Quick Links

Need to Know: Special teams clinch roster spot for Murphy

jerome-murphy.png

Need to Know: Special teams clinch roster spot for Murphy

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 3, six days before the Redskins open up their season against the Eagles at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

1. I posted yesterday on Barry Cofield’s contract restructure. It should be noted that Cofield did not take any less money in the deal. Basically, Cofield will get most of his 2013 salary up front instead of in 17 installments over the course of the season. It’s good of him to do it and all but the alteration to his contract should be distinguished from actual pay cuts that players like Santana Moss, Josh Wilson and Brandon Meriweather took during the offseason.

2. Mike Shanahan won’t commit to Chris Thompson being the punt returner against the Eagles but he did say he was the “top candidate”. He also said that Santana Moss and Josh Morgan were possibilities. Moss makes sense because he did a lot of returning early in his career with the Jets. Morgan, on the other hand, has never returned a punt in the NFL. He did return a total of 14 punts in his four years at Virginia Tech, a college career that ended in 2007.

3. If you looked at this space yesterday you saw that I predicted what Mike Shanahan would say when asked why the team kept Pat White. Here was what I thought he’d say: “He was one of the best 53 players, we keep the best 53 regardless of position.” Here is what he actually said: “Like I said all along, we’re trying to keep the top 53 players and I thought Pat was one of the top 53 players.” Close, darn close.

4. Shanahan didn’t exactly address exactly why the team cut Chase Minnifield but he did talk about Jerome Murphy, the cornerback who made the team in his place. “That was pretty easy. Murphy is one heck of a special teams player,” he said. “When he has played the corner position, he’s played it well. He’s got speed, he’s got size and he’s been dominating on special teams.” So there you go.

5. And regarding Tanard Jackson, Shanahan said, “I haven’t heard a word. I have not heard one word.” That was the totality of his answer. This reinforces the recommendation we gave here yesterday that you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a resolution here. If he ever plays a down for the Redskins it will be weeks from now, if not months.

Stat of the day

—The Redskins allowed only three backs to rush for 100 yards or more against them last year; Jonathan Dwyer of the Steelers (107 yards), Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants (103), and Ray Rice of the Ravens (121). They were 2-1 in those games.

Like Real Redskins on Facebook!

Timeline

—It’s been 240 days since the last Redskins game; there are six days until the next one

—Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Packers 12; Lions @ Redskins 19

—Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

Redskins’ practice squad is unique

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?

Quick Links

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

christian_mccaffrey_running_usat.png
USA TODAY Sports Images

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

More Redskins: When the talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags before