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Need to Know: Redskins' Smith enjoys his pro debut

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Need to Know: Redskins' Smith enjoys his pro debut

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 16, four days before Washington Redskins play the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field.

Smith enjoys his pro debut

RICHMOND—The Redskins drafted Preston Smith in the second round, hoping that the Mississippi State product would battle Trent Murphy for the starting job at right outside linebacker. Perhaps Smith would come off of the bench but he was expected to be a major part of the team’s pass rush.

But then the team signed Junior Galette, who had 22 sacks the last two years playing for the Saints. With Smith having some rookie struggles in practice, his role on the team was quite up in the air.

That was before the Redskins’ preseason opener against the Browns last Thursday. Smith started the game in place of the resting Ryan Kerrigan. The rookie recorded a team-high six tackles and a sack.

“It felt great out there to get our feet wet, to finally get a first sack in an NFL game especially in a preseason game, my first NFL game,” he said after the game. “It was a great feeling to go out there and finally string some pass-rush together and get a sack and get home to the quarterback.”

It should be noted that Smith’s sack came late in the third quarter against Browns players who are vying for practice squad jobs. Still, the fact it gives him a confidence boost is a positive.

As noted, the depth chart at outside linebacker is crowded with Kerrigan, who just signed a big contract extension, Galette, and Murphy and Smith, the team’s last two second-round draft picks. Kerrigan is going to play nearly every snap so the other three will have to find a way to get on the field.

Smith really doesn’t have much to worry about if he can get the job done. If he can rush the passer against front-line blockers they will find a way to get him on the field in passing situations. It’s possible that all four of the outside backers will be on for some nickel plays, perhaps with Murphy lining up on the inside and Smith on the line in a three-point stance.

The Redskins had 36 sacks last year, tied for 21st in the NFL. Over a quarter of those sacks, 10, came in one game against the Jaguars. They are looking to get to the quarterback more consistently this year. It will be up to new defensive coordinator Joe Barry to utilize the talent on the roster to make that happen and Smith could be a big part of it.

Timeline

—Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was born on this date in 1988.

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:35 a.m.; Practice 3:05 p.m.

—It’s been 231 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 28 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Lions @ Redskins 4; final cuts 20; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 39

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The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:

  1. The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
  2. It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
  3. Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous. 
  4. While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.

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

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - How freaked out should Redskins fans be after Arizona loss?

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New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - How freaked out should Redskins fans be after Arizona loss?

JP Finlay and Rich Tandler address the most important question for Redskins fans after two straight losses - is it time to freak out?

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!