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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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Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

The Redskins moved the ball well against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but continued red zone woes again sent Washington home with a loss. While the late November schedule proved brutal for the 'Skins, playing two games in five days, now the Redskins come to Arizona for an early December game with fresh legs and ample rest. Played indoors at University of Phoenix Stadium, weather will not be a factor for the 4 p.m. EST kick, but all the action starts on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at 3 p.m. Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Keep it moving - Kirk Cousins showed he likes to get hot in the second half of the season during 2015. The quarterback's play late last year won the 'Skins the NFC East, and while a division title is out of reach with the Cowboys already at 11 wins, Cousins again looks to be on a heater. In three games since the bye, Cousins has thrown for more than 1,000 yards to go with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The No. 1 story for the 'Skins is Cousins, and if he keeps his hot streak going, Washington should find itself in position to win in Arizona.
  2. Missing in action - This will be the final game of a four-game suspension for left tackle Trent Williams, and the Washington offensive line has performed admirably in his absence. Arguably more important this week will be the absence of tight end Jordan Reed, who suffered a serious shoulder injury in Dallas. What's wild about Reed - he came back to play in the second half against the Cowboys - and score two touchdowns - while playing with a separated shoulder. Reed did not practice this week, and Jay Gruden said his range of motion in the shoulder is just too limited to go against the Cardinals. 
  3. Consider the source - The Redskins offense might be the most potent group in this game, but Washington would be foolish to sleep on the Cardinals. Arizona was widely considered a Super Bowl contender coming into the season, and though they are in the midst of a disappointing year at 4-6-1, a win against the Skins could get the Cards back on the playoff track. Arizona running back David Johnson is the 3rd leading rusher in the NFL with 921 yards on the ground, not to mention an additional 613 yards receiving. Gruden on Johnson, "He is probably the best all-around back there is in the National Football League right now as far as being able to move outside, be a great route runner but also run between the tackles and run outside with his speed. So it’s going to be a matchup problem." Defensively, the Redskins ranks 25th in the NFL at stopping the run. Watch out for David Johnson.
  4. Problems don't just go away - Look at just about any metric on the Redskins offense, and the results are impressive: No. 2 in yards-per-game, No. 2 in yards-per-play, No. 2 in pass yards-per-game. But for all the yards, the 'Skins don't score at a corresponding clip as they rank 9th in the NFL in points. The culprit? Red zone troubles. "There are so many good things we’re doing on offense to put a damper on what they’re doing offensively with the red zone. It’s hard to do, but it’s something that is a glaring weakness of this football team right now," Gruden said of his team. The best road to wins for the Redskins is by scoring, ideally at least 30 points, and that will require some success inside the 20s.
  5. The harder they fall - If the Arizona offense has an Achilles heel, it's their offensive line. Carson Palmer has been sacked 16 times in the Cards last four games, and the 'Skins need to focus on bringing Palmer down. Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy - who will be playing in his hometown - have been the leaders at getting sacks for Joe Barry's defense, and Preston Smith could be in line for another big game. Getting to Carson Palmer should be among the defense's top priorities, as that can slow Larry Fitzgerald and the Cards pass game.

Numbers & Notes:

  • DeSean Jackson's 67-yard reception in Dallas was a season long and his longest since a 77-yard touchdown vs. Buffalo in Week 15 of the 2015 season.
  • Kirk Cousins' 3,540 passing yards in 2016 now rank 10th-most in a single season in team history, and he still has five games left to play.
  • The Redskins offense ranks first in the NFL in percentage of fewest 3-and-out drives at 9.5 percent.
  • If Pierre Garçon can gain 137 receiving yards on Sunday, he will pass Michael Westbrook for 10th-most career receiving yards in team history.
  • With nine sacks, Ryan Kerrigan is one sack away from becoming the fifth member of the Redskins (Dexter Manley, 4; Charles Mann, 4; Andre Carter, 2; Brian Orakpo, 2) to post multiple 10-sack seasons since the NFL adopted sacks as an official statistic in 1982.

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Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

As the Cowboys take their long week off after consecutive Thursday games the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and other wild card contenders are in action. Here is Tandler’s weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL.

—The Giants are on a six-game winning streak and while that’s not easy to do against any level of competition it needs to be pointed out that their slate was squishy-soft with the last five wins coming against teams that currently have losing records. Now things get real with a trip to play the Steelers and a home date against the Cowboys. I’m not really sure how good the Giants are but if they split these two games I’ll be more impressed with them than I am now.

—The 5-6 Eagles travel to play the Bengals, who are just about out of contention for a sixth straight playoff appearance at 3-7-1. In fact, the Eagles might be just about out of it, too. Their big problem is 3-6 conference record, which puts them behind several other wild card contenders in this tiebreaker. It’s important because that is the second tiebreaker behind head to head. It’s better for the Redskins if the Bengals win but it probably won’t matter much. The consensus in Philadelphia seems to be that the Eagles are a rebuilding team that got off to a hot start, kindling some unrealistic hopes and expectations for the rest of 2016.

—The team is the hottest pursuit of the Redskins is the Buccaneers, who travel to San Diego to play a game that starts at the same time as Washington-Arizona. The Chargers are 5-6 but they are buried in last in the tough AFC West. This game is a coin flip. Redskins fans should root for the Chargers. If the Bucs lose, the Redskins would still hold the second wild card at the end of the day even if they should lose to the Cardinals.

—The 5-6 Saints are on the fringes of the wild card picture. They host the Lions, who are leading the NFC North by a game and a half over the Vikings and two games over the Packers. It’s probably best if the Lions win, which would just about eliminate the Saints. Still, there is a scenario where the Lions go into a minor tailspin, lose the division to either the Packers or Vikings but have a good enough record to take the second wild card. So like with most games within the NFC until the dust settles some more, there is some upside and some downside no matter which team wins.

—That scenario where the Lions fade from the division lead become a whole lot less likely if the Texans can go to Green Bay and beat the Packers. This is an interconference game so it’s an easy call to pull for Houston.

—Seattle, with a three-game lead in the NFC West, hosts the Panthers, who are on the outer fringe of the wild card race at 4-7. Another loss likely would ensure that Carolina won’t be able to defend its NFC title. This isn’t a pivotal game but probably better if the Seahawks win to end it for the wounded but potentially dangerous Panthers.

—My one loss last week was the Seahawks giving 5.5 on the road to the Bucs. I won with the Saints over the Rams and the Falcons over the Cardinals. This week I’m giving the Seahawks another go, giving 7 to the Panthers, and I’m taking the Patriots -13.5 against the Rams (the loss of Gronk doesn’t do much to equalize these teams) and the Saints giving 6 to the Lions.

MORE REDSKINS: Betting on the Redskins' playoff chances