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Need to Know: Is Jackson's absence from some Redskins OTAs an issue?

Need to Know: Is Jackson's absence from some Redskins OTAs an issue?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 26, 63 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 137 days ago. It will be 109 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 63; Preseason opener @ Falcons 77; Final roster cut 100

Hot topic—DeSean’s absent (again)

It’s becoming an annual event around Ashburn—sorting out whether or not fans should be upset that DeSean Jackson was absent for part of voluntary OTAs.

Jackson was not present at Wednesday’s OTA session, the first one that was open to the media. According to reports he did not attend on Tuesday either and his attendance at the offseason program, which started last month, has been sporadic.

His absence did not bother the quarterback. “He knows what is best for him and what he needs to get ready for the fall,” said Kirk Cousins.

Jackson not being there did not seem to particularly rattle his head coach either. “He’s been in the league nine years, he knows what he has to do,” said Gruden.

Head coaches need to be very careful about what they say about attendance during the offseason program. As noted, showing up is voluntary and anything a coach said that can perceived as putting pressure on a player to show up can be frowned upon by the players union. So if Gruden is unhappy he probably wouldn’t say much about it.

When the Redskins signed Jackson in 2014 they knew what they were getting. He wasn’t big on showing up at offseason workout when he was with the Eagles and there was no reason to believe that he would change.

But it appears that Jackson would have some legitimate incentive to attend the workouts this year. For one thing there was a pretty strong financial incentive in the form of a $500,000 workout bonus. The past tense is used there because he already has missed too many workouts to be able to qualify for it.

There also is the fact that last year was the worst of his career. He missed six games with a hamstring injury and he had career lows in receptions (30) and receiving yards (528). The injury happened early in the first game of the season after he had spotty attendance at OTAs and was out for most of training camp and all of the preseason games with a shoulder injury.

There is no definitive link between his relatively light workload leading up to the season opener and the hamstring issue. But after the injury last fall he admitted that there may have been. So why take the chance of having another lost season due to injuries? Why not just show up in Ashburn, do the work, collect your $500K and take your vacation from mid-June until training camp starts in late July. That puts more money in your pocket and eliminates a relatively light offseason workload as a possible reason if he does get injured.

There also is the age factor. Jackson will be 30 before the season ends. As players age, they need to work harder and harder in the offseason to be able to stay on the field. He can’t maintain the same work habits he had in his twenties and expect to be a productive player in his thirties.

Jackson knows all of this and he chooses to stay away anyway. That’s fine but the caveat is that he had better be ready for the season and he had better get through it injury free. If things don’t work out then in 2017 he could find himself as a 30-year-old free agent with a reputation for being fragile and not willing to put in the work that might help keep him on the field. The workouts being voluntary wouldn’t matter a whole lot to the people writing the checks and,, fair or not, the reputation would cost him a lot of money.

Maybe the worst-case scenario will not come to pass. Maybe he'll do his thing during the offseason, catch 50 passes for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns and cash in with another big contract.

Jackson can make whatever choices he wants to. But he should be wary of the potential consequences of his choices.

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

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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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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