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Tim Hightower's long road to recovery

Tim Hightower's long road to recovery

When Tim Hightower poked his helmet into the Redskins huddle early in Saturdays 30-17 preseason victory over the Colts, he was greeted by a curious look from tackle Trent Williams.
He looked at me surprised, like, What are you doing in here? Hightower later said. Just that alone, that was priceless.
Indeed, it had been a while since Hightower had joined Washingtons huddle. Eleven regular season games and two exhibition contests, to be exact.
Hightower tore the ACL in his left knee in Week 6 last season and spent the 10 months rehabbing and dreaming about the moment his number would get called in an NFL game again.
That moment arrived late in the second quarter, when the 26-year-old burst through the line, juked a Colts defender and raced 18 yards down to the Indianapolis five-yard line.
I couldnt have scripted anything like that, he said. I was thankful for it.
The run was his first carry in a game since suffering the injury last Oct. 23 against the Panthers. Shanahan called for Hightower again on the next play, but he was stopped four yards short of the end zone. He finished with 28 yards on five carries.
Its been a long road, a long journey, Hightower said. I was just so thankful to be back and hear the fans, hear them screaming, hear them chanting.
Hightower conceded that his surgically repaired knee will likely feel sore Sunday morning. But he also said hes no longer worried about significant setbacks.
Its all right, he said. It will probably be a little sore later on. But it feels a lot better when you win.
Coach Mike Shanahan said his reservations about playing Hightower were eased during practice last week.
I was a little nervous, Shanahan said. I saw him get better during the week and I felt there was a chance he could play but I also thought it might be a long shot. Then I saw him a couple of days ago and he looked much better so Im glad he was able to get some playing time in there.
The coach added: I feel very good about his situation, getting about 13 or 14 reps in there and feeling good after the game.Hightowers return comes at a critical time in the competition for the Redskins starting job at tailback. Hightower is listed as first on the teams depth chart, but rookie Alfred Morris backed up an impressive training camp with a 107-yard performance against the Colts. And although Evan Royster sat out with a knee injury thats believed to be minor, the second-year running back is also in the mix.
Hightower is the teams most experienced and versatile option, but hes also been around long enough to know nothing is guaranteed. Asked if he had just proved hes all the way back, Hightower said: Yes and no. Yes, from the standpoint that Im out there, I have an opportunity, I have a shot. But from there, I know this is just the beginning, the foundation. I have a lot of work left to do, as this team does. But, hey, Im back in the game, back in the fight.
During his lengthy recovery and rehab, Hightower said there were mornings he woke up so sore he second-guessed himself. But those doubts began to subside in recent weeks and, after Saturday, might disappear altogether.
You always have doubts, he said. Youre going to have days when you wake up and you dont feel to good and you second guess yourself. But, ultimately, I believed. I had no choice. This is what I want to do.

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Redskins practice observations OTAs 05.24.17—Injured players getting back on track

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Redskins practice observations OTAs 05.24.17—Injured players getting back on track

The skies were dry but the fields were wet and that forced the Redskins into the bubble for their second OTA practice.

Here are my observations from the session:

OLB Junior Galette took a light workload but it was surprising that he did anything at all considering that he is 10 months removed from an Achilles tendon tear. He was sprinting during stretching and he took part in some team drills. It’s early but if he is healthy in September the Redskins’ pass rush could be a force.

Not present were TE Jordan Reed, OT Trent Williams, and RB Matt Jones. Jay Gruden said that Reed and Williams are working out elsewhere and he was vague about the absence of Jones, although he said that it was not unexpected.

Also in good health was TE Niles Paul. He suffered a shoulder injury in Week 8 last year and finished the season on injured reserve. The veteran appeared to be a full go in both individual and team drills.

RB Rob Kelley looks like he lost a few pounds in an effort to become more durable and maybe a little quicker. He also is sporting a new jersey number.

Rob Kelley now wearing No. 20. #Redskins

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P Tress Way is in midseason form. He lofted a punt that landed in one of the light fixtures some 100 feet above the floor of the practice bubble and stayed in it. The third-year player said that he couldn’t do that again if he tried 100 times.

RB Mack Brown faces some serious competition for his job but he is not going to give it up easily. He looked good on some runs off tackle, showing some good speed and quickness.

They rotated a lot of defensive linemen through during team drills. Undrafted rookie Ondre Pipkins got a lot of run at nose tackle and Anthony Lanier played quite a few snaps at end as did Ziggy Hood. Top draft pick Jonathan Allen’s reps were somewhat limited as were those of Phil Taylor. They likely plan to rotate  their linemen a lot throughout OTAs, minicamp, and training camp to try to find a good combination.

QB Kirk Cousins mostly kept to shorter passes but in seven on seven drills he did launch one deep down the middle that WR Maurice Harris went up and grabbed for the nicest offensive play of the day.

Rookie TE Jeremy Sprinkle dropped a pass on a short crossing pattern. As a fifth-round pick he can afford some mistakes now but he can’t drop too many in August.

QB Nate Sudfeld was shaky in the beginning, throwing a few passes at the shoe tops of his receivers. But he did get better as the practice went on, through some nice, accurate passes while rolling out.

Gruden called for a trick play at the end of on team session. Cousins threw a quick backwards pass to WR Jamison Crowder, who was on the left. RB Chris Thompson snuck out of the backfield and he was open along the right hashmark. But Crowder’s pass was underthrown, allowing ILB Zach Brown to break it up.

Brown, Will Compton, and Mason Foster rotated in and out at inside linebacker. All possible combinations of the three were on the field at various times. It will be interesting to see how the lineup settles in when the season starts.

I think that S D.J. Swearinger is going to be annoying to players and fans from other teams. After Harris caught a pass, he was jogging down the field with the ball after the whistle blew. Swearinger came up and gave the ball a bunch to try to knock it out of his grasp. It was more playful than violent but I can see how he will get under the skin of opponents.

WR Josh Doctson appears to be healthy. He turned on the jets to catch a QB Colt McCoy pass down the right sideline. Of course, it’s May and the goal is for him to be healthy in September but it looks like it’s so far, so good.

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Kirk Cousins sounded optimistic about contract talks with Redskins

Kirk Cousins sounded optimistic about contract talks with Redskins

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins repeatedly sounded optimistic about his ongoing contract negotations with the organization, though he acknowledged the talks will probably go until the last minute.

"Deadlines do deals," Cousins said.

Speaking Wednesday to the media after an OTA session, Cousins explained that talks with the Redskins have been positive and ongoing. He also admitted that he doesn't expect a deal to get finished before the July 15th franchise tag deadline.

In 2016, conversations between the Redskins and Cousins largely broke down before the tag deadline. That seems to be a different story in 2017, and while it may only be a glimmer of hope, it's an encouraging development for Washington fans that want to keep their passer. 

"It's been very positive," he said. Of July 15th, Cousins said, "it will be a telling date, as it was last summer."

Over the last two seasons as starter, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards, twice breaking the franchise single-season passing record. In 2015, Cousins emerged in the second half of the year to play some terrific football and lead the Redskins to a division title. In 2016, Cousins never quite hit the same highs as 2015, but was much more consistent and piled up passing yards. 

Redskins team president Bruce Allen said earlier this week he remains positive about a long-term deal for Cousins. Allen maintained that talks are ongoing with Cousins' representatives, and similarly to Cousins, expects the bulk of the talks closer to July 15th.

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