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Need to Know: Will Barnett play special teams?

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Need to Know: Will Barnett play special teams?

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 3, five days before the Redskins open their preseason against the Titans.

Will Barnett play special teams?

Usually, backup linebackers play special teams. They are some of the best athletes on the team and have a combination of size and speed that makes the perfect for sprinting downfield to cover kicks.

However, Nick Barnett may not play special teams. He has started every NFL game in which he has played, all 139 of them, and special teams is not a role that starters are expected to fill.

When asked if he had ever played special teams in his career, Barnett initially joked that he hadn’t. The then said that he played punt team his first for years in the NFL.

He started his NFL career in 2003 so his last year on the punt team would be 2006 when he was in Green Bay. George W. Bush was still president, Bret Favre was the Packers’ QB, and Joe Gibbs was in the middle of his second run as the Redskins’ head coach.

It remains to be seen if Barnett will play teams with Barack Obama serving as president, Robert Griffin III as his team’s quarterback (RG3 couldn’t vote for president in 2006), and Mike Shanahan as the Redskins’ head coach.

It doesn’t appear that playing special teams was a condition of Barnett’s employment with Washington. When asked if playing teams came up Barnett said, “Yes and no. We are going to see where we are at when the season starts. I am here to do whatever I am told to do, play, and be the biggest impact I can for this team.”

It would be difficult to carry a linebacker who doesn’t play special teams on the 53-man roster and it would be even tougher to have among the 46 game day actives. But it can be done and the Redskins just might do it.

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Today’s Fan Appreciation Day schedule

9:00—Gates open

12:00—Practice begins

2:30 (approx.)—Mike Shanahan news conference

According to Redskins.com there will be performances by the Redskins Marching Band and the Redskins cheerleaders prior to practice.

Tarik talks rookie DB’s

In case you missed it

Days until: Redskins @ Titans preseason opener 5; Preseason Monday night vs. Steelers 16; Redskins @ Packers 43

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back