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Need to Know: Redskins 2015 regular season superlatives

Need to Know: Redskins 2015 regular season superlatives

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 5, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers in a wild card playoff game.

Redskins 2015 regular season superlatives

Before we dive head first into the playoffs let’s take a look back at the 2015 season. As you know, most major sports awards are decided after the end of the regular season but before the playoffs start. Let’s pass out a little Redskins hardware here based on the 2015 regular season.

Offensive player of the year: Kirk Cousins—The hotter he has gotten over the past couple of months, the better the team has played. His most impressive stat this year was his 69.8 percent completion rate. It was the seventh best season a quarterback has had in that stat category ever. Honorable mentions: Jordan Reed, Trent Williams

Offensive newcomer of the year: Brandon Scherff—He was every bit as good as advertised. If he keep improving over the next year or two nobody will care that the Redskins used the fifth overall pick on a guard. He missed two snaps all year, one against the Bears and one against the Cowboys on Monday night. Honorable mention: Jamison Crowder

Defensive player of the year: Chris Baker—There were a lot of ways to go here on a defense that didn’t have any real stars and was in constant turmoil due to injuries. But Baker was steady throughout, getting six sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, and setting an infectious attitude on the defense. Honorable mention: Bashaud Breeland

Defensive newcomer of the year: Will Blackmon—He wasn’t even on the team in Week 1 but he turned out to be invaluable to the secondary. Blackmon started 10 games and played some nickel. His presence allowed the team to move DeAngelo Hall to safety. Blackmon put on one of his best performances on Sunday. In the second half he picked off a pass with the Cowboys in a goal to go situation. Later he poked the ball out of Darren McFadden’s arm as he was about to score a TD. The ball bounced out of the end zone and the Redskins took over after the touchback. Honorable mention: Preston Smith, Kyshoen Jarrett.

Special teams player and newcomer of the year: Dustin Hopkins—Another player who wasn’t on the Week 1 roster. They wanted a kicker who could pound the ball into the end zone consistently and they found one in Hopkins. He booted 65 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks and he was No. 8 in the league in net kickoff distance. Hopkins was solid on field goals as well, converting on 25 of 28 with two of his misses coming from 50-plus yards, kicks they likely would even have attempted before signing Hopkins. Honorable mention: Tress Way

Agree? Disagree? Dive into the comments and let me know!

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Redskins vs. Packers in wild card playoff game 5; Super Bowl 50 33

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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

A video posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

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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).”