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Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Bills

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Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Bills

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 27, seven days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 players.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day, no availability

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 230 days ago. It will be 16 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 22; Browns @ Redskins 36; Redskins @ Ravens 43

Stock up-Stock down vs. Bills

Here is who gained ground in the Redskins’ preseason win over the Bills and who slipped.

UpZiggy Hood has gone from a longshot to make the roster to a virtual lock. He helped his case tonight with a sack of Tyrod Taylor and some impressive run stops.

DownRashad Ross returned both punts and kickoffs. On one of the few opportunities he got he muffed the ball and in the ensuing scramble teammate Quinton Dunbar was injured. He’s safe on the roster but his chance of winning the punt return job may be gone, at least for now.

Up—Jay Gruden said that he could “feel” the presence of Preston Smith from the sideline, disrupting plays and setting the edge. That some very high praise and an indication that Smith could be on the verge of a true breakout season.

DownKory Lichtensteiger did not have a good week. The team traded for his possible successor in Bryan Stork and then he went out and drew three penalties.

UpRobert Kelley had a good night (12 carries for 51 yards) when he needed it, probably locking up a spot on the 53-man roster.

DownMatt Ioannidis didn’t play his way off of the 53 but he was mostly invisible with no solo tackles and three assists.

Up—Like Hood, Greg Toler was supposed to be on the outside looking in when it came to making the 53. But he has played well enough to force his way on and he recovered a fumble that Will Blackmon forced to set up a touchdown.

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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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.