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Need to Know: Why will Pat White go the distance on Thursday?

Need to Know: Why will Pat White go the distance on Thursday?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 28, one day before the Redskins finish up their preseason at the Bucs.

Nickel coverage

Five things from Redskins Park:

1. I’m sure that most of you watched the RG3 documentary “The Will to Win” on ESPN last night. It was the story of his rehab from knee surgery and it took us to Redskins Park, FedEx Field, gyms in Las Vegas and Boulder, Colorado and other stops along his journey. Very well done and Griffin does indeed come off as fitting the “superhuman” label that Dr. James Andrews gave him in the spring. Your skeptical side may wonder if this was an accurate portrayal of Griffin or if it was just so much ESPN-generated hype. I can’t answer that, but I can tell you this. When I walked out of Redskins Park yesterday evening there was one player’s car left in the parking lot. I think you can figure out who it belongs to.

2. Mike Shanahan announced on Tuesday that Pat White will start at quarterback against the Bucs on Thursday and will play the entire game. This could mean one of three things. He might have a shot at making the 53, as one national writer suggested. That seems unlikely as it appears that the more experienced Rex Grossman has the third QB job wrapped up. Or perhaps they are putting him out there in hopes that he performs well enough to convince another team to give up a draft pick for him. That would be great for the Redskins but it’s hard to see an NFL GM giving up a draft pick for a quarterback who was on the street for three years. My guess is that Shanahan wants to protect his other quarterbacks from injury.

3. Those of you who think the Field Turf is safer for players’ knees that natural grass, see the knee injury suffered by the Giants’ Stevie Brown. He picked off a pass and, without being contacted, he suffered a torn ACL during the return. It happens. A grass field that is well maintained (that’s the key) is just as safe as the fake grass. In fact, a study of NFL games played from 2000-2009 showed that the rate of ACL injuries on Field Turf is 67 percent higher than it is on real grass.

4. There has been a lot of talk about who the Redskins’ punt returner is going to be. The most talked about names are Chris Thompson, Santana Moss, DeAngelo Hall and, if a spot can be found for him on the 53, Skye Dawson. But don’t rule out a surprise. In 2010 the punt returner to start the season was cornerback Phillip Buchanon. He did not return any punts during the preseason but there he was in Week 1 against Dallas. In three games Buchanon returned two punts for one yard and he had three fair catches. The Redskins then pulled Brandon Banks from the practice squad and gave him the return duties.

5. There is also some intrigue as to who will return kickoffs. Niles Paul replaced Banks at the end of last year. He and a few others, including Thompson, have been sharing duties in the preseason. Paul wants to keep the job. “I love doing kickoff returns,” he told me yesterday. “I love to start the game off or start the half off.”

Stat of the day

Nobody on the Redskins has been busier this preseason than backup center Kevin Matthews. He has played a team high 167 snaps in the three exhibition games. The rest of the second-team O-line is right behind him—guards Adam Gettis (142 snaps) and Josh LeRibeus (140) and tackles Tony Pashos (133) and Tom Compton (124). The defenders with the most snaps are safeties Bacarri Rambo and Jordan Pugh, who have 103 each.

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Timeline

—It’s been 234 days since the last Redskins game; there are 12 days to go until the next one.

—Days until: Redskins @ Bucs 1; Final cuts 3; Eagles @ Redskins 12

—Today’s schedule: No availability, team travels to Tampa for tomorrow’s game

New Redskins linebackers look to make an impact

In case you missed it

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Haz on Tanard Jackson in June: Welcome him back "with open arms". Today: "Don't know where he's at, what he's doing." #RedskinsTalk #newtone

— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) August 27, 2013

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Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

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USA TODAY Sports Images

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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