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Putting the Special Back in "Teams"

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Putting the Special Back in "Teams"

Is John Hall in danger of being replaced?

The Redskins made their second veteran free agent signing in three weeks yesterday, adding former Carolina Panther Brian Allen to roster. From Redskins.com: The Redskins continued to add to their depth and special teams with the signing of free agent linebacker Brian Allen, formerly with the Carolina Panthers, on Wednesday.

Allen, 6-0 and 232 pounds, has appeared in 46 regular season and four postseason games during his four-year NFL career, making nine starts. He has amassed 133 tackles (72 solo), one sack and one interception.

. . .

Primarily utilized on special teams, Allen was a member of the Panther's kickoff coverage team that ranked fifth in the NFL in 2003.

Allen will continue his status of being primarily a special teams guy. His signing comes after the acquisition of Buffalo's Pierson Prioleau, a safety in name only, a special teams player by trade.

After the 2004 season ended, Joe Gibbs expressed the need for the Redskins to upgrade their "teams" as he calls the kicking units. They certainly were nothing special about the results from those units last year. Out of the 32 NFL teams the Redskins were 20th in punt return average, 12th in kickoff return average, 26th in punt return defense and 14th in kickoff return defense. That's a mixed bag of the mediocre and the awful.

The Redskins probably aren't done with making adjustments to the "teams". After signing just camp-fodder variety kickers to compete with John Hall the past two seasons, they will have some real competition for Hall, who missed half of last season with an assortment of injuries. Washington signed Jeff Chandler after putting Hall on injured reserve towards the end of last season. Chandler showed enough, including kicking four FG's against the 49ers, including a 49 yarder to warrant a new contract from the Redskins and a chance to battle for the position.

Chandler is five years younger than Hall, who turned 31 on St. Patrick's Day this year. Certainly that's not old for a kicker but add to that the injury issues and Hall's $1.4 million cap hit for 2004 and you have a vulnerable veteran in Hall.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

One of the longest eras in NASCAR will come to an end concluding the 2017 season.

Early on Tuesday morning, Hendrick Motorsports announced that 18-year veteran, longtime Redskins fan and popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. would retire at the conclusion of the current season.

Earnhardt, son of the late legendary seven-time champion, Dale Earnhardt Sr., told his No. 88 team members before the organization released the news.

Last season, the 42-year-old missed the final 18 races of the NASCAR season due to a concussion. The injury resulted in a 32nd place finish in the NASCAR standings and it was the first time he missed the association's 'playoffs' since 2010. 

Throughout his long career, Earnhardt captured 26 race wins, two being the elusive Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. Due to the legendary status of his father, he never quite lived up to the level many placed on the Earnhardt family name. His win total is roughly a third of his father's and has not won a championship. Best career points finish for Earnahrdt was third in 2003, and finished fifth three times (2004, 2006, 2013). Starting in 603 total races, he has finished in the top 10 in nearly half of those races, 253 times.

Despite the lack of a championship, he was named NASCAR's most popular driver 14 times, trailing only Bill Elliott who won that honor 16 seasons. 

RELATED: EARNHARDT FORCED TO RACE IN EAGLES-THEMED CAR

At the end of 2017, Earnhardt's contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire after 10 seasons with NASCAR's most successful team. Prior to his tenure with Hendrick, he was a part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. for eight years where he won 17 of his total 26 race wins. 

Currently, Earnhardt is 24th in the NASCAR standings, 50 points behind the cut-off for the final playoff spot. There are still 18 races remaining in the season for him to make up the ground with some of his best tracks still on the docket. In addition, a win would boost Earnhardt up into a playoff spot due to NASCAR's playoff system. 

With Earnhardt Jr. retiring, there will be one Earnhardt remaining in the Monster Energy Cup Series to carry the family name. Grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr., and nephew of Jr., Jeffery Earnhardt is a regular in the series. 

Hendrick Motorsports announced in their release that they will not name a replacement for Earnhardt Jr. just yet. During his 18-race absence in 2016, he was replaced by a young prospect, Alex Bowman and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon.

It is anticipated either Bowman or 19-year-old William Byron, who Rick Hendrick signed to an Xfinity Series contract last season, will take his place. 

As a lifetime fan of the Washington football team, Earnhardt has been known to put his opinion of the team out there.

He was not happy with how the team handled Scot McCloughan situation, and publicly voiced his support of Kirk Cousins

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One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

Football coaches hate fumbles, and Jay Gruden is no different. Remember that Matt Jones had established himself as the Redskins lead running back despite persistent fumbling issues his first two years in the NFL. That was until a goal line fumble Week 7 in Detroit. Jones never played again in 2016. 

Fast forward to Thursday night's NFL Draft, and the buzz surrounding the Redskins interest in Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey could all boil down to fumbles.

Both Cook and McCaffrey visited Redskins Park, and both players possess the speed and game-breaking ability that could deliver big returns to the Washington offense. Since the NFL Combine, McCaffrey has emerged as the higher draft pick.

Their college statistics are fairly similar. Both players went for more than 5,000 total yards in three college seasons. The size is similar too, Cook gets listed at 6-foot, 209 lbs., while McCaffrey gets listed at 5-foot-11 and 203 lbs.

One area that's quite different: Fumbles. 

An average NFL running back fumbles once every 100 carries. Rich Tandler researched an incredible stat about the two players:

  • McCaffrey averages one fumble every 243 carries.
  • Cook averages one fumble every 63 carries. 

The difference is staggering. And it could be enough to keep the 'Skins away from Cook at 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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