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Need to Know: Some Redskins focus on Bucs, others on Steelers

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Need to Know: Some Redskins focus on Bucs, others on Steelers

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 31, three days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 players.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Bucs, Raymond James Stadium, broadcast on CSN

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 232 days ago. It will be 12 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 18; Browns @ Redskins 32; Redskins @ Ravens 39

The Redskins week that was

You know how in spring training baseball teams will have split-squad games? The top line players will go to one site and play a game while the bench warmers and likely minor leaguers go play at another site.

The Redskins have their version of that going on today.

The second and third string, the reserves and players trying to make the team, will be flying to Tampa to play the Bucs in preseason game No. 4. They are concerned with putting on a good show in hopes of either making the roster or practice squad in Washington or hoping that they put enough on film to get a call from another NFL team.

Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Kerrigan, Josh Norman, DeSean Jackson, and the rest of the starters and top reserves aren't going to a game; they will be going to lunch. They will be attending the annual Welcome Home Luncheon at a hotel at Tyson’s Corner.

The plan was for the the whole team to attend the lunch event, a tradition for over 50 years, and then fly to Tampa, check into the hotel, and go into their usual routine before playing the Bucs on Thursday night. But Mother Nature got in the way and the threat of a major storm coming out of the Gulf of Mexico forced the game to be moved up and forced the Redskins to alter their plans.

Jay Gruden said that the change was not a major disruption to their planning.

“We just had to speed it up a little bit,” said Gruden. “We didn’t plan on doing a lot of Tampa early in the week anyway, but we’re going to try to do something today and tomorrow. We just have to speed up our preparation a little bit.”

The Redskins were not really game planning for the Bucs; that’s what Gruden meant by “not going a lot of Tampa”. That’s typical for a fourth preseason game and why the change in schedule is no big deal. Moving a regular-season game up and taking 24 hours of preparation time away from a team would be a lot tougher to deal with.

Meanwhile, the players who are staying behind are getting ready for when the game start counting.

“We have started our preparation for Pittsburgh,” said Gruden. “We started meeting on that this past week.”

While it would be great to have all of the players there for support, perhaps just sending the players who will participate to Tampa is not such a bad thing. It gives the front-line players a day or so extra to get ready for the real thing a week from Monday.

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Josh Doctson with a helmet. No jersey or announcement of removal from PUP. #Redskins

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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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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.

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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.