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Need to Know: Redskins' Jordan Reed off to a hot start

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jordan Reed off to a hot start

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, September 28, six days before the Redskins host the Eagles.

Jordan Reed off to a hot start

The Redskins are getting what they need out of Jordan Reed.

Going into yesterday’s games, the third-year tight end led the NFL with 14 receptions for first downs (having played three games with most of the rest of the pass catchers having played two). He has 19 receptions for 241 yards and a touchdown. Over a 16-game season those numbers project to 101 catches for 1,285 yards and five touchdowns.

Reed and Kirk Cousins got together for what was perhaps the team’s most important play so far this season. With the Redskins leading the Rams by just a touchdown and facing third and four in their own territory midway through the fourth quarter. Reed ran an option pattern down the middle, Cousins hit him with a perfect pass and the Redskins had a first down in Rams territory. The went on to score the clinching touchdown.

Reed had a chance to make a couple of other important plays last Thursday against the Giants. Twice in the first half, when the game was still competitive, he beat his defender in the end zone. But Cousins was not as sharp has he had been just a few days earlier and he underthrew both passes. Instead of the score being 15-6 at halftime it could have been 15-14.

And he has improved his weakest area on the field, blocking. “You saw Jordan Reed I think had his best game as a tight end as a blocker by far that I’ve been with him,” said Jay Gruden after the Rams game. “He’s starting to buy in obviously which is huge. They understand that it’s going to open up everything else down the road for us. So far everything has been positive.”

I know exactly what the readers here are thinking—as long as he stays healthy, he’s great. But he can’t stay on the field.

And that’s fair. Going into this season he had been on the Redskins’ roster for 32 games. And he was either on injured reserve or listed on the injury report for 17 of them, over half.

Then when he missed a good chunk of training camp and all but one preseason game with a hamstring, it was “here we go again”. He made it through the season opener but in practice for Week 2 he suffered a pulled quad that had him questionable for the Rams game.

When asked how Reed suffered the injury, Jay Gruden simply said, “Running,” in an exasperated tone of voice. The head coach seemed to be in the “here we go again” frame of mind, too.

But he played against the Rams with no apparent ill effects with six receptions on six targets for 82 yards, including the key play noted above. And he played well four days later against the Giants.

Of course, three games played constitute baby steps. There is still a long way to go. Sometimes players go through their careers an have difficulty staying on the field. Others might start out perpetually injured and then learn how to take care of their bodies better. We will see where Reed falls in that spectrum. In the meantime, he should continue to help the Redskins’ offense.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:45 a.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 12:45

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Falcons 13; Redskins @ Jets 20

 

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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