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Need to Know: Surprise contributors helping the Redskins

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Need to Know: Surprise contributors helping the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 19, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Carolina Panthers.

Five thoughts and observations from Redskins Park

—There is no reason to get all nervous about Matt Jones fumbling. Alfred Morris had four in his rookie year, three of them recovered by the other team, and nine in his first two seasons combined and nobody was screaming for him to get glued to the bench.

—I’m keeping my eye on the inside linebacker spot this week. Will Compton seems to have one of the spots locked down but not necessarily for every snap. Last week I thought that Perry Riley was only playing because Keenan Robinson was injured but he responded with his best game of the year, including an acrobatic interception. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all three of them rotate situationally through the game.

—I’m going to do a post on what Trent Williams said about Morgan Moses’ play in the next day or two but the second-year player is getting high praise from both players and coaches. “I think he’s playing at a level of right tackle as good as anybody in the National Football League,” said Jay Gruden said of Moses after the Saints game. When training camp started nobody figured he would play much of a role at all this year. It goes to show you how much and how quickly things can change in the NFL.

—Speaking of unanticipated contributors, Will Blackmon wasn’t even on the roster Week 1. His play has essentially pushed DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins starting cornerback since the middle of the 2008 season, to safety. It’s hard to think of what a disaster the secondary would have been with Hall and Chris Culliver missing significant time with injuries had they not found Blackmon.

—Gruden said that there were “a couple of little skirmishes out there” during practice on Wednesday. "We’re just competing, man, that’s it," said Blackmon. "Nothing crazy, just a lot of testosterone out there." Perhaps this has happened at this time of year before but I don’t recall it happening often. This is a good sign; you have to like the feistiness out there a week before Thanksgiving.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Panthers 3; Giants @ Redskins 10; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 18

In case you missed it

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Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

The day after the Eagles 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, Philadelphia coach Doug Peterson said that he didn’t think that all his players played hard.

Not everybody, and that’s the accountability that I talk about,” Pederson said, via the Birds 24/7 blog. “I hold coaches accountable for that; I hold myself accountable for that because it all starts with me. I pride myself each week to make sure the guys are ready to go, but at the same time, it comes down to a mentality by each individual player. This is a business where we have to be ready to go every single weekend because every team in the league — there are some teams that are better than others, but for the most part anything can happen any weekend.”

This sort of vague shot fired at the team did not sit well with the players. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the most respected voices on the team, said that the comments put players in a bad spot.

“I know the intent of the guys that I practice with and play with every day, and I didn’t see effort being an issue,” Jenkins said. “It puts us in a little bit of a tough position as players because now everybody wants to know, ‘Well, who were you talking about?’”

Some in the media in Philadelphia surmised that two of the players Pederson was talking about were tight end Zach Ertz and safety Rodney McLeod. One on play it looked like Ertz failed to block Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a Carson Wentz scramble.

“I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play,” said Ertz. “I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past.”

It didn’t look like McLeod did everything he could to keep Bengals running back Jeremy Hill from scoring a touchdown on a two-yard run in the first quarter.

“I thought the ball was going to hit somewhere else, and then obviously it came through. By the time I could react, Hill already crossed the plane,” said McLeod. “Just got caught flat-footed, tried to react and by the time I did, I feel like if I were to hit him it could possibly be late. Just a tough situation.”

You can see both of the plays in question here.

We don’t know if Ertz and McLeod are among the players that Pederson was talking about when he spoke of issues with effort. Leaving things vague like that doesn’t do much for the coach’s credibility in the locker room. And when that starts to be in doubt the coach gets asked about his job security. Pederson said that owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman have been supportive.

“From both of them, it’s been 100 percent support on everything. I meet with Jeffrey and Howie every week and we discuss a lot of things and go over a lot of things. Every week, it’s very positive,” Pederson said. “I just don’t think you can base a guy’s career on one season. I think you got to give it time to develop.

But the fact that these questions are being asked after he has been in his job for a dozen games is an indication that he is facing at least a minor crisis as his team prepares for four games that are likely to be meaningless in terms of the playoff picture. We will see if he can get the train back on the tracks by Sunday.

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

As usual, answer the poll and either rely on Twitter or come back here and hit the comments section.