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Need to Know: The Redskins' five most important games in 2015

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Need to Know: The Redskins' five most important games in 2015

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 9, four days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

The five most important games on the Redskins schedule

The Redskins are unlikely to be competing for playoff spot this year (although you never know). But there are still some important games on their schedule. Looking at it just a few days before things get underway, here are what could be the five pivotal games in 2015.

Week 2 vs. Rams—St. Louis came to FedEx Field last December and manhandled the Redskins 24-0. Shaun Hill, a 35-year-old journeyman QB put up a 133 rating on them and the Rams defense sacked Redskins quarterbacks seven times. Oh, and coach Jeff Fisher trolled them by making the game captains the players they drafted with the picks from the RG3 trade. If they are not much more competitive this time around there could be very early calls for Jay Gruden to be replaced.

Week 5 @ Falcons—Like the Redskins, the Falcons are trying to work their way back to respectability. This will be a tough road test for Washington. There are plenty of familiar faces in Atlanta with Chris Chester starting at guard, Tyler Polumbus and Leonard Hankerson as backups, and Raheem Morris coaching the secondary and Kyle Shanahan serving as the offensive coordinator. Losing is bad enough; losing to a bunch of familiar faces would not go over well.

Week 7 vs. Bucs—This game is important for two reasons. First, the Bucs, who had the worst record in the NFL last year, came in to FedEx Field last November and thumped the home team 27-7. Josh McCown passed for 288 yards and rookie Mike Evans caught two touchdown passes. If the Redskins are indeed a better team they need to have a better showing against the Bucs, who are still among the league’s worst teams. And this is the last game before the bye and two weeks of general discontent on the airways and in the blogosphere might be too much to bear.

Week 12 vs. Giants—The Redskins had a tough time in the division last year, winning just two games. This is only a little earlier than that but it will only be their third division matchup. New York should be a cut above the Redskins this year but not so much better that the Redskins don’t have a legitimate shot of winning a home game against them.

Week 15 vs. Bills—The 2015 Redskins want to be pretty much what the 2014 Bills were, a team that utilized the running game and strong defense to have a respectable record despite spotty play from the quarterback position. Now that Rex Ryan is the coach in Buffalo there will be even more emphasis on defense and “ground and pound” running. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins can beat what they hope is a mirror image of themselves.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)

—It’s been 255 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 4 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 15; Eagles @ Redskins 25

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In case you missed it

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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