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Need to Know: Redskins, NFL get ready to embark on a busy March

Need to Know: Redskins, NFL get ready to embark on a busy March

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 2, eight days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

NFL calendar over the coming week

The NFL is moving into March and the business season starts to pick up the pace. Here’s a look at the league calendar over the coming weeks.

Today—At 4 p.m., the deadline to designate franchise players passes. This has no direct effect on the Redskins; they are not going to tag anyone. But there is some interest throughout the NFC East. The Cowboys are certain to hit wide receiver Dez Bryant with the tag. Giants defense end Jason Pierre-Paul also will get tagged according to some reports that came out last month. And keep an eye on the Eagles where there are conflicting reports on whether wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will get the tag or be allowed to test the free agent market.

Saturday—At midnight the so-called “legal tampering period” begins and teams can talk to agents about contracts for free agents from other teams. It’s called that to separate it from the illegal tampering period, which has been going on since before the NFL Combine. Players can’t talk to teams during this period and contracts can’t be finalized but agents can gauge the market and formulate a game plan for the start of free agency.

March 10—The league year starts at 4 p.m. Even though it’s not technically legal, expect to hear reports of free agent signings throughout the day. How active will the Redskins be under new GM Scot McCloughan? Although he has expressed a philosophy of building through the draft and a general distain for free agency it appears that the Redskins will have to fill a few holes in the open market.

Teams must be under the 2015 salary cap by the start of free agency. The Redskins have no issue here. After a few moves late last week they are about $25 million under the cap. As of today only the Patriots ($7.6 million over) and Saints ($20.9 million over) have work to do to get under the cap.

March 22-25—The owners meetings take place in Phoenix. The rules committee is usually the focus here and this will be no different this year. The Calvin Johnson rule over what is a catch, known in some parts of Texas as the Dez Bryant rule, will be scrutinizes but some are saying it is going to be tough to make substantial changes to it. They also will look at the possibility of expanding the playoffs to 14 teams, expanding the roster to 55 players, eliminating the inactive list for Thursday night games, and other changes.

Looking ahead to next month, the Redskins can start their offseason workout programs on April 20 and the first round of the NFL draft will get underway in prime time on April 30.

Timeline

—It’s been 64 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 195 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 8; Redskins offseason workouts start 49; 2015 NFL Draft 59

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

As Jay Gruden stepped to the podium to read the injury report, he warned, “This will be a while.”

He was right, as he rattled off one the longest injury reports of the season.

Out were G Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion), DE Chris Baker (ankle), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Anthony Lanier (lower leg), G Shawn Lauvao (groin), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (illness).

Of that group, all but Jean Francois, Lanier, and Nsekhe are starters. Between them and the limited players listed below it was difficult for the Redskin to conduct a normal practice.

“It was a challenge,” said Gruden of getting through it. “Practice was modified quite a bit today. We did more walkthrough today than we ever have on a Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you have to taper back just a hair to make it through practice, try to get the mental reps in with walkthrough and then hopefully the physical part will come maybe tomorrow. Friday we can open them up a bit.”

Limited in practice were TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and TE Derek Carrier (knee).

Reed returned to practice for the first time since suffering a Grade 3 sprain to the AC joint in his left shoulder in the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He missed the game in Arizona. While his limited participation was a good sign for his return it’ is way too early in the week to say with any degree of certainty that he will be playing against the Eagles.

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Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

RGIII is finally getting another chance to play.

Plagued by injury after injury — most recently breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Eagles in their season opener — the former Redskin is set to start for Cleveland against the Bengals on Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

Griffin was cleared for contact last week after missing the majority of the Browns’ 0-12 season, and the team is coming off a bye week after its last loss to the Giants over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2015, Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin as starting quarterback, and the Redskins released him at the end of the season. He signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland in March.  

In Griffin’s absence, the Browns have relied on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, who boast a 65.5 and 54.5 completion percentage, respectively. The two combine for just 12 touchdowns this season.

Will Griffin be the key to ending the Browns’ winless season? We’ll find out Sunday.

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