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Need to Know: Redskins getting players to buy in to special teams


Need to Know: Redskins getting players to buy in to special teams

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 29, 25 days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

—There was very little down time in special teams practices at Redskins Park. “We’re able to break up and [Special Teams Coordinator] Ben [Kotwica] does an outstanding job of utilizing everybody and getting the most out of his 10-15 minute allotments,” said Jay Gruden. “You see guys running around, all types of different areas, working tackling drills, cover drills, punting, kicking, protection, all that. You get all that taken care of and in order to do that, assistant coaches have to be part of it.” Gruden said that the process is helping to get players to buy in to the importance of special teams. The fact that has to be done is not good but it is a good sign that the team might have a good chance of turning it around on specials teams this year.

—We heard the word “multiple” used a lot regarding the offense, by Gruden and by Robert Griffin III in particular. “But after that, I think the good thing about our offense right now is we have multiple threats and the biggest key will be to distribute the ball, try to distribute it evenly and make sure everybody feels a part of the offense,” said Gruden. “Jordan Reed has had a great camp. Pierre [Garçon] had a great day today. DeSean [Jackson] has done his thing. Andre Roberts has done good things. There’s been other players. Ryan Grant had some big plays today. Alfred Morris is going to do his thing in the running game. [Roy] Helu has made some big plays. So it’s just a matter of getting people involved and getting excited about the game plan and knowing every play, there could be somebody different that could hurt you.”

—We’re hearing a lot about the defense becoming more aggressive and putting more of an emphasis on rushing the passer. This doesn’t just apply to the linebackers; it applies to the line as well. “We expect big things out of Chris and Jarvis, and they’re doing a much better job of getting off blocks and transitioning from a run-type of front to a pass rush on the playactions,” said Gruden. “Everybody down there, from all those defensive tackles, linemen are doing a good job. [Defensive end Kedric] Golston’s doing a good job - they’re all rushing the passer a lot better. They’re still maintaining their run gaps and playing good run defense also at their pad level but transitioning from a run-style stance to a pass rush isn’t easy for a lot of people but our guys are doing a good job.”

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—It’s been 182 days since the Redskins played a game; in 70 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Training camp 25; Preseason opener vs. Patriots 39; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 77

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Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!


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Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.