ORCHARD PARK, NYIn summary: Most of the focus Thursday night in Buffalo was on Robert Griffin III, and rightfully so. But there were a handful of other storylines that unfolded on the artificial turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium.For your fill of RGIII, check out Rich Tandlers wall-to-wall coverage of the rookie quarterbacks professional debut. When youre done with that, come back here for everything else you need to know about the game.MVP: Pierre Garon led all pass catchers with three receptions for 58 yards (19.3 yards per) and the games only touchdown. The first-year Redskin and No. 1 wide receiver also looked to be inbound on the sideline catch he made on the first drive. If he had been given credit for it, Garcon would have hauled in all four passes thrown his way.Offensive play of the game: Admittedly, there werent many offensive highlights. But the nod has to go to Garons 20-yard touchdown reception. On a bubble screen to the left, Garon burst through the line, made a cut and got a crucial block downfield from Trent Williams, who occupied two defensive backs as Garon flipped into the end zone.We definitely needed that, Garon said. The first two drives were a little bit tough but were happy we ended off that third touchdown.Injury update: Speaking of Williams, the Redskins tackle said his left footankle was stepped on during the scoring play. He said X-rays were negative, but he had a pronounced limp as he walked from the locker room to the team bus.I just got stepped on, Williams said. Im fine.Asked if hell practice on Saturday, he added: Well see. It depends on how I feel in the morning. Its nothing serious.Williams was injured making that critical block downfield. Teammate Maurice Hurt was shoved into him from behind.Defensive play of the game: Late in the second quarter and the Redskins leading 7-3, rookie cornerback Richard Crawford made an over-the-shoulder interception of a Tyler Thigpen pass along the sideline. Crawford, a seventh round draft pick out of SMU who has shined through the first two weeks of training camp, returned the ball 16 yards.I used to play receiver, Crawford said, so I have to catch the interceptions.Breakthrough performance: Crawford gets a hat tip here, too. In addition to the interception, he made three punt returns for a total of 42 yards, including a long of 17.Its good just to get the nerves out, just to realize that you can play everybody else, Crawford said. Just gaining confidence, and thats pretty much what I did tonight.What they said: Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams on Griffin: It was pretty obvious they protected him. They did not want him to get hit. Its kind of hard to judge him because I do not thing we saw everything they are going to do with him this year.What they said, Part II: Royster on Griffins on-field leadership: He did well. I was surprised when he actually audibled a play at the right time. I was sitting back there like, You have to change this play. I was surprised that he caught onto it and it actually ended up being a successful play.What they said, Part III: Asked about his flip into the end zone, Garon cracked that he was inspired by the gymnastics competition at the Olympics.I need to work on my landing, though, he joked. I didnt know I was going to do it until I was in the air. Tried to do my little Gabby Douglas.Armageddon avoided: The injuries along the offensive line the unit was minus starters Kory Lichtensteiger, Jammal Brown and Chris Chester seemed to hold the potential for disaster for the Redskins and their rookie quarterback.But thats not how it unfolded. Backups Hurt, Adam Gettis and Tyler Polumbus proved more than adequate against a first team Bills defense. Polumbus was especially impressive against standout defensive end Mario Williams.Accepting blame: Although the official box score CHARGES Griffin with a fumble lost, running back Evan Royster said he should have held onto the ball, despite the fact that the handoff was low.Its tough to say, but Ill take the full blame, said Royster, who bounced back and rushed for 12, five and two yards on consecutive plays to set up Garons touchdown.Full stat line: Linebacker Bryan Kehl had six combined tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass defended.The Redskins return to the field Saturday.
Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 27, 2 days before the March 1 NFL franchise tag deadline.
—NFL Combine (3/2) 3
—Start of NFL free agency (3/9) 10
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 49
—NFL Draft (4/27) 59
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 195
Monday morning Redskins musings as free agency approaches
1. It appears that the Raiders are going to let Latavius Murray, who rushed for over 1,800 yards combined in the last two seasons, test free agency.
I'm told #OAK expects to let RB Latavius Murray go into FA. Source: "The door will remain open for a posb return after he tests his market."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 26, 2017
I’d be surprised if the Redskins showed any interest. I’m not sure that they will be jumping into the RB free agent pool, at least not into the deep (expensive) end of it. They might draft a back to compete with Rob Kelley, Matt Jones, and Mack Brown. Chris Thompson will remain the third-down back.
2. Do you wonder why the Redskins have been reluctant to draft a safety?
It's a tough eval because it's such a scheme-specific position now in the NFL. Moneybacker, center fielder, big nickel box guy. https://t.co/TUxVO8GD4r— Doug Farrar (@BR_DougFarrar) February 26, 2017
Eventually, someone will need to figure out the safety position in the NFL. With all the spread offenses that safeties face in college the safeties have become more like additional corner. Also, the better defensive backs in college want to be cornerbacks because it pays better in the pros. The pool coming out is generally small to begin with and then it shrinks even further for each team due to the scheme factors that Farrar discusses. Su'a Cravens could be the solution to one safety spot for the Redskins but they continue to be in search of someone to pair with him.
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3. The Jets allowed C Nick Mangold to announce his own release. He was one of the best centers of the past decade; Mangold went to seven Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro twice. But I don’t see him being of interest to the Redskins. They are happy with Spencer Long and even if they weren’t, Mangold is 33 and he missed half of last season with an ankle injury. Those factors likely will make the Redskins steer clear.
4. Maybe some fans don’t care if they are getting information from the team through the media at the combine. Or at the Senior Bowl. Or anywhere. And it is the team’s option to have someone available or not during most of the offseason (a press conference prior to the draft is mandatory). But they are missing out on a chance to give their side of the story.
One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.
More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?
5. We have another D-lineman signed as the Panthers retained DE Mario Addison.
The #Panthers signed DE Mario Addison to a 3-year deal worth $22.5M, source said. At 29 years old, he had 9.5 sacks in 2016.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2017
Addison, who was with the Redskins for five games in 2012, also had six and 6.5 sacks the previous two year, not bad for a guy who has started just one game in the last three seasons. That average of just over $7 million per year sets another data point for the Redskins to use to try to retain Chris Baker. Addison is a 4-3 end while Baker is a 3-4 end so it’s not an apples to apples comparison but it will help figuring out what a reasonable contract is. Without seeing the details, it looks like Addison gave the Panthers something of a hometown discount as that’s a good price for a guy who was half a sack away from double digits.
In case you missed it
- A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Combine
- Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?
- Sunday six pack—Cousins' next step and a positive step for Doctson
This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.
The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis.
The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.
Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6.
With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too.
Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.
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