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Redskins-Vikings: Five keys and a prediction

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Redskins-Vikings: Five keys and a prediction

Here are five keys to the Washington Redskins-Minnesota Vikings game plus a prediction.

1. The Redskins are on the road playing against a 1-7 team in a building that can get very loud if the home team is doing well but can get very quiet if the Vikings are down. It would seem to be important for the Redskins to get on top early in this one and get the crowd out of the game. Kyle Shanahan agrees. “I haven’t played there in a few years, but the last time I was there I barely could hear myself think,” he said. “It can get real loud and those people can get going. And the crowd will be a factor. It’s always going to be a factor on third downs and crucial situations, and the better you can get off to a start, the quieter they get. It’s something we’d obviously like to do.”

2. On the defensive side, one thing the Redskins would obviously like to do is to get after Christian Ponder. He’s been sacked 15 times in his five starts and that was with a healthy offensive line. Injuries will force to Vikings to sit right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) and probably left guard Charlie Johnson (elbow). That will break up an O-line combo that has started every game since the start of the 2012 season. If they can take advantage of the backups, look for a multi sack game from Ryan Kerrigan and possibly Barry Cofield.

3. The Redskins could jump out to a fast start and get pressure on Ponder and then have Cordarrelle Patterson undo all of the good they’ve done. He’s averaged 36.7 yards on 22 kickoff returns; that’s a big chunk of field position. And you can’t stop him by kicking deep in the end zone. One of his TD’s was a 109-yard runback so it’s obvious that he’ll run it out from anywhere. Kai Forbath either needs to boom it into the first row of the stands or pooch it with hang time down to the 10. If I’m the Redskins I’ll take my chances with Ponder and even Adrian Peterson with decent field position over a quick six from Patterson.

4. Yes, we all know that the Redskins are 10-1 when Alfred Morris gets 20 or more carries in the game. But it’s not all that simple. If it was, then Kyle Shanahan would simply call for Robert Griffin III to hand off to Morris on the first 20 snaps of the game and call it a day. For Morris to get to 20 carries, the passing game has to be working so the defense doesn’t stack to box to stop him. It also helps if Griffin can get his wheels moving to give the defense something else to guard against. In any case, the numbers don’t lie. In 2012 Morris had 20 or more carries three times in the Redskins’ first nine games. The team’s record was 3-6 (2-1 in Morris’ 20+ carry games). In the final seven games he carried at least 20 times in every game. The Redskins, of course, went 7-0.

5. No matter what the pass rush, special teams, and Morris do, it’s going to be hard for the Redskins to win unless Griffin can, for the first time this year, put up a second solid game in a row. Since the bye he has twice completed 50 percent or less of his passes and has posted the two worst single-game passer ratings of his career. Not surprisingly, the Redskins lost those two games. He has twice has a completion percentage of 62 or better and passer ratings of over 85. The Redskins are 2-0 in those games. They are not good enough to overcome a bad game by their quarterback.

It says here that the Redskins rack up five sacks of Ponder, Morris gets his 20 carries and Griffin plays well enough for the Redskins to pull out the win:

Redskins 24, Vikings 14

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Redskins Playbook: Beyond Jordan Reed, questions mount as training camp opens

Redskins Playbook: Beyond Jordan Reed, questions mount as training camp opens

RICHMOND - Everything seemed cool at the Bon Secours training facility when Jay Gruden left the podium on Wednesday, but that quickly changed when the Redskins released their  Physically Unable to Perform list a few hours later. Jordan Reed landing on the PUP list was an unexpected bomber, a big deal even if the star tight end returns to the field quickly.

On Thursday, the Redskins will take to the field for their first day of training camp. There will be plenty of questions:

  1. When and why? Reed on the PUP list for the first day of camp does not mean Redskins fans should panic, but it also doesn't mean there isn't reason for alarm. Reed has a distinct injury history and it seems the team is being smart trying to handle an injury rather than let it linger. The Washington offense is at its best with Reed on the field. Jay Gruden will be asked about Reed a lot in his Thursday press conference; perhaps their will be some clarity.
  2. D-Line questions - Rookie Jonathan Allen should immediately help the 'Skins up front defensively, but beyond that, there are no sure things in the trenches. The Redskins added Stacy McGee from the Raiders and Terrell McClain from the Cowboys in free agency, and both are expected to have a significant role right away. Those guys have had productive flashes in their past, but injuries have been an issue. The Redskins need them to be good, and healthy, right away.
  3. Time to shine - Josh Doctson hardly had a rookie season as he dealt with Achilles injuries. He played just two games in 2016. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon gone, the Redskins need last year's first-round draft pick to produce in 2017. A strong training camp, develping chemistry with Kirk Cousins, could help calm fears about the revamped 'Skins offense. 

Stay with CSN all day for updates from the Redskins first training camp practice of the 2017 season. Football is finally here.

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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Reed on PUP is not a reason to panic, at least not yet

Reed on PUP is not a reason to panic, at least not yet

RICHMOND—Redskins fans got into a panic when the news that Jordan Reed will start the season on the PUP list with a sprained big toe. But the injury is no cause for great concern. At least not for now.

It’s not that Reed isn’t an important cog in the offense. Of course he is. He was No. 2 in our ranking of the Redskins who will have the most impact in 2017. But there is every indication that the move is precautionary. History indicates that toe injuries tend to linger. Similar to hamstring injuries, the best path often is to rest and rehab until the pain is gone and then rest and rehab a little while longer. That minimizes the chances of the injury coming back.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

The irony here is that Reed did not go to OTAs in order to work on conditioning in Miami. Most areas of his body probably are bullet proof. But there is not a lot you can do to prevent a toe injury; it’s just not one of those areas of the body you can fortify with conditioning.

We don’t yet have a timetable for Reed’s return. They will not be in any hurry. Reed knows the offense and he has good timing and rapport with Kirk Cousins. After missing OTAs he came in a dominated the two-day minicamp. The Redskins could choose to have him work on rehab and conditioning until the third preseason game one month from today. They can let him get a little tune up against the Bengals and then put him back in bubble wrap until they open the season against the Eagles on September 10.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

That sounds like a good plan but there is always the possibility of a relapse. These injuries are tricky. And while it’s too soon to panic, some great concern would be warranted if Reed still is on PUP in a month.

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.