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Need to Know: The Redskins' five pivotal plays

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Need to Know: The Redskins' five pivotal plays

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, October 5, eight days before the Redskins visit the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Nickel coverage

With the Redskins on their bye, the newsy nuggets that usually reside in this space are non-existent. For something a little different, let’s look at five pivotal moments from the first four games. We’ll go through them chronologically:

1. Alfred Morris loses a fumble on the Redskins’ first play from scrimmage of the year—Washington led 7-3 when Morris lost the handle on the ball on his first carry. The Eagles immediately scored a touchdown and the Redskins never held a lead for the rest of that game or at any point in the next game.

2. Aaron Rodgers throws a 35-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on fourth and three—The Redskins were hanging with Green Bay even though the offense was still scuffling. But with two and a half minutes left in the first quarter the Packers went for it on fourth and three and Rodgers converted big with the TD pass to Cobb, who dashed through the middle of the field to the score. It started a run of 21 points in about seven minutes and the game was over before halftime.

3. Robert Griffin III’s 57-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson against the Lions is overturned on replay—I suppose this moment should be more accurately be described as Robinson dropping Griffin’s sure touchdown pass. If Robinson had held on it would have given the home team a four-point lead with nine minutes to play. The way the Redskins’ defense has been playing that certainly would not have guaranteed a win but it sure would have increased the chances.

4. David Amerson’s 45-yard pick six against the Raiders—Even though the Redskins had just pulled the no-huddle offense off of the shelf to drive to a field goal, they still trailed 14-3 early in the second quarter and were very much in danger of falling to 0-4. But the rookie cornerback jumped in front of the Matt Flynn pass and dashed in for the touchdown that pumped new life into the team.

5. Griffin’s five-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon in the third quarter of the Raiders game—Even though Amerson had kept them alive, the Redskins still had to punch the ball into the end zone to win the game. They finally did late in the third when Griffin dropped back on third and three at the five and fired to Garçon on a slant. The receiver lunged over the goal line and his emphatic spike celebrated the team’s first second-half lead of the season.

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Cowboys 8; Bears @ Redskins 15; Redskins @ Broncos 22

—The Redskins are on their bye, no availability this week.

TE coach McVay talks about his position

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

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Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

GLENDALE, AZ—As expected, the Redskins will be without star tight end Jordan Reed today against the Cardinals.

He is inactive due to a third-degree AC joint sprain in his left shoulder.

Reed gutted it out and played the second half on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas after being injured in the first but during the week he didn’t practice at all couldn’t regain the range of motion needed to play today.

Coach Jay Gruden said on Friday that the team is planning on having Reed play next week against the Eagles.

For this week, Vernon Davis will step into the starting role.

Also inactive is reserve defensive lineman Anthony Lanier, who was kicked in the lower leg in Dallas. Gruden said that the swelling was still too severe for him to be able to play.

LIVE BLOG: WEEK 13 REDSKINS VS. CARDINALS

The Redskins’ other inactive players today:

  • QB Nate Sudfeld
  • DL AJ Francis
  • RB Matt Jones
  • WR Rashad Ross
  • DB Dashaun Phillips