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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—The free agent list, Hatcher's status

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—The free agent list, Hatcher's status

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 6, 18 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

A look back at the Redskins week that was

Why is it highly unlikely that the Redskins will trade RG3?—It looked like a lot of Redskins fans were engaged in some highly wishful thinking so I thought it was a good idea to lay out the facts on the topic. Click for the details if you’d like but the bottom line is that the only realistic outcome here is Griffin getting released.

Five free agents the Redskins will not sign—Scot McCloughan said that the Redskins will not be big players in free agency. The list of players they won’t even try to sign is long and Scot McCloughan’s list of players he wants to sign is short. But the Redskins are going to sign a few players to fill a few holes so speculation won’t be pointless.

Report: Redskins sign DL Ziggy Hood—The Redskins got a jump start on free agency by signing the former Steelers first-round pick during the week. They were able to sign him because he was not on a team’s roster at the end of the season. His contract has no guaranteed money and he will have to compete for a roster spot. It could come down to Hood and Cory Crawford, who spent 2015 on the practice squad, for the last roster spot.

Five things the Redskins need to do before free agency starts—There is a lot of work to do before they start signing players—time in the film room, a trip to the combine, trying to avoid making a franchise tag for Kirk Cousins necessary, and more. After a January breather that lasted a few weeks they are back at it in a grind that will go on through June. Then it’s a couple of weeks off before the start of training camp.

Will Hatcher return or retire?—I don’t have a good feel for what will happen here. Right after the Packers game McCloughan told Hatcher that he would be welcome to return. The GM reiterated the statement at the Senior Bowl. And while he played better than his sack numbers indicate it’s hard to see Hatcher back at a cap number well north of $8 million. Will he retire? Come back at a lower salary? Get cut? We will see.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 27 days ago. It will be about 218 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 18; NFL free agency starts 32; 2016 NFL draft 82

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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

Tandler on Instagram

A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

A video posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”