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Need to Know: Redskins step into spoiler role

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Need to Know: Redskins step into spoiler role

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 22, the day the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

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When you have nothing to play for, you find something to play for.

Although a Redskins win won’t help them in any way involving the NFL standings—they have locked up last place in the NFC East—they nevertheless have to play the game so they might as well find a reason to win it. Here are a five of them:

1. They can do severe damage to the Cowboys’ chances of making the playoffs. A Redskins win would set up a scenario where the Eagles would clinch the division with a Sunday night win over the Bears. If you can’t impact your own playoff chances, the next best thing would be to damage those of a division rival.

2. If there is anybody for whom the players would like to “win one” it’s London Fletcher. He is universally admired and respected by the team and a win in his last game at FedEx Field would be the perfect going away present.

3. It may be that Daniel Snyder has already made up his mind and Mike Shanahan is out no matter what happens in these last two games. But if the owner is still teetering, a win could bolster his chances of staying. It seems that the players all want Shanahan to stay—Fletcher and DeAngelo Hall both gave him endorsements this week—and a win just might help Shanahan get another year.

4. If they aren’t playing for Shanahan’s job perhaps they are playing for their own jobs. There are only a handful of players on the roster who aren’t unrestricted free agents or who wouldn’t be able to be released with more than minimal impact on the salary cap. In short, much of the team is working on a two-game contract. If that’s not incentive to play well, nothing is.

5. Finally how about winning one for the fans at FedEx Field? The Shanahan era has brought many more home losses than wins. They are 11-20 at home since 2010 and 2-5 this season. And since there is always a strong presence of fans dressed up in blue and silver when the Cowboys come to town the Redskins may need to stay out in front to avoid this sounding like a road game.

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In case you missed it

Sunday 12.15

Monday 12.16

Tuesday 12.17

Wednesday 12.18

Thursday 12.19

Friday 12.20

Saturday 12.21

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Risk vs reward when Redskins consider Alabama LB Reuben Foster in NFL Draft

Risk vs reward when Redskins consider Alabama LB Reuben Foster in NFL Draft

An undeniable talent, Reuben Foster seemed for months to be a lock for the Top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Alabama star is a sure tackler, playmaking force and winner of the 2016 Dick Butkus Award as the nation's best college linebacker.

The actual football season went great for Foster, he logged 115 tackles and was named the SEC Championship Game MVP. Since play on the field stopped, things have stalled. Foster had an unfortunate incident at the NFL Combine, where he was sent home after an altercation with a hospital worker. In the time since, it's come out Foster tested positive for a diluted urine sample and will enter the NFL in the substance abuse program. 

Still, despite a tough two months, Foster's talent is too rich to pass up for some NFL teams. And per NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, the Redskins could be that team

In his mock draft released Wednesday, Zierlein predicts Foster's draft day slide to end with Washington at the 17th pick. From NFL.com:

Foster could fall due to off-field concerns and worries about injuries, but he fits a need for the Redskins, bringing a tough playmaker into the fold.

Beyond the diluted sample and the combine altercation, Foster also has had stinger issues throughout his career at 'Bama. He has elite speed at the linebacker position and the type of athleticism defensive coordinators dream about, though some pro scouts question if he can handle the calls of a Mike linebacker in the NFL game.

The Redskins are not desperate for interior linebacker help, this season. The team added Zach Brown in free agency, re-signed 2016 defensive captain Will Compton earlier this week and Mason Foster remains under contract. All three players, however, are headed to free agency in 2018. Adding Foster would provide depth this year and a potential star in the future.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Final Redskins seven-round mock draft: Defense first, a surprise in the third

Final Redskins seven-round mock draft: Defense first, a surprise in the third

We’re a day away from the start of the NFL draft and all the questions surrounding the Redskins’ intentions will start to get answered when they go on the clock at about 10 p.m. on Thursday.

[More Redskins: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Speaking at the team’s annual pre-draft news conference, Scott Campbell, the team’s director of college scouting, stuck with the company line when he was asked about making picks based on team needs.

“I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said. “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.”

It would be a big “bonus” for the Redskins if a defensive lineman who can rush the passer and stuff the run was the best player on the board when their first-round pick comes up at No. 17. But it doesn’t look like the board will play out that way. That’s OK because the Redskins have plenty of needs.

In fact, it’s not hard to do a mock draft for the Redskins because they have needs at virtually every position. Certainly, some needs are more urgent than others. But once you get past the first couple of rounds there is enough doubt at each position, whether it’s immediate depth or possible free agency holes in 2018, to get that need “bonus” with every pick.

Campbell said that this is a strong defensive draft and this is reflected in these mock selections, with six of the 10 picks going to defense including the top two. The first offensive pick may surprise some but the talent was just too good at that point in the draft.

Go here to see the full seven-round mock draft.

Your comments are welcome, as always. Make them here in the comments or hit me up on Twitter and Facebook.  

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.