way it’s not bad to have three.” Hutson Mason of Georgia and Anthony Neyer of USC are the two QBs trying out.

—What happened to Halliday, whom GM Scot McCloughan scouted pretty heavily? Gruden was light on details. “Connor, I can’t speak for the decision that he made,” he said. “He just chose to jump on a plane and head to the house. I haven’t had a chance to talk with him yet. He just left me a voice message, but I’m sure he had personal reasons behind it.”

—Gruden is very impressed after working with new offensive line coach Bill Callahan. “He’s detailed, for sure, and he’s a grinder,” he said. “That’s two things about him that are two great qualities, and our line needs it. They’re going to work their butts off, not only on the practice field, but in the classroom. And every drill, every waking moment they’re awake and they’re in this building and out on this practice field, he’s going to be in their ear, working them. And they’re going to get better as a result.” That last part is what everyone is looking for.

—Gruden likes what he has seen out of Arie Kouandjio and it looks like they plan to test him in training camp. “Kouandjio is a detailed guy,” he said. “He loves football, man. He practices hard. He wants to hear every ounce of criticism, every ounce of coaching that he can get and he tries to translate that onto the next rep . . . Come training camp time, we’re going to have [Stephen] Paea go against him one time and then here comes [Jason] Hatcher. It’s going to be some tough days for him.”

—Gruden likes the way that Blake Sims, who quarterbacked Alabama to the national championship playoff semifinals last year but is trying out as a running back, has translated his scrambling ability to the running back position. “He runs a little upright, but he’s got some natural running ability,” he said. “You saw that in college at the quarterback position. When he breaks contain, I never, ever saw the first guy tackle the guy. He always made the first guy miss and the second guy miss and he always got the four or five yards needed for the first down.”

Timeline

—It’s been 140 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 119 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 30; Redskins training camp starts 74; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 130

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

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A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”