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Play of the Day: Redskins running back depth chart on display

Play of the Day: Redskins running back depth chart on display

RICHMOND—The Redskins don’t put out their first unofficial depth chart of the season until early next when they distribute the media notes for their preseason opener against the Falcons. But on Thursday it was apparent how the depth chart at running back stacks up.

Matt Jones, who is the unquestioned No. 1 back, was out of practice, resting a sore knee. Chris Thompson, the senior member of the running back corps at the age of 25 with three NFL seasons under his belt, ran with the first team. He popped a few nice runs and did a good job protecting the football from the constant efforts of the defense to strip it out.

That makes Thompson No. 2 on the depth chart. But that is not a spot that he seems to be particularly anxious to hold on to as he indicated in a couple of interviews (here and here). For now, if only by default, there he is.

Running the Colt McCoy and the second-team offense was undrafted rookie free agent Robert Kelley. At 6-0, 228 Kelley is four inches taller and about 30 pounds heavier than Thompson. He was the surprise star of OTAs and minicamp and he has kept it up so far in Richmond. Kelley was back in the lineup after missing a couple of days with a hamstring pull.

With Nate Sudfeld and the third team was Mack Brown, who spent a little time on the Redskins practice squad this year. He struggled some but the threes on the offensive line didn’t give him much help.

That left Keith Marshall to grab reps where he could. The seventh-round pick had only a few carries but he did show some power and speed on one run up the middle.

To sum it up, there is Matt Jones at the top of the depth chart going into the first preseason game followed by Thompson, Kelley, Brown, and Marshall. It’s hard to see it remaining like that when Week 1 of the regular season rolls around. It seems likely that one of two things will take place.

Kelley could move into the No. 2 spot. I’m not sure if he has gained the trust of the coaches just yet but he has four preseason games and about 25 practices to make that impression.

Or, they could sign a veteran running back. Such a move has been much discussed but it doesn’t seem to be imminent.

The situation is opening the door for Kelly, Brown, and Marshall to grab some NFL playing time. We will see how the rotation stacks up when they open the preseason in Atlanta six days from today.

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.

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Redskins offense finally clicked, but their defense is why you should be thrilled

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins offense finally clicked, but their defense is why you should be thrilled

LANDOVER, Md. — It'll be tempting to focus on the Redskins' offense as you bask in the glow of their 27-10 Sunday night win vs. the Raiders. In fact, it'll be tempting not to just spend Monday at work watching that graceful Josh Doctson grab over and over again. 

But don't be too distracted by how well Kirk Cousins and his unit played, because it was the defense's effort that should have you most excited throughout the week as you talk about the now 2-1 Burgundy and Gold.

Allow Jay Gruden to explain how proud he is of the group that dominated throughout the Week 3, nationally televised matchup against an AFC favorite.

"I think it was as good a defensive performance that I've seen in a long time by anybody," the head coach said in his press conference. "To hold that offense with Marshawn [Lynch] and Derek [Carr] and [Michael] Crabtree and Amari Cooper... the list goes on and on. 0-11 on third downs. I mean, it's a great tribute to Coach Manusky and the staff, but the players were executing."

MORE: QUARTER-BY-QUARTER BREAKDOWN OF THE WIN

Trying to select a defensive player of the night? Write down about 10 names, toss them into your favorite 'Skins hat, mix them up and choose one. Odds are, you'll find a deserving player.

Montae Nicholson hauled in his first career interception on the Raiders' first passing play. Kendall Fuller notched his first pick, too. Preston Smith and Jonathan Allen, meanwhile, both posted a sack and were around Derek Carr on plenty of other occasions. And you could make a compilation of Zach Brown and DJ Swearinger's hardest hits, and it'd probably run a few minutes featuring just their tackles.

The Raiders came into D.C. as one of the league's most productive offenses through two contests. They left, however, with just 128 total yards, never able to find any momentum against an opponent that was flying around from beginning to end.

"D-line was going out there and just attacking, hunting, eating," Fuller said afterward. "I remember just being on the sideline — just all the DBs — just telling them how much we appreciate it. The linebackers helping them in the run game, helping us in the pass game. So just all three levels, all three phases of the game."

"We just got our butt kicked," Carr stated matter of factly.

Coming into the season, it was expected that the Redskins' offense would author complete performances like the one they did at home vs. the Silver and Black. Turning over a rising young QB a couple of times, manhandling a premier offensive line and coming up with clutch red zone stands, though?

Those are the types of things that could make the 2017 season a special one. And those are the types of things that make the defense's showing the best part of an excellent overall victory.