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Need to Know: Will the Redskins tackle better in 2014?

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins tackle better in 2014?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 14, 10 days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

—The Redskins’ top six tacklers last year were inside linebackers Perry Riley and London Fletcher, cornerbacks Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall, and safeties Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty. Those same six also led the team in missed tackles (per Pro Football Focus). Wilson, Doughty, and Fletcher are gone as of this year; will the team miss fewer tackles? Doughty, who missed 13 tackles last year, will be replaced by Ryan Clark, who also missed 13 with the Steelers last year so that could be a wash. We don’t have a track record on Keenan Robinson, the solid favorite to win Fletcher’s old Mike linebacker job, so we really don’t know how that will work out. David Amerson will take Wilson’s spot; here is where the Redskins have a shot at improvement. Wilson played 982 snaps and missed 16 tackles, one miss every 61 snaps. Amerson missed seven tackles in 694 snaps, a miss every 99 snaps.

—If you want to put Alfred Morris’ decline in yardage from over 1,613 yards in 2012 to 1,275 last year under the microscope, you really don’t have to look past his first down carries. If you look at Morris’ 2012 season, he could have been a very valuable runner based on his first-down carries alone. He carried 202 times on first for 1,037 yards (a 5.13 average) and 10 touchdowns. Last year, his production fell to 164 attempts for 747 yards (4.55 average) and five touchdowns.

— While the numbers go on Morris’ stat sheet, anyone who watched the games last year knows that he was hardly to blame for many of the issues. Frequently, Morris couldn’t get going due to predicable play calling and/or suspect blocking. He gained one, zero, or negative yards on 48 of his first-down carries. If you take out the zero-yard and negative plays his average would jump to 6.0 yards per carry. The takeaway here is that if they can give Morris a fighting chance to get moving forward they can find themselves in second and four a lot more often than they face second and 12.

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Timeline

—It’s been 197 days since the Redskins played a game; in 55 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 24; Final cuts 47; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 63

Open Mic: Is RG3 back to his old form?

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrence Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

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Redskins draft oft-injured Auburn CB Joshua Holsey with their final pick

The Redskins haven't shied away from using draft picks on players with an injury history, and that trend continued all the way to their final pick of the draft with Auburn CB Joshua Holsey.

Holsey missed parts of the 2013 and 2015 seasons at Auburn due to torn ACLs, but rebounded with a strong season in 2016. He had 30 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended in his senior season.

RELATED: REDSKINS ROLL THE DICE ON 7TH ROUND SAFETY

He was overlooked through most of the draft process due to his injury history and was snubbed at the combine. 

The seventh round is a spot to take a flier on a guy who has some traits you like, and this certainly fits the bill with the pick of Joshua Holsey. 

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