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NTK: Redskins by the numbers—First down rushing woes must be fixed

NTK: Redskins by the numbers—First down rushing woes must be fixed

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 24, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 196 days ago. It will be 50 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 18; Final roster cut 41; Cowboys @ Redskins 56

The Redskins by the numbers

89—The number of players on the roster after the release of Adam Hayward on Friday.

They might sign a player this week or they could want until they get to Richmond and see who passes physicals and who does not. They could shore up an area where they are short after finding out who will go on PUP.

5.0—The average gain on a first-down rushing attempt against the Redskins last year.

That was the worst performance in the league on first-down rushing defense by far. In fact, two players, Chris Ivory of the Jets and Devonta Freeman of the Falcons, had over 100 yards against Washington on first down carries alone. If the other team can hand off and have second and five on average it’s going to be a long day for the defense.

3.3—The Redskins’ average gain on first-down rushing attempts on offense.

You may be able to guess that that is the worst first-down rushing average in the league. It’s a passing league but you need to be able to run the ball better than that if you’re going to be successful.

+146—The difference in the Redskins’ point differential between 2014 and 2015.

They were outscored by 137 points in 2014 and they outscored the opposition by nine points last year. That is a remarkable turnaround, one of the best in team history. That said, not many teams that only outscore the opposition by a touchdown and a field goal over the course of a season are successful in the postseason. It’s a key stat that says while the Redskins have improved they need to hold onto their gains and advance further.

16—The number of opponents’ fumbles the Redskins recovered.

The football number crunchers tell us that fumble recoveries are not “sticky”, that the same teams don’t tend to do well in them year after year. The Redskins’ 16 recoveries last year led the league so they are not likely to do that again. However, there is plenty of room for them to get more interceptions. They had just 11 last year, tied for 22nd in the NFL. So if they miss out on half a dozen fumble recoveries they can make it up by picking up four to six more passes.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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