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Need to Know: The top five receivers the Redskins will face in 2016

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Need to Know: The top five receivers the Redskins will face in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 24, 34 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. It will be 80 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 21; Preseason opener @ Falcons 48; Final roster cut 71

The five best wide receivers the Redskins will face in 2016

Ranked by receiving yards gained in 2015.

Antonio Brown, Steelers (1,834 yards)—The Redskins secondary is supposed to be improved this year. They had better hit the ground running as Brown will be a very tough test right out of the gate.

Odell Beckham, Giants (1,450)—He has torn up Washington since he has been in the league (3 games, 28 receptions, 364 yards, 5 TD). The Redskins are hoping that their $75 million investment in Josh Norman slows OBJ down. In any case the twice a year meetings should be entertaining.

A.J. Green, Bengals (1,297)—Green has been in the league for five years and has been remarkably consistent and productive. He has averaged 83 receptions for 1,234 yards and nine touchdowns per season. At 6-4 with an ability to snatch the ball out of the air if it’s thrown anywhere near him, Green can be a nightmare.

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (1,215)—For a while it looked like Father Time had caught up with Fitz. After five years where he averaged almost 1,300 receiving yards per season he gained just 845 per year from 2012-2014. But he had a resurgence last year with 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns.

John Brown, Cardinals (1,003)—Brown was not a big name coming out of college, not surprising since he went to Pittsburg State (not Pitt, like Fitzgerald, Pittsburg State, in Kansas). His speed and shiftiness have made him a big-play threat, especially if you start to pay too much attention to Fitzgerald.

Just missing the list was the Eagles Jordan Matthews (997), who is underrated by many fans. The Cowboys’ Dez Bryant only had only 401 receiver yards last year after missing a good chunk of the season with a foot injury and then perhaps returning too soon. He appears to be healthy and he will be a handful for the Redskins defense twice this year.

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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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