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Redskins-Browns: After Further Review

Redskins-Browns: After Further Review

  • Leigh Torrence has Ade Jimoh's special teams prowess with better coverage skills. Despite the issues on the late deep pass that set up the game-winning field goal last week, one does not break into a cold sweat when Torrence is called upon to play nickel back. There was no such confidence with special teams ace "Uh-Oh" Jimoh lined up in coverage.
  • Not that I'm one to talk, but Ryan Plackemeier should either drop a few dozen pounds or wear a looser jersey. I know punters aren't real football players, but he looks like the guy at the mall who thinks he's ripped and wears too-tight shirts but the bulges are flab, not muscle. His punt was OK, just OK. He didn't shank one that let the other team score a field goal without needing a first down as his predecessor did last week, so I guess that represents an improvement.
  • On several occasions London Fletcher did exactly what you have to do to stop a big back. He got to Jamal Lewis in the backfield and hit him low. Lewis didn't always go down right away but he wasn't able to get any momentum and he was tackled quickly. Some of Lewis' best gains came on a toss sweep, away from the middle of the line and Fletcher.
  • There was some puzzling clock management at the end of the first half. The Redskins had the ball at their own 33 with 2:28 left in the half. Portis ran for seven and the team dawdled as the clock ran down to 2:00. Portis then broke loose for 20 to the Cleveland 40 and still there was no sense of urgency. The next snap came with 1:16 left. After a pass to Moss gained six, there was another leisurely huddle and then a snap with 41 seconds left. With 35 seconds left, the Redskins called their first timeout. They nearly ran out of time, but they were able to get a field goal attempt off on the last play of the half. Zorn said that he didn't want the Browns to have any time left to be able to score. Given that Cleveland hadn't even sniffed the Red Zone all half, I'm not sure why that was such an overriding concern.
  • As of halftime, Portis had outgained the entire Browns team, 75 yards to 59.
  • Shaun Alexander got a few touches in his debut. He told me that he was working off of a very limited package of running plays. As he stood in the locker room, his Redskins hat was so new that it still had the size sticker on the bill.
  • What's striking about Portis' running is that he gains yardage without the offensive line blowing the defense into the backfield snap after snap. The energy is focused on opening a hole and it doesn't have to be a very big one for Portis to slip through for five yards. It's not the Red Sea parting, it's more like a few strategically-placed rocks in a creek. On Portis' touchdown run, Lorenzo Alexander just push their men sideways while Randy Thomas gets about a yard of push. Jansen kind of bumps into his man, knocking him over, and tumbles into the end zone. Portis never set foot in the end zone but he got the ball across the plane of the goal line. There is no physical domination in the style of the Hogs, but it's smart blocking and Portis knows how to use it.
  • It was a slightly different story on a 27-yard Portis run early in the fourth quarter. On this one, the O-line got a good push and created a pile on the inside. At the point of attack, though, Samuels stepped back as if to pass block and just shoved his man out of the way. Portis got to the second level quickly and an Santana Moss block—nothing spectacular, he just stayed engaged with his man—sprung him. This was the middle play in the three-play drive that led to the Redskins' winning TD.
  • That came on a pass to Moss. A safety covering deep isn't much help when you send Moss streaking across the middle like that. The spin move to stay inbounds, make the tackler miss and get into the end zone isn't something you can teach.
  • That put the Redskins up 14-3. I'm going to break down the goal line stand tomorrow in the Tuesday Take, so I'll stop here.

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Need to Know: Redskins pre-camp 53-man roster projection, offense

Need to Know: Redskins pre-camp 53-man roster projection, offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 24, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.


The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 48 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 17
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

Redskins roster projection—offense

The Redskins strap it up and start the battle for roster spots in earnest in just three days. Some are locks, others are hoping to hang on. Here is my prediction of the roster will shake out along with players who are on the bubble. The offense is up today, the defense tomorrow.

Players I have making the roster who are new to the organization in 2017 are in italics. Rookies are also underlined.

Quarterback (3)

Starter: Kirk Cousins
Backups: Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld

Cousins and the team didn’t agree on the contract but that changes nothing for 2017. The elimination of two-a-day practices makes a fourth “camp arm” QB unnecessary so these three will handle all the snaps from now until when the season ends.   

Running backs (3)

Starter: Rob Kelley
Backups: Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson

Bubble: Mack Brown, Keith Marshall

Kelley skipped the drive-through window meals during the offseason, switching to a healthier diet to get himself in better shape. He will need to be strong to hold off Perine, who will make a push for playing time. Brown could be on or off depending on numbers elsewhere on the roster. If Marshall can stay healthy, he could force his way into the picture but the health is a big “if”.

Wide receivers (6)

Starters: Josh Doctson, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Backups: Maurice Harris, Ryan Grant, Robert Davis

Bubble: Brian Quick

I’m not sure if Grant, who caught nine passes while playing in all 16 games last year, should be a lock but it appears that he is. Davis is a projection; he has a lot to learn but if he is showing significant progress he could push out the veteran Quick, who was not impressive during the offseason practices.    

Tight ends (4)

Starter: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle

Bubble: Derek Carrier

Paul and Sprinkle could be considered on the bubble as well. The normal allowance is for three tight ends on the 53-man roster. Reed and Davis are locks, they need Paul for special teams, and Sprinkle is slated to be the blocking tight end. But Sprinkle needs to add a lot of polish to his game and Paul has the injury bug to fight. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Offensive line (9)

Starters (left to right): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses
Backups: Ty Nsekhe, Arie Kouandjio, Vinston Painter, Chase Roullier

Bubble: John Kling

The starters are locked in unless Kouandjio can come up with a huge camp and push Lauvao out of the starting job. Roullier could be the backup center but if he’s not ready the Redskins could look for a veteran off the waiver wire for that spot.

Offensive breakdown: 25 players, four rookies, a total of five new to the Redskins.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.


Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins: