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

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

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 22, 36 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 164 days ago. It will be 82 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 36; Preseason opener @ Falcons 50; Final roster cut 73

Top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2016

Here are the top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2016 based on rushing yards gained last year.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings (1,485 yards)—I have to say that a year ago I was skeptical that could lead the league in rushing at age 30 after having sat out most of 2014 but I was wrong. I’m not sure he’ll repeat the feat this year but at 31 he still is likely to be a handful when the Redskins host the Vikings in Week 10.

Darren McFadden, Cowboys (1,089 yards)—Will it be McFadden, who suffered a fractured elbow earlier this month in an effort to keep his cell phone from hitting the floor after he dropped it? Or will the Redskins see more of rookie Ezekiel Elliott? Or perhaps old friend Alfred Morris? It will probably be some combination of the three. It won’t really matter; with that Cowboys O-line leading the way the Redskins’ defense had better tighten up their chin traps.

Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (989 yards)—Stewart is entering his ninth season but he’s only 29 and coming off of his second-best career rushing season. He won’t be the only rushing threat on the field; Cam Newton rolled for 636 yards last year.

DeAngelo Williams, Steelers (907)—Williams took over when Le’Veon Bell went out in Week 6 with multiple torn knee ligaments. Bell himself said that the knee is “very compromised” so he may take some time to get up to speed. Although few have Bell’s level of talent Williams is very capable and there is no reason for the Redskins to relax if Bell is out or limited in Week 1.

Rashad Jennings, Giants (863)—Jennings is a decent back but the fact that he’s on the top five here tells me that the Redskins are avoiding many of the league’s better ball carriers this year. He didn’t do much in two games against the Redskins last year, gaining 46 yards on 17 carries.

The Cardinals will be tough to defend on the ground with their trio of Chris Jonson (814 rushing yards), David Johnson (581), and Andre Ellington (289).

I can also see the Bengal’s two-pronged rushing attack with Jeremy Hill (794 yards) and Giovani Bernard (730) being tough for the Redskins to stop.

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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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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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.

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