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Need to Know: Special teams clinch roster spot for Murphy

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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.

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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

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.