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Taylor took his case to the people

Taylor took his case to the people

A lot of media sites are posting stories about Sean Taylor that were written at various points during his tragically brief NFL career. The focus is on his arrests, skipping the rookie symposium and other such moments. I have one here that I wrote on the first day of training camp the August following his arrest in Miami in 2005.

There was a glitch in getting my press credential on that day, so I ended up watching with all of the other fans there. As it turned out, it was a fortunate thing. If I'd been inside the fence, I would have gone up to the area where players are interviewed and I never would have seen Taylor taking his image rehabilitation effort straight to the fans.


Taylor Works on Image Rehab 

By Rich Tandler

Posted Aug 2, 2005

As training camp starts, there are a few Redskins who are in the process of rehabbing various body parts—sprained ankles, injured knees, and so on. There is one in camp, however, who is on a mission to rehab a badly bruised reputation.

That player would, of course, be Sean Taylor. After practice in the morning, he went to patch up his reputation with the media. After the afternoon session, he worked on repairing his reputation with the fans. And during the two practice sessions, he did what he does best; he played football. His abilities in that area will certainly be the best medicine in fixing his image.

The session with the fans was extraordinary and hasn't been covered much elsewhere. His face beaded with sweat, Taylor worked his way down the fence at Redskins Park, shaking hands, signing jerseys, hats, footballs, yearbooks, scraps of paper, anything that his Sharpie would write on. He took care of kids and adults, accommodating virtually everyone who wanted his autograph. Taylor even posed for a few pictures with fans.

It seemed to be one of those nice, spontaneous moments but it became evident that it wasn't. Soon after Taylor came over to the fence, a couple of men with large, stuffed duffel bags worked their way into the middle of the crowd. Inside the bags were good quality black backpacks, just in time for back to school, bearing an embroidered "ST 21" logo. They were passed out to kids in the crowd.

Planned or not, Taylor's actions certainly boosted his standing with the several hundred who were there. Most of the members of the media, however, were not there as they were off pursuing other stories. A TV reporter tried to get a comment out of Taylor, but was unsuccessful.

As far as his session with the media, it was refreshing to see that he didn't come out and read a canned statement like some others who have legal problems such as ones stemming from shoving cameramen. While Taylor was far from candid—he wouldn't even say what his weight was—he did take questions from the press, also a departure from the standard playbook.

On field, Taylor was, well, Taylor. Even after a season of seeing the linebacker-sized Taylor line up in the defensive backfield, it still causes one to do a double take. He was hustling out there, once going full out in an obviously-futile effort to catch David Patten after the receiver caught a deep pass. In the 11-on-11 drills he was blitzing frequently, chasing down Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell. Late in the afternoon session he snared an interception off of a tipped ball, drawing props from his defensive teammates and a cheer from the crowd.

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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.

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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 10, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.


Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 14; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 22

Injuries of note:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Around Redskins Park

The Redskins have four games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. Four will almost certainly get them a ticket to keep playing; two wins or fewer will have them needing a whole lot of help to make the postseason

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining four opponents and revisit the confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them. (I first did this exercise a few weeks ago).

@Eagles, 5-7, weighted DVOA via Football Outsiders, 15.3% (ranked 5th)
The Eagles looked like playoff contenders for about half of the season but they have taken a tumble back to earth, losing five of their last six. Right now the Redskins are the better team, although their long injury list is an area for concern. The Eagles appear to be in some degree of disarray after their coach accused some unnamed players of giving less than full effort. Confidence that the Redskins will win: High

Panthers, 4-8, DVOA -7.5% (25th)
They won’t be able to defend their NFC championship much longer. By the time this game comes around they could be either eliminated or on the verge of being mathematically out of the playoffs. Their problems are numerous including big issues at cornerback (too bad they didn’t have a guy who could have helped franchise tagged) and an offensive line that has been injury-wracked all year. Still, Cam Newton is a scary quarterback and he still has tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr. If the Redskins get into a shootout they could be in trouble. Confidence: Moderately high

@Bears, 3-9, DVOA -3.0%, (24th)
Matt Barkley is the Bears’ third starting QB this season and in most statistical categories he’s the worst of the three. The Bears have been hit by injuries as hard as any NFL team with multiple starters on injured reserve. They probably would have struggled even with those players healthy; without them they are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. The one thing to beware of is the late December weather in Chicago, which could randomize the outcome to an extent. Confidence: Very high

Giants, 8-4, DVOA 5.0%, (12th)
The new players on the Giants’ defense were just starting to gel when end Jason Pierre-Paul’s season ended after sports hernia surgery. Their defense, with the No. 7 DVOA (-9.6%), won’t collapse but it won’t be as strong. Eli Manning’s stats are down a tick from last year but as long as he has Odell Beckham to throw to the Giants won’t be totally stymied on offense. This one is hard to get a good feel for this far out, not knowing what might be at stake for either team. Confidence: Moderate

For comparison purposes, the 6-5-1 Redskins have a DVOA of 9.8% (10th)

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