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Should Redskins' Jackson play vs. Ravens?

Should Redskins' Jackson play vs. Ravens?

DeSean Jackson is unlikely to play in Baltimore when the Redskins take on the Ravens in the “dress rehearsal” third preseason game, according to Jay Gruden. The wide receiver suffered a shoulder sprain on August 6 during the joint practices with the Texans.

At the time it was announced that the injury was only going to keep Jackson out for one or two weeks. The longer time frame would have put him out for the Redskins’ first preseason game on August 13 and possibly the second one on August 20. But the Ravens game on August 29, just over three full weeks after the injury, certainly appeared to be a realistic possibility for Jackson to get some snaps with the offense.

Gruden said yesterday that keeping Jackson out is a matter of finding a comfort level in dealing with his injury.

“He’s got full range of motion it looks like out there doing individual drills,” said Gruden. “It’s another thing if we just don’t want to get it hit again on game day. I think doing the non-contact stuff he looks pretty good. But with shoulder pads on, we’re not going to do that until we feel like he’s 100 percent. He’s not quite there yet.”

Since top-line players don’t play in the fourth preseason game it appears that Jackson will make his game debut on September 13, the regular season opener against the Dolphins. That will be over five weeks since the original injury. But Jackson said that he’ll be ready.

“Won’t have to worry about me at all,” Jackson said on Tuesday. “I’ll be the same person I’ve always been: Making plays and being the guy that brings the energy to this team.”

He caught some passes and participated in individual drills but he wasn’t in pads so it is unlikely that he participated in full team drills. (Teams do not have to disclose such information until the week before the regular season starts.)

It should be noted that DeAngelo Hall, who suffered a twice-torn Achilles last fall and has dealt groin and, most recently, toe injuries since the start of training camp, will be playing. Nobody would have batted an eye if Hall wanted to tap out of this one. Although he will be a bit rusty after missing the last 13 games of last year and the second preseason game this year, he is likely to start at corner when the Dolphins come to town.

Some would like to see Hall’s attitude rub off on Jackson. Although it is always dangerous for anyone but a doctor with full access to all of the to make a medical judgment it seems that he could play if he thought it was important. And with the starting offense in need of a boost after failing to get into the end zone in either of the preseason games it would be good to have their top weapon participating against the tough Ravens defense.

But it is unlikely to matter much once the regular season starts. The season will not succeed or fail based on scoring a preseason touchdown. As Jackson said, he will be ready to play. He and Robert Griffin III have been getting in some work and will continue to do so between now and September 13. Getting another 15 to 20 snaps in the mix might help some but it’s not a make or break situation. And the risk of him suffering a setback, not matter how slight, isn't worth it.

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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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