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.
Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings?
Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit.
CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS
Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.
Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.
Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.
That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed.
Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.
2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:
* Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans
Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today …
Finlay: There's a lot to do on the Redskins defensive line, and it starts in the middle. Expect free agent addition Stacy McGee to have a big opportunity to take over the nose tackle job. McGee ranked as a +5.5 run defender last season as rated by Pro Football Focus, and at 6-foot-3 and 308 lbs., he has the size to man the middle. McGee has plenty of talent, health has been his hiccup. He has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons, and in 2016, he played only nine games.
Beyond McGee, the Redskins have some lottery tickets. Practice squad players A.J. Francis and Joey Mbu both have the size to play nose, but neither have the experience. Could Francis or Mbu emerge for significant snaps with the Washington defense? Sure, but it would be unexpected.
A bigger lottery ticket remains. Phil Taylor, a former first-round pick in 2012, has shown serious talent at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-3 and 337 lbs., Taylor certainly has the size for the spot. At the same time, Taylor hasn't played an NFL game since 2014, losing both 2015 and 2016 to injury. Counting on Taylor would be short-sighted, but if he can remain healthy, there could be big value.
According to Jay Gruden, the most important piece of the nose tackle puzzle will come from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Gruden said he expects Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle and improve the Redskins D-line. It's a tall order, but Tomsula has an impressive track record working in the trenches.
Tandler: The organization’s refusal to get a legitimate nose tackle either in free agency or in the draft will lead to them again spend the spring and summer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
That’s what they did last year with Ziggy Hood. He took a lot of snaps at nose tackle and he simply wasn’t a fit for the job. It wasn’t his fault that the Redskins allowed a league-worst 5.0 yards per rushing attempt on first down; he’s an end and he was much more effective there.
Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, also took some snaps at nose, with similar results. At 6-3, 308, he just doesn’t have the size to be effective.
The worst part of it here is that they really can’t get too far in identifying the 2017 nose tackle. In the spring with no pads and no contact allowed they really can’t do much besides work on technique and learn assignments. Tomsula’s effort to “make” a nose tackle won’t really get going until they get to Richmond in late August.
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