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Need to Know: The light has turned on for Redskins’ Preston Smith

Need to Know: The light has turned on for Redskins’ Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Monday Tuesday, May 17, seven days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 128 days ago. It will be 118 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 7; Redskins training camp starts 72; Preseason opener @ Falcons 86

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It takes some players a season or two to understand the level of work it takes to succeed in the NFL. A select few understand right off the bat; many more talented players never get it and either struggle to hang on or end up out of the league altogether.

Preston Smith didn’t get it during a good chunk of his rookie season. Joe Barry gave the team’s second-round pick a while to catch on but he finally had to pull him aside and talk to him.

“He had no clue what it took to be an NFL football player,” Barry said on Inside the Locker Room on ESPN 980. “You’ve got to tell guys. I sat him down and said, ‘If you want to play in this league, the way you’re preparing and the way you’re practicing, you’re not a bad kid, but you won’t last three years in his league if you continue to prepare and if you act the way you act.’”

It took more than one such sit down session for the bulb to go off but eventually it did for the rookie. He racked up six sacks in the Redskins’ last four games including one for a safety against the Packers in the playoff game.

Smith has continued to impress during the offseason. “Even three months [ago], he was here,” said Barry. “He was working, he was grinding, he changed his body, and he changed his mindset on the way he’s approaching everything.”

Scot McCloughan also praised Smith for his work this offseason, particularly in helping the rookie players who have arrived in the last few weeks pointed in the right direction.

It will be fun to see how Smith plays with a full offseason of quality work under his belt. It probably won’t be much fun for opposing quarterbacks.

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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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