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Redskins' Gruden picks up the tempo with no-huddle sessions

Redskins' Gruden picks up the tempo with no-huddle sessions

The no-huddle offense was something of a source of frustration for Redskins fans last year.

It seemed that when the Redskins ran it, they were effective. They didn’t run it at all during their 0-3 start, not even in situations where they were playing from behind (which was nearly all of every game). Then going to the no-huddle attack jump-started their offense in their first win in Oakland. But it went back in the drawer after that and was pulled out only occasionally Just when it seemed to be working or showing signs of effectiveness, Robert Griffin III and company would go back to huddling up.

We don’t know if Jay Gruden is any more of a fan of the no-huddle than Mike and Kyle Shanahan are but we did see it during the OTA session that was open to the media on Wednesday. The players seemed to enjoy it and it was a topic of conversation afterward.

“We did a little no huddle today, working that stuff in,” said Griffin. “Like I said, we’ll be very multiple. We’ll figure out what we do best and that’s the process—continuing to do this, continuing to learn, getting the new guys and the rookies up to speed with the offense and even ourselves, continuing to master it.”

Griffin indicated that they still intended to be physical when running the hurry up. “Our coach has said we’re going to huddle up and try to play some smash mouth football and then we’re going to no-huddle and still play some smash mouth football,” he said

Gruden, of course, is not going to discuss how much he plans to utilize a no-huddle attack. We’ll have to wait to see how the regular season games unfold before we can get a handle on that. Regardless, he sees a lot of value in running it this time of year. The benefits extend to both sides of the ball.

“We’re trying to pick up the tempo,” he said. “Also, from a communications standpoint, football is a lot about communication nowadays. A lot of teams are running a no-huddle, so from a defensive standpoint, you’ve got to be able to communicate your calls, get in the right front and talk about it and make sure everybody is on the same page.

“Offensively, it’s a good way to dictate tempo and keep defenses from substituting and keep them out of their blitz packages, all that good stuff. There’s a reason for us offensively to utilize it and there’s a reason not only from a point of view on game day, but also getting our defense ready for that kind of attack on Sundays.”

Gruden said that the no-huddle is growing in popularity around the league so the defense needs to be ready to face it. He specifically mentioned the Eagles, who rarely huddle in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced attack. The Redskins face them twice this year with the first meeting coming in Week 3.

Jason Hatcher appreciated the conditioning aspect of going against the up tempo offense on a warm June day in Virginia. “I think that was a great deal today because it was humid out here,” he said. “We got a lot of plays back to back, maybe eight, nine, 10 plays. It’s something that we really need to focus on as a team.”

One aspect of the no-huddle period that Hatcher didn’t like was that Griffin was able to use the hard count to draw the defense offside on a few occasions. “Some of those plays there down the stretch with five, 10 seconds on the clock you jump offside and give them a first down,” he said. “You’ve got to go and be a very fundamentally sound defense.”

Griffin got some satisfaction out of getting the defense to jump but he said that we shouldn’t read too much into what happened on one day. “It’s just a constant battle of X’s and O’s and mind games with the offense and defense,” he said. “Sometimes you get them, today happened

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Losers of two straight games and for the first time in a month outside of the playoff picture, a desperate Redskins squad travels to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. All the action kicks off on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at noon, but to get ready for the action, here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Getting back to good, or at least decent - Two weeks ago the Redskins seemed like a dangerous playoff squad with a strong offense and an improving defense. After two straight losses where Joe Barry's defense has given up 62 total points, the questions are mounting for Washington. Can the defense get stops on 3rd down? Generate a turnover? The good news for the Redskins is that the Eagles are struggggggling. Their offense has not score more than 15 points in three straight weeks. 
  2. Feed the fat one - After giving Rob Kelley just 28 carries in the last two games, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay owned up to the Redskins lack of run game, "I definitely feel like I could’ve been more patient on some of those early down and distances where you get a little bit pass-heavy. And that’s something that as a decision-maker and as a coordinator, I have to do a better job." In a Week 6 win Kelley and Matt Jones piled up more than 200 rush yards against the Eagles. The 'Skins offense likely won't feature Jones, but expect McVay to feed Fat Rob plenty on Sunday.
  3. Playing in pain - The Redskins offense features a number of dynamic playmaking threats, but arguably the best is tight end Jordan Reed. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Reed separated his left shoulder, and though he finished that game he was forced out of action in Arizona. Expect Reed to be back Sunday, and expect Kirk Cousins to look for him early and often. On the season, Reed has more than 600 receiving yards and five TDs.
  4. If it ain't broke - Kirk Cousins has had more success against the Eagles than any other team in the NFC East. In four career games against Philly, COusins averages 336 yards per game passing to go with a 101.3 QB rating. He's thrown 10 touchdowns against the Eagles to just two interceptions. The biggest win of his career came last year when Cousins and the 'Skins clinched the NFC East title at Lincoln Financial Field. Cousins suceeds against the Eagles, and there's no reason it should stop Sunday. 
  5. Don't fly away - Rumors are starting to circulate that the Eagles would like to bring back DeSean Jackson next season. It's well known that Jackson will probably hit free agency after this season, and if Philly did pursuit their former playmaker, it would make sense. But between now and then, Jackson has another opportunity to torch his former team and help the Skins pursue a Wild Card bid at the same time. In his past two games, Jackson and COusins have connected on deep patterns, and there's little reason to tbink the same won't happen Sunday.

Numbers & Notes

  • If tight end Vernon Davis catches three passes he will become the 12th tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions.
  • With two more catches, wide receiver Jamison Crowder will set a single-season career high in receptions. He caught 59 passes in 2015.
  • If the Redskins win would mark five straight victories against the Eagles for the Redskins for the first time since a six-game winning streak in the series across the 1981-84 seasons.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!