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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Lamenting a lost opportunity

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Lamenting a lost opportunity

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 12, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Bears in Chicago.

Redskins Week 14 in review

Some thoughts on the news during the week that was:

Missed opportunity for the Redskins—There’s no other way to put it; they blew it against the Cowboys. It was predicable because it’s apparent that this team is not ready for prime time (literally and figuratively) but at the same time it was somewhat shocking to see them bumble to the loss in the fashion that they did.

The accelerated phaseout of Alfred Morris—The player who Jay Gruden insists is still his “No. 1 back” played eight snaps and got six carries in the most important game of the year. It’s apparent they are going to move on from Morris when his contract is up at the end of the year but what’s baffling is Gruden’s refusal to even say that Morris and Matt Jones are 1-A and 1-B. It’s costing him credibility

Should the Redskins abandon the run?—I was sort of kidding when I wrote this but they can’t go on gaining less than three yards per attempt. At some point you just have to say you’re going to throw the ball and spread out the field and do it. Maybe this Sunday in a rainy Soldier Field against a Bears rushing defense that allows 4.8 yards a carry isn’t the time to do it. But at some point, before the season is lost, Gruden has to consider it.

'Banged up' Redskins cancel practice, hold walkthrough—This drew some snickers on social media when I posted the article on Wednesday but, news flash, not everybody on Twitter and Facebook knows what they’re talking about. Practice was scheduled less than 36 hours after a very physical Monday night loss. With six players out and four more limited it would have been hard to conduct even a light practice. The walkthrough was the way to go.

Skins' Thompson has a torn labrum—The third-down back went into the Dallas game with a sprained shoulder and came out of it with an even more severe injury. While I’m interested to see if Matt Jones can make some plays filling in on third downs, Thompson has a burst that Jones doesn’t have.

'Keep ripping it out'—One are where the Redskins’ defense has improved is in the takeaway department. They have 20 on the season, one more than they did all of last year. Unfortunately the Redskins have been able to turn those takeaways into a mere 28 points. But the D is doing its job here.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No availability; travel to Chicago

Days until: Redskins @ Bears 1; Bills @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Eagles 14

In case you missed it

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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back