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Rookie running back Jones is making some noise in Redskins camp

matt-jones-camp.png

Rookie running back Jones is making some noise in Redskins camp

RICHMOND—Coaches don’t expect rookies to be perfect. But they do expect them to listen to what they say. It looks like Matt Jones is listening to his coaches.

During OTAs, when the players were not wearing any pads, Jones was being too physical, lowering his shoulder to finish off runs. Gruden said that they asked him to ease off, concerned that the 6-2, 231-lb. back would injure some defenders. Jones eased off and there were no injury issues during the offseason program.

When they arrived in Richmond for practice in pads, Gruden became concerned that Jones was maintaining his habits and being soft at the end of his runs.

“Randy [Jordan] and Scot [McCloughan] and myself, he's been challenged a little bit to finish some runs,” Gruden said on Friday. “A lot of the times in these practices you're not sure how to finish runs, but we want him to finish violently. That's what type of guy he is and he did that today, so I was excited to see Matt.”

What did Jones do that was so exciting on Friday? During the joint practice against the Texans, he rolled around the left end and headed up the sideline. Cornerback Kevin Johnson, Houston’s first-round draft pick, tried to stop him. Jones is three inches taller and about 45 pounds. The result was predictable and it was captured here:

Jones’ run drew hoots and hollers from the Redskins along the sideline, from both offensive and defensive players.

Mowing over Johnson wasn’t the only good play Jones made on Friday.

“He had a couple of really good cuts in the hole, unblocked,” said Gruden. “We had a poor assignment on a defensive end. We didn't block him and he made him miss in the hole. He made a great positive run in one of the run periods. He had a much better day today than he did yesterday.”

Jones’ style hasn’t drawn universal acclaim. Early in camp it seemed like the defenders were delivering some extra licks on Jones, perhaps in part to welcome the rookie to the NFL and in part to deliver some payback for the no-pads blows that Jones delivered in the spring. They run that de-cleated Johnson may have precipitated the brawl that took place at yesterday’s practice with the Texans.

If Jones keeps up the physical style during preseason games and when Week 1 comes around it will be difficult to keep him off of the field.

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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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