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Practice report: RG3 sharp

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Practice report: RG3 sharp

RICHMOND—Here’s my look at today’s Redskins practice, first with a look at Robert Griffin III’s day and then a walk around a few other notable events.

(Note: just to mix it up we're shifting back to the old school, non-Twitter report for the last practice report of the year.

—Griffin looks none the worse for wear the day after his rigorous 16-rep day on Wednesday. Well, OK, it really wasn’t all that tough.

—In position drills, passing to receivers covered by nobody, Griffin looks sharp. Earlier in camp he seemed like he was using his arm more and his (right) plant leg less. Now he is driving off of the injured leg more and using his arm less. That’s helping his velocity and accuracy. And, most important, it’s a sign that the knee is rounding into shape.

—Griffin’s first set of four reps in 11 on 11 includes two handoffs to Alfred Morris and two passes. One pass is a dumpoff to Roy Helu and the other is a nice dart to Josh Morgan, who was about 25 yards downfield on the numbers. He executed the handoffs perfectly, for the record.

—In between reps, Griffin stands by Kyle Shanahan but seems to be focused more on what he needs to do the next time he’s behind center rather than paying close attention to what’s going on when he is out. In other words, he’s not doing as many as many “mental reps”, he’s more thinking about his own reps.

—The highlight of RG3’s second set is a play-action bootleg pass to Fred Davis. Griffin hit him on the move about 15 yards downfield.

—The next time he was out there it was just for one play but it was a good one. He hit Josh Morgan on a deep post, the pass right on the money. At this point Griffin is four of four.

—Griffin doubled his number of completions the next time out. He was four for four, all of them in the five- to 10-yard range.

—In a goal line set, Griffin gets two snaps. On the first one he hands off to Alfred Morris. The next one was the play-action bootleg and he found Davis in the back of the end zone for his first “touchdown” of 11 on 11 drills.

—After hitting Aldrick Robinson for 19 yards after a play fake, Griffin had taken 17 snaps and was 10 for 10.

—It was in the next set that Griffin threw his first incompletion. He went for Pierre Garçon on an out pattern but the pass was way wide.

—A little bit later on, Griffin hit Garçon on that sideline patter and that was his last play of the day. In 21 snaps he was 14 of 15 for (per John Keim of ESPN and Zac Boyer of the Free Lance Star) 179 yards with the one touchdown.

In some other notable happenings:

—It’s apparent that the defense has been instructed to go extra hard after the ball when a rookie gets a carry. After one Jawan Jamison carry the defense swarmed around him, tugging and punching at the ball. They kept it up every time Jamison got the ball and when Chris Thompson got it although it didn’t seem that Thompson was treated quite as roughly as Jamison.

—The highlight catch of the day came when Kirk Cousins went to Leonard Hankerson on a deep post. Both the receiver and the defensive back (who couldn’t be identified because the defenders were wearing bibs as the emulated the Steelers defense) got their hands on the ball. Hankerson snatched it away and rolled downfield.

—Later Cousins threw a pass intended for Jordan Reed that newly acquired linebacker Quan Sturdivant tipped and intercepted. Nice play but Reed needs to learn how to play defensive back when he needs to. He didn’t make much of an effort to knock the pass down.

—Speaking of receivers who don’t try to knock down passes a defender is about to catch, Dezmon Briscoe had better pick up his level of hustle. He turned into a spectator on interceptions by Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford. He gave just no effort at all to break up the pass.

—Your know, since Griffin started running in 11 on 11, the seven on seven drills have gone away. They didn’t do any of them last year either. The Redskins, Kyle Shanahan in particular, don’t like seven on seven, they’d rather run the whole team to simulate the offense. Assuming Griffin is healthy, next year I don’t think we’ll see seven on sevens at the Bon Secours training center.

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Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

The Redskins moved the ball well against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but continued red zone woes again sent Washington home with a loss. While the late November schedule proved brutal for the 'Skins, playing two games in five days, now the Redskins come to Arizona for an early December game with fresh legs and ample rest. Played indoors at University of Phoenix Stadium, weather will not be a factor for the 4 p.m. EST kick, but all the action starts on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at 3 p.m. Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Keep it moving - Kirk Cousins showed he likes to get hot in the second half of the season during 2015. The quarterback's play late last year won the 'Skins the NFC East, and while a division title is out of reach with the Cowboys already at 11 wins, Cousins again looks to be on a heater. In three games since the bye, Cousins has thrown for more than 1,000 yards to go with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The No. 1 story for the 'Skins is Cousins, and if he keeps his hot streak going, Washington should find itself in position to win in Arizona.
  2. Missing in action - This will be the final game of a four-game suspension for left tackle Trent Williams, and the Washington offensive line has performed admirably in his absence. Arguably more important this week will be the absence of tight end Jordan Reed, who suffered a serious shoulder injury in Dallas. What's wild about Reed - he came back to play in the second half against the Cowboys - and score two touchdowns - while playing with a separated shoulder. Reed did not practice this week, and Jay Gruden said his range of motion in the shoulder is just too limited to go against the Cardinals. 
  3. Consider the source - The Redskins offense might be the most potent group in this game, but Washington would be foolish to sleep on the Cardinals. Arizona was widely considered a Super Bowl contender coming into the season, and though they are in the midst of a disappointing year at 4-6-1, a win against the Skins could get the Cards back on the playoff track. Arizona running back David Johnson is the 3rd leading rusher in the NFL with 921 yards on the ground, not to mention an additional 613 yards receiving. Gruden on Johnson, "He is probably the best all-around back there is in the National Football League right now as far as being able to move outside, be a great route runner but also run between the tackles and run outside with his speed. So it’s going to be a matchup problem." Defensively, the Redskins ranks 25th in the NFL at stopping the run. Watch out for David Johnson.
  4. Problems don't just go away - Look at just about any metric on the Redskins offense, and the results are impressive: No. 2 in yards-per-game, No. 2 in yards-per-play, No. 2 in pass yards-per-game. But for all the yards, the 'Skins don't score at a corresponding clip as they rank 9th in the NFL in points. The culprit? Red zone troubles. "There are so many good things we’re doing on offense to put a damper on what they’re doing offensively with the red zone. It’s hard to do, but it’s something that is a glaring weakness of this football team right now," Gruden said of his team. The best road to wins for the Redskins is by scoring, ideally at least 30 points, and that will require some success inside the 20s.
  5. The harder they fall - If the Arizona offense has an Achilles heel, it's their offensive line. Carson Palmer has been sacked 16 times in the Cards last four games, and the 'Skins need to focus on bringing Palmer down. Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy - who will be playing in his hometown - have been the leaders at getting sacks for Joe Barry's defense, and Preston Smith could be in line for another big game. Getting to Carson Palmer should be among the defense's top priorities, as that can slow Larry Fitzgerald and the Cards pass game.

Numbers & Notes:

  • DeSean Jackson's 67-yard reception in Dallas was a season long and his longest since a 77-yard touchdown vs. Buffalo in Week 15 of the 2015 season.
  • Kirk Cousins' 3,540 passing yards in 2016 now rank 10th-most in a single season in team history, and he still has five games left to play.
  • The Redskins offense ranks first in the NFL in percentage of fewest 3-and-out drives at 9.5 percent.
  • If Pierre Garçon can gain 137 receiving yards on Sunday, he will pass Michael Westbrook for 10th-most career receiving yards in team history.
  • With nine sacks, Ryan Kerrigan is one sack away from becoming the fifth member of the Redskins (Dexter Manley, 4; Charles Mann, 4; Andre Carter, 2; Brian Orakpo, 2) to post multiple 10-sack seasons since the NFL adopted sacks as an official statistic in 1982.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN 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!

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Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

As the Cowboys take their long week off after consecutive Thursday games the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and other wild card contenders are in action. Here is Tandler’s weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL.

—The Giants are on a six-game winning streak and while that’s not easy to do against any level of competition it needs to be pointed out that their slate was squishy-soft with the last five wins coming against teams that currently have losing records. Now things get real with a trip to play the Steelers and a home date against the Cowboys. I’m not really sure how good the Giants are but if they split these two games I’ll be more impressed with them than I am now.

—The 5-6 Eagles travel to play the Bengals, who are just about out of contention for a sixth straight playoff appearance at 3-7-1. In fact, the Eagles might be just about out of it, too. Their big problem is 3-6 conference record, which puts them behind several other wild card contenders in this tiebreaker. It’s important because that is the second tiebreaker behind head to head. It’s better for the Redskins if the Bengals win but it probably won’t matter much. The consensus in Philadelphia seems to be that the Eagles are a rebuilding team that got off to a hot start, kindling some unrealistic hopes and expectations for the rest of 2016.

—The team is the hottest pursuit of the Redskins is the Buccaneers, who travel to San Diego to play a game that starts at the same time as Washington-Arizona. The Chargers are 5-6 but they are buried in last in the tough AFC West. This game is a coin flip. Redskins fans should root for the Chargers. If the Bucs lose, the Redskins would still hold the second wild card at the end of the day even if they should lose to the Cardinals.

—The 5-6 Saints are on the fringes of the wild card picture. They host the Lions, who are leading the NFC North by a game and a half over the Vikings and two games over the Packers. It’s probably best if the Lions win, which would just about eliminate the Saints. Still, there is a scenario where the Lions go into a minor tailspin, lose the division to either the Packers or Vikings but have a good enough record to take the second wild card. So like with most games within the NFC until the dust settles some more, there is some upside and some downside no matter which team wins.

—That scenario where the Lions fade from the division lead become a whole lot less likely if the Texans can go to Green Bay and beat the Packers. This is an interconference game so it’s an easy call to pull for Houston.

—Seattle, with a three-game lead in the NFC West, hosts the Panthers, who are on the outer fringe of the wild card race at 4-7. Another loss likely would ensure that Carolina won’t be able to defend its NFC title. This isn’t a pivotal game but probably better if the Seahawks win to end it for the wounded but potentially dangerous Panthers.

—My one loss last week was the Seahawks giving 5.5 on the road to the Bucs. I won with the Saints over the Rams and the Falcons over the Cardinals. This week I’m giving the Seahawks another go, giving 7 to the Panthers, and I’m taking the Patriots -13.5 against the Rams (the loss of Gronk doesn’t do much to equalize these teams) and the Saints giving 6 to the Lions.

MORE REDSKINS: Betting on the Redskins' playoff chances