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Need to Know: Is Reed pushing Davis out?

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Need to Know: Is Reed pushing Davis out?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, September 19, three days before the Redskins play the Lions at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

1. The Redskins have their kicker health issues but the Lions seem to be the less healthy of the two teams. Three Lions starters didn't practice on Wednesday—Reggie Bush (left knee), FS Louis Delmas (knee) and RT Jason Fox (groin). The absence of Bush would be a big blow to the Lions’ offense; they had difficulty moving the ball when he left the game after hurting his knee last Sunday against the Cardinals.

2. I gave you some incomplete information here yesterday. I said that the last team to start a season 0-2 and still make the playoffs was the 2008 San Diego Chargers. That same year the Vikings started 0-2 but finished the season 10-6 to take the NFC North. And the ’08 Dolphins also went winless in their first two games but rallied to finish 11-5 and take the AFC East title.

3. I think the defense has bigger issues but the offense is a little ways off. Here’s what Robert Griffin III said:

“I feel like, just as a group, we’ve all been off a little bit. We’ll figure that out and we’ll get it going. We’ve been hitting in practice, in the games at times we are hitting, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem. It’s showing up, especially on third down, we just have got to execute better and we will.”

4. A week ago Jim Haslett was a bit testy during his weekly press conference last week (although it wasn’t a potential Coors Light commercial as some outlets inferred). After another game where his defense got torched, it will be interesting to see if his mood has improved.

5. Is Fred Davis being relegated to a reserve role? It’s too soon to tell but the situation bears watching Against the Packers he played just 16 snaps while rookie Jordan Reed played 29. Shanahan was asked why and he spoke generically but it was clear why Reed got the call and Davis watched most of the game.

“Most of the decisions we make are based on how people practice and what gives us the best opportunity to win. So if a guy goes into those situations, it means that he’s done a great job during the week and we feel like he deserved that opportunity. Or it could be a guy drops a ball during a game, the other’s guy is hot, and you go in that direction. There are a lot of factors that are involved. You’re trying to do what you think gives you the best chance to win.”


Stat of the day

—On average the Redskins have started their possession on their own 22-yard line; their opponents have started their drives at the 33.

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Timeline

—Former Redskins running back Larry Brown was born on this day in 1947

—Days until: Lions @ Redskins 3; Redskins @ Raiders 10; Redskins @ Cowboys 24

—Today’s schedule: Player availability in locker room 11:15; Jim Haslett press conference 12:00; Practice 1:00 (closed to media after first 30 minutes); Kyle Shanahan and Mike Shanahan news conferences after practice (approx. 3:00; streamed on CSNwashington.com)

Shanahan: There’s room for everybody to improve

In case you missed it

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

More Redskins: When the talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags before

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When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, Aqib Talib has a long and checkered past, which includes multiple arrests and failed PED and drug tests. The problems aren't new either, the talented cornerback was first arrested as a high school student. In college at Kansas, Talib was suspended multiple times and had multiple positive tests for marijuana use. 

Why does this matter for Redskins fans on the eve of the NFL Draft?

Despite all the trouble, Bruce Allen drafted Talib 20th overall in 2008 when the current Redskins general manager was in the same role for Tampa. While Talib's legal troubles and suspensions continued in the NFL, he also proved to be a highly capable cornerback in the pro game. 

The lesson for those trying to determine the Redskins draft board: Allen might be willing to look past red flags if a player presents good value. Talib did in 2008, and there could be opportunities for Washington in 2017.

Reuben Foster jumps to mind, as the talented Alabama linebacker will enter the league in the substance abuse program. While Foster's issues pale in comparison to other allegations about some draft prospects, players like Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley will also present unique circumstances for NFL teams to evaluate. 

GMs are thrust into the unenviable task of determining a player's character, often in short periods of time. As 'Skins director of college scouting Scott Campbell explained, the team grades every player for their football skills first, and only later adds in character information. From Campbell's comments:

When you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don’t factor in the character. You don’t grade character, you grade talent. So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have some redeeming quality, or there’s a side to the story you don’t know about. You grade football players as football players first on talent, and then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.

Thursday night the Redskins will be forced to make a determination on the right player for the team. That decision could include judging a player's character, and that could mean balancing legal or substance abuse troubles with talent and ability.

Talib is only one pick in Allen's long personnel career, but it's one worth noting. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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