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Redskins hit the road looking to take 1st place

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Redskins hit the road looking to take 1st place

What: Redskins (3-3) vs. Giants (4-2)

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Fox WTTG-5

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet at noon and 4

Outlook: With Robert Griffin III under center, the Redskins almost always produce enough points. 

The problem six games into the 2012 season has been preventing them. And, once again, that figures to be challenge No. 1 for Washington’s defense as it squares off against an Eli Manning-led Giants’ team that’s coming off a convincing, 26-3 victory in San Francisco.

Manning struggled in a pair of losses to the Redskins a season ago, tossing a total of four interceptions and no touchdowns. 

So far this season, though, Manning has consistently ranked among the NFL’s top passers. The two-time Super Bowl winner has thrown for the third most yards (1,772), the seventh most touchdowns (11) and has been sacked fewer times than any other starter (4). 

But what should concern the Redskins most about Manning is this statistic: He’s also tied for the third most passing plays over 25 yards with 15.

Pass defense and susceptibility to big plays, of course, has been Washington’s weakness for much of season. In fact, the Redskins have allowed the most passing yards (1,970), the most passing first downs (97) and are tied for most passing touchdowns yielded (15). They're also tied for the seventh most passing yards allowed per play (7.9).

Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson were instrumental in limiting the Vikings’ big plays in last week’s 38-26 victory. But they’ll be tested by Giants’ star wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is tied for second in touchdown receptions (6) and third in total receptions (43). Hakeem Nicks, meantime, returned from a three-game absence last week because of a knee injury and is expected to be closer to 100-percent against the Redskins after practicing on a Wednesday for the first time all season.

The Redskins’ strength on defense has been stopping the run. The Ryan Kerrigan and Stephen Bowen-led unit ranks 10th in yards allowed on the ground has only permitted three rushing touchdowns.

But they’ll be facing the NFL’s hottest running back in Ahmad Bradshaw, who has rushed for 200 and 116 yards, respectively, the past two weeks. He also scored twice.

As you can see, it’s likely the Redskins’ defense will have its hands full. But if it can produce another bend-but-don’t-break performance against the defending champions, and Griffin has another solid outing, it’s not unreasonable to expect a typical NFC East contest. Which is to say a nail-bitter that could turn way late.  

Here are three additional areas the team at www.csnwashington.com will be monitoring:

1- Griffin was the toast of the league last week following his 76-yard, victory-clinching run against the Vikings. For the season, he leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards (379) and, just as impressively, completion percentage (70.2).

But Sunday’s showdown will be unfamiliar territory for the rookie. His introduction to the NFC East will come on the road, against the defending Super Bowl champion quarterback and with first place in the division up for grabs.

Griffin, however, insisted that the increased stakes won’t alter his approach. 

“A couple of years ago, my Dad told me you jump the same way you jump at 6’8” that you do at 6’0,” he said, harkening back to his days as track and field star. “So for me, you always keep your preparation the same, whether it’s the Giants or anyone else.”

2- All indications are that the Redskins’ top wide receiver, Pierre Garçon, will miss his second straight game and fourth overall with a nagging foot injury. 

Fred Davis, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan have done a nice job picking up the slack, combining for 943 yards. At some point, though, the lack of an elite downfield and red zone threat will catch up with them. (The Redskins are tied for 26th in touchdown receptions with 6.)

Mike Shanahan said he hopes that rest, treatment and injections will get Garçon back on the field. But as the coach said this week, the injury is “very much a mystery.”  

3- Alfred Morris had his lowest production as a professional last Sunday, rushing for 47 yards (on 16 carries), or roughly half of his typical output, against Minnesota. 

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said the downturn was the result of a Vikings’ defense that’s been good against the run and the fact that Morris was used more on a quick-hitting plays. 

On Sunday, Morris will face a Giants front that’s led by defensive ends Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Jason Pierre Paul and is widely considered among the NFL’s best. The unit has held four of its six opponents to a team total of 84 or fewer yards on the ground.

Morris is also contending with the reality that he’s no longer an unknown. Opponents now have six games of film to study.

That said, Kyle Shanahan is not concerned.

“He’s going to get his yards and people are going to have to commit to him,” Shanahan said. “ And when they do, it opens up other people.”

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Kerrigan insists he would've won state hoops title — if not for two NBA lottery picks

Kerrigan insists he would've won state hoops title — if not for two NBA lottery picks

Watch the full segment in the video player above

Ryan Kerrigan's 47.5 career sacks and 17 career forced fumbles are evidence that becoming an NFL player was the right career path for him to take. But football wasn't the only sport he played back as a high schooler in Muncie, Indiana.

"Baseball, I was a baseball player," Kerrigan said when Redskins Insider J.P. Finlay asked him what his secondary endeavors were as a teenager. "I was on the basketball team, [but] I wouldn't really call myself a 'player' 'cause that would've required me getting off the bench," he added.

While it sounds like the Bearcats' bench was plenty warm thanks to the now 27-year-old, Kerrigan did get the chance to be a part of a marquee matchup against some other soon-to-be-famous guys.

"My high school team was really good," he said. "State runner-up twice, and would've been state champs, I'd imagine, if we didn't run into Greg Oden and Mike Conley."

Oden and Conley, of course, both turned into stars on a 2007 Ohio State outfit that lost to Florida in the NCAA title game that year (which must've felt like justice being served to Kerrigan). They then went on to be lottery picks in the 2007 NBA Draft, and Conley just recently became the league's highest-paid man. So you could imagine how much of a handful they were in high school.

Some quick research reveals that Lawrence North (the squad that featured the two Buckeyes) topped Muncie Central (Kerrigan's side) in 2005 and 2006. No. 91 didn't specify which one of those championship bouts he was referring to, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that his legs didn't get too sore from sitting on the pine, and he eventually ended up with the Redskins.

RELATED: A TRIO OF REDSKINS PLAYED A LITTLE SOCCER ON THURSDAY

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Redskins' Josh Doctson not sure when he will return, won't rush Achilles injury

Redskins' Josh Doctson not sure when he will return, won't rush Achilles injury

RICHMOND - After starting training camp on the PUP list, Redskins rookie WR Josh Doctson does not know when he will return to the field, but knows he won't rush back from his Achilles injury. Doctson spoke following the Redskins afternoon practice, and voiced an odd mix of reasons to be optimistic and worried for Washington fans. 

First the positive:

"Today was my first day rehabbing it," Doctson said. "Definitely further along than I what thought I was going to be. That's definitely a good sign to get back faster."

Then the worrisome:

"I got to wait till morning and see how it feels," Doctson said. "You never know in the morning."

REDSKINS RANKS: WHO'S AT THE TOP?

The TCU wideout could not provide a timeline for his return, and balked at the chance to provide a percentage to describe his health. What Doctson was clear on, however, was he will not rush back from the injury despite his desire to be practicing.

"Everybody wants to play football," he said. "You can’t rush it. I rushed it in OTAs and did what I did. I'm just going to be patient this time and make sure I’m 100 percent before I touch the field again."

Redskins coach Jay Gruden echoed Doctson's comments, saying that the team doesn't want the rookie on the field until he is 100 percent. And, while training camp is certainly important, if Doctson is to miss time, better in July than in September. 

Scot McCloughan drafted the 6-foot-3, 195 lbs. Doctson for his explosive atheltic ability, so it makes sense that the organization in no way wants to risk serious injury. Gruden talked about the siginifcance an Achilles injury could bring, especially for an athlete like Doctson, as reason for extreme caution.

For his part, the rookie is keeping a level head despite his frustrations at not practicing.

"I'm blessed to be here, regardless of the situation. I made it."

 

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Redskins' RT Moses is taking nothing for granted

Redskins' RT Moses is taking nothing for granted

RICHMOND—A year ago Morgan Moses came to training camp here with many questions about his future. He had missed the entire offseason program after suffering a Lisfranc injury the previous season. The team had just drafted Brandon Scherff with the fifth overall pick and he was put in at right tackle. Trent Williams had the left side locked down. It looked like he might wait a while for his turn.

But things have a way of changing quickly in the NFL. A week into camp the Redskins switched things up, moving Scherff to right guard and inserting Moses into the starting job in Scherff’s former job. Moses started all 17 games and earned high marks for his performance.

This year he comes to camp atop the depth chart and with all of the first-team reps during OTAs and minicamp under his belt. That is helping him feel more comfortable in his role.

“Being able to get the OTAs in that I didn't get the year before just helped me transition,” Moses said today. “I'm still learning, I'm still a young player but you can only take one day at a time.”

Although Moses doesn’t appear to have any serious challengers for his starting job he said that he is taking nothing for granted.

“You can never get complacent,” he said. “That's the thing about the NFL. You see faces one day and they're gone the next day. You still fight for your position.”

Assuming Moses does hold on to his job, the next thing he will be fighting for is a new contract. He will be eligible to get a contract extension after the regular season ends. The Redskins have shown a pattern of locking up their best young players before they hit free agency and Moses certainly will be a candidate if he plays well.