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Redskins practice report, Day 8: Rookie Crowder shines

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Redskins practice report, Day 8: Rookie Crowder shines

RICHMOND—J. J. Watt and the Texans were in town today for the first of three days of joint practice. Watt did some, well, Watt-like things as will be noted in today’s Redskins practice report.

—The Texans don’t have any logos on their helmets or names on the back of their jerseys. The look is sort of reminiscent of Penn State, where Houston coach Bill O’Brien coached for a few years.

—A Houston rookie picked a bad time to muff a kickoff in the end zone. O’Brien was watching and came over and stood about five feet away from undrafted rookie Chandler Worthy. “You’ve got to field that [expletive] ball,” said O’Brien. The coach continued to stand there for a few minutes. Worthy had one of those “wanna get away” moments from the old Southwest commercials.

—The “experiment” of playing Brandon Scherff at right guard and moving Morgan Moses in at right tackle continued today. We will see if this continues in the future or if it is merely an evaluation and preparation in the event of injuries.

—Yesterday Jay Gruden said that Chris Thompson was developing in to quite a third-down back. Usually that means a player is a good receiver out of the backfield. But he was impressive running the ball today, showing great burst on a few runs. If he can keep that going he could get some carries on first and second downs, too.

J.J. Watt is not only big, he’s fast. The Redskins tried to run to the left, away from him, but he was over there in a flash. He just tagged the runner but it could have been a highlight-type of tackle for a three-yard loss in a live situation.

Jamison Crowder was one of the offensive stars of the session. He caught several passes working against the Texans’ first-team defense and he drew a flag when a defender had to grab him on a deep pass. We should tamp down the expectations meter since it’s early in training camp but the fourth-round pick is looking like quite a find.

—Wide receiver Rashad Ross became a fan favorite last year with a few good catches in camp and during the preseason. He made another nice grab today, going deep and taking Kirk Cousins’ pass away from cornerback A.J. Bouye.

Robert Griffin III got off to a rocky start in one set of full team work. His first pas was batted down by Watt. His second one was deflected by end Jared Crick. The offense did finish up the series with good run by Alfred Morris and a Griffin pass to Andre Roberts so it wasn’t all bad in that session.

Terrance Knighton was back to work today after missing yesterday’s practice with the flu.

Bill Callahan was having some words with Moses after Griffin had to scramble on a play. I’m not sure what it was about but Moses didn’t do much of anything after Watt shifted over and rushed against Scherff. Perhaps Callahan was suggesting that Moses should have picked another assignment.

—It’s a joint practice in early August so why not a fake field goal pass from Kai Forbath to Moses about 30 yards away from the goal line. There were regular NFL officials working and the one in the end zone called it an interception. The play happened right in front of me and it looked to me like Moses wrestled the ball away before they hit the ground. Replay may have overturned the call on the field.

—They finished off practice with a goal to go drill. Starting at the 10 the Redskins’ first-team offense couldn’t get into the end zone in three snaps. A third-down draw play by Thompson came up short. The Texans ones got into the end zone against the Redskins’ defensive starters on a pass to the corner of the end zone from Brian Hoyer to DeAndre Hopkins.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against 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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