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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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Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

As Jay Gruden stepped to the podium to read the injury report, he warned, “This will be a while.”

He was right, as he rattled off one the longest injury reports of the season.

Out were G Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion), DE Chris Baker (ankle), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Anthony Lanier (lower leg), G Shawn Lauvao (groin), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (illness).

Of that group, all but Jean Francois, Lanier, and Nsekhe are starters. Between them and the limited players listed below it was difficult for the Redskin to conduct a normal practice.

“It was a challenge,” said Gruden of getting through it. “Practice was modified quite a bit today. We did more walkthrough today than we ever have on a Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you have to taper back just a hair to make it through practice, try to get the mental reps in with walkthrough and then hopefully the physical part will come maybe tomorrow. Friday we can open them up a bit.”

Limited in practice were TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and TE Derek Carrier (knee).

READ MORE: FULL UPDATE ON JORDAN REED

Reed returned to practice for the first time since suffering a Grade 3 sprain to the AC joint in his left shoulder in the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He missed the game in Arizona. While his limited participation was a good sign for his return it’ is way too early in the week to say with any degree of certainty that he will be playing against the Eagles.

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Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

RGIII is finally getting another chance to play.

Plagued by injury after injury — most recently breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Eagles in their season opener — the former Redskin is set to start for Cleveland against the Bengals on Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

Griffin was cleared for contact last week after missing the majority of the Browns’ 0-12 season, and the team is coming off a bye week after its last loss to the Giants over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2015, Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin as starting quarterback, and the Redskins released him at the end of the season. He signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland in March.  

In Griffin’s absence, the Browns have relied on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, who boast a 65.5 and 54.5 completion percentage, respectively. The two combine for just 12 touchdowns this season.

Will Griffin be the key to ending the Browns’ winless season? We’ll find out Sunday.

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