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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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One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

The Eagles defense is on a big-play streak, but not one that defensive coordinators will like very much, and it could be very good news for the Redskins and DeSean Jackson. 

At this stage of his career, Jackson is a well-known deep threat. While much of the 2016 season has been disappointing for Jackson, in back-to-back weeks, the vertical passing attack has worked. In Arizona last Sunday, Jackson only caught one pass, but it went for 59 yards. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Jackson hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins as part of his season-high 118 receiving yards.

"What he brings to this football team, he brings something that not a lot of people can bring, and that’s obviously the speed and the big play ability," 'Skins head coach Jay Gruden said of Jackson.

The last two games moved Jackson's yards-per-catch average back in normal range with the rest of his career at 16.5. Halfway through this season, Jackson was averaging below 14 YPC, which would have been by far the worst of his career.

"A lot of people think that we haven’t utilized his speed quite like we should, but I think he has had a major impact on this football team," Gruden said. "His deep threat has an impact on the defense. It opens up areas for Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder and the backs sometimes. He’s been a major influence for this football team in a good way."

Beyond just the big plays, the Eagles defense has given up 645 passing yards in their last two games. Cousins has historically played well in Philadelphia, and should be in good position to do the same this weekend.

And based on the Eagles' past six games, expect Jackson to have another big game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

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