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Need to Know: Redskins valued Cary Williams' experience

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Need to Know: Redskins valued Cary Williams' experience

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 7, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers in a wild card playoff game.

Five thoughts on the playoff-bound Redskins

—If I had to guess which Redskins running back will be inactive on Sunday I’d say Chris Thompson. He is being hampered by a toe injury and he showed some frustration in practice yesterday. Matt Jones (hip) was limited but he appears to be improving. Toe injuries are tough to overcome quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if Thompson was on the shelf on Sunday.

—The two names to watch on the Packers’ injury list are CB Sam Shields and LT David Bakhatiari. Shields, their top corner and the primary candidate to cover DeSean Jackson, has missed the last three games with a concussion. Bakhatiari’s absence for the last two weeks has created some severe pass protection problems for the Packers; they have been sacked 14 times in that two-game span. Shields and Bakhatiari were two of six Packers who did not practice on Wednesday due to injuries. All 53 Redskins on the roster practiced; five were limited, the rest were a full go.

—There appears to be some hand wringing out there about the return of Kory Lichtensteiger at center. Some are worried about his game shape, others about continuity on the line. But any drawbacks there may be in those aspects are more than compensated for by the improvement in shotgun snaps back to Kirk Cousins. The Redskins were very fortunate that none of Josh LeRibeus’ snaps ended up causing a disaster. On a related note, Brian de la Puente must not have impressed at all to be unable to push LeRibeus aside.

—Jay Gruden said that they brought in CB Cary Williams because the veteran is a plug and play guy. “[We] needed another veteran guy and he fits into the same mold as [Will] Blackmon, Mason Foster and Alex Smith – guys that have played a lot of football where this game won't be too big for them, that they can come in and play significant reps and not be overwhelmed with the terminology or the competition,” said Gruden. “He's a very confident corner.” Perhaps Williams is a little too confident for his own good sometimes but he is immediate depth and that’s what the team needed.

—Trent Williams said that seems like a “normal” week at Redskins Park even though “in the back of your mind you know it’s a playoff game so it’s an emphasis to bring your A-game.” He also said that nobody wants to be the guy that makes the mistake that costs the team a playoff game. “The importance of just any bad play, any penalty, things like that in a playoff atmosphere tens to sting a little more than it does in a regular season game,” said Williams. “Obviously the intensity is going to be sky-high for both sides.”

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:00

Days until: Redskins vs. Packers in wild card playoff game 3; Super Bowl 50 31

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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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