The Redskins go into OTAs with competition for jobs and depth chart position at several spots on the field. Over the next week, Redskins insiders Rich Tandler and J.P. Finlay look at how these competitions stand right now and they each make the case for a potential winner.
The Redskins never really got settled at what is essentially a starting position in a league where three- and four-wide receiver sets are the norm. Dashaun Phillips played the slot the first few games before a combination of a hamstring injury and ineffectiveness put him on the bench. Rookie third-round pick Kendall Fuller took over and it was hoped he would seize the job for a long time. But he got lit up with quarterbacks posting a 120 passer rating when throwing into his coverage, per Pro Football Focus. Fuller wound up being a healthy scratch late in the season. Veteran Greg Toler handled the slot down the stretch.
Toler was not re-signed. Phillips and Fuller are back but it is not just a two-man competition for the nickel corner spot. While Bashaud Breeland would rather stay at one of the outside spots in his contract year (outside corners get paid more than slot guys), they could put Quinton Dunbar or rookie Fabian Moreau outside in nickel situations and have Breeland slide inside. While rookie seventh-round pick Josh Holsey is a long shot to land the job but as long as the job remains unsettled he will get a look.
And the winner is . . .
Tandler: Last year was a year to forget for Fuller. He suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee that ended his final year at Virginia Tech after three games. The injury hampered him during the offseason program and in training camp. Fuller was inactive for the first three games in part because of the knee and in part because he wasn’t ready. He struggled mightily, as noted above. But with the third-round pick invested in him, I think he gets first crack at grabbing the nickel job this year. Many analysts had Fuller rated as a first-round talent before his injury. If he is fully healthy I think that he has a very good shot at taking the job and not giving it up.
Finlay: No surprise that Tandler picked his fellow Hokie Fuller to take over the nickel cover spot. Fuller is a better player than he showed last year, but he will have to prove that starting in minicamp. Coaches lost their faith in him, particularly when he got torched by Stef Diggs and the Vikings. A full NFL offseason and a healthy knee could make a big difference. One name I would throw in that Tandler didn't mention would be Will Blackmon. The veteran was forced to move to safety in 2016 because the Redskins lacked viable options, but with an offseason that added D.J. Swearinger via free agency and Montae Nicholson in the draft, not to mention moving Su'a Cravens full-time to safety and the expected healthy return of DeAngelo Hall, Blackmon might be able to move back to corner. Playing primary nickel corner in the second half of the 2015 season, Blackmon made plays, logging two interceptions and three forced fumbles to go with eight broken up passes. Fuller might have the inside track, but I wouldn't count out the veteran Blackmon. There's also a scenario where Fabian Moreau could force his way onto the field, likely as an outside corner. If that happens, expect Breeland to bump inside. This would likely not happen until the midway point of the season at the earliest as Moreau is working back from injury and will need to learn the NFL game.
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Week 2 of the NFL preseason is here as the Redskins take on the Packers on Saturday night.
Following the Redskins' 23-3 loss to the Ravens in Week 1, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins starters will look to continue their development again against Green Bay. Head coach Jay Gruden plans to play the starters for at least a full quarter.
The Redskins-Packers preseason game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. and will be aired on CSN Mid-Atlantic. Redskins Kickoff begins a 6:30 p.m. ET, as Chick Hernandez, Brian Mitchell and Trevor Matich get your prepared for the game with 60 minutes of pregame coverage. (Channel Finder)
CSN Mid-Atlantic is here to provide all the live updates, stats, score, highlights, video and analysis from the Redskins and Ravens. If you have a comment about the game, be sure to leave a comment in the section below the article.
REDSKINS VS. PACKERS WEEK 2 PRESEASON LIVE UPDATES
5:10 PM - Preseason games are what they are: Not all that great after the first quarter. But there's value in the games. Here are the three things you should be watching for.
5:05 PM - I implore you to follow me on Twitter. I'm great. You can also follow Our @CSNRedskins account, which is equally great. Our Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler are OK too.
5:00 PM - The 2017 NFL preseason rolls on as the Redskins take on the Packers in Week 2 of the preseason at FedEx Field. As is the case again this season, I am Troy Machir, and I will be guiding you through the live blog of tonight's preseason game.
Remember that playoff game at the end of the 2015 season? Or the Sunday Night Football rout from last year? Well, Saturday night when the Redskins take on the Packers in the second game of the preseason, much less will be on the line, but that doesn't mean the game doesn't have plenty to watch.
All the coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on CSN, and will feature a 1-on-1 interview where Jay Gruden explains exactly what he's looking for from his team. The first preseason game in Baltimore was a poor showing for the Redskins, and Gruden wants to see his squad look much better at home against Green Bay. The weather looks perfect for an August evening, and here are three things to keep in mind in advance of the contest.
- They're gonna play - Last season, Gruden unexpectedly sat many of his starters for the second preseason game. The move set off mild chaos, especially when Colt McCoy got the start over Kirk Cousins. It was just the coach resting players, reducing the risk of a preseason injury, but it was a big surprise. And it was also probably a mistake. This year, Gruden made clear the starters will play in the second preseason game, and Cousins will start against Green Bay. The starting offense only took six snaps against the Ravens last week, and generated zero first downs. While the first downs are no guarantee, expect the first unit to play more than six snaps, likely at least double, and some offensive production should follow suit.
- Well, not everybody - The long wait for Redskins fans to finally see Junior Galette on the field will continue. The pass rush specialist hasn't played since 2014, and has never suited up for Washington. He won't play Saturday night, and neither will star tight end Jordan Reed. A few others will likely miss the game, but many eyes will be on Josh Doctson. After a slight hamstring injury suffered in Richmond, the second-year wideout missed the Ravens game and a number of practices before getting back out there Thursday and catching a few passes from Cousins in team drills. Gruden said of Doctson, "we’ll get a look at him during pregame warmup and see where he stands and try to get him out there. We’ll see." On the Green Bay side, Aaron Rodgers is not expected to play either.
- The other side - Much of the focus has been on the offense needing to perform, particularly the run game. Keep in mind, however, the Redskins defense performed well in Baltimore. Greg Manusky's unit will look to keep the strong work going, especially from the first team. One change on the Redskins defense: free agent addition Zach Brown will move into the starting lineup and play alongside Mason Foster as the two interior linebackers. That means 2016 defensive captain Will Compton starts the game on the bench. Preston Smith should also be back on the field and starting opposite Ryan Kerrigan; Smith missed the Ravens game with a sprained ankle. No word yet on rookie linebacker Ryan Anderson, who suffered a stinger in Baltimore. Gruden on Anderson, "we’re going to let him dress in pregame warmup on Saturday and see where he is. He has total mobility now back, I think he’s fine, but we just want to make sure he has strength back."
News and notes:
- Saturday marks the eighth time the Redskins and Packers have played in the preseason since 1961. In regular season and postseason play, the Packers hold a 20-15-1 record against the Redskins.
- In their last two meetings, the Redskins rocked the Pack 42-24 last November on Sunday Night Football. It was the high point of Washington's season, as the 'Skins skidded from there and missed the playoffs, losing four of their final six games. 10 months earlier, the Packers knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs in almost equally one-sided fashion. The game was early, but Green Bay proved to be too tough for Washington, and the Redskins lost on their home turf after a surprising NFC East title run.
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