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Need to Know: The Redskins get back to work

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Need to Know: The Redskins get back to work

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 7, six days before the Redskins visit the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Nickel coverage

The Redskins get back to work in Ashburn today with a 1 p.m. practice. Here are five things I’ll be keeping an eye on this week at the team gets ready to head to Dallas.

The release of John Potter a week ago indicates that there is a high degree of confidence that Kai Forbath is recovered from his groin injury and he should be good to go. Potter wasn’t awful filling in, hitting three of four field goal attempts and having the fourth-best net kickoff average in the NFL. But Potter isn’t the guy you want looking over a 48-yard game-winning field goal try. That’s Forbath and he’ll be back.

Two other players, both rookies, were inactive due to injuries against the Raiders, tight end Jordan Reed (thigh) and linebacker Brandon Jenkins (ankle). Reed’s return is more important; he is the team’s fourth leading receiver and the Redskins are going to need all of the offensive weapons they can muster if they are going to beat the Cowboys. With Rob Jackson back from suspension, Jenkins will have to battle with Darryl Tapp from week to week to be on the active list even if he is healthy.

Speaking of Reed, we should find out more about the status of Fred Davis. In the last three games he played a total of 22 snaps while being inactive with an ankle injury in one of them. When he played only six snaps against the Raiders there were a lot of questions about whether or not he was in Mike Shanahan’s doghouse. Although Shanahan said that Davis was still hobbled with the ankle injury the situation bears watching.

As noted, outside linebacker Rob Jackson is back from suspension. He started 14 games after Brian Orakpo was injured last year and although he wasn’t a consistent force he did make some key plays including a game-saving interception in the season finale against the Cowboys. With Orakpo healthy, it remains to be seen just what Jackson’s role will be.

Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins also returns from suspension. Jim Haslett said that Jenkins “is our starter” so look for him to be in there at the beginning of the Dallas game although it is likely that Kedric Golston will spell him frequently as he gets into game shape. Jenkins’ presence improves depth and he will help against the run.

Stat of the day

—The Redskins have 16 first downs rushing, putting them on pace to have 64 on the year. Last year they got 144 first downs on the ground

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Cowboys 6; Bears @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Broncos 20

—Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Players available briefly coming off of the field after practice (approx. 2:30 p.m.)

In case you missed it

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.