Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 22, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.
Today’s schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and Matt Cavanaugh press conferences, open locker room after practice, approx. 1:30
—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 10
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 31
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 37
What they’re saying about the Redskins
The Washington football team — your most persistent headache, the squad whose light hadn’t even flickered during the preseason and the first game — awoke Sunday with a kind of performance that can bring a team together, that can be called upon in difficult times throughout the long year.
This is a good, one paragraph summary of what we saw on Sunday in Los Angeles. It wasn’t any reason to throw a party or anything but it was a sign of life. They avoided getting crushed by fans and the media for being 0-2. At 1-1 they have life, especially with the rest of the teams in the NFC East experiencing some struggles as well.
Washington can be a force when its rushing attack gets going. Over the past three seasons, the Redskins are 15-2-1 when rushing for at least 90 yards as a team (3-13 when they don't). The 229 rushing yards Sunday against the Rams were Washington's second most in that span.
They jumped from No. 24 to No 17 in these rankings, more of a reflection of the overreaction to the loss to the Eagles than any actual improvement in the team. I think the Redskins belong somewhere in the middle of the pack right now and that is where most have them now.
They ran all over the Rams, which is a good sign for the offense. Now they have to amp up the passing game.
This is a good point on ramping up the passing game. Even a moderately efficient performance throwing the ball would have meant a dominant win for the Redskins. They won’t be able to run for 229 yards every week and Kirk Cousins has to get it going.
I suppose most will explain this in one of two narratives:
1. Cravens was never committed to football, and Washington needed to move on rather than letting him continue to be a distraction.
2. The bumbling Washington brain trust committed another blunder, this time blindsiding a player who was trying to right his life off the field.
The reality is probably somewhere between those two sentiments. Coaches need to know who is on their roster going forward, and the 22-year-old can use the time to chart a clear path forward. Remember, a Washington legend once took a year off because his heart wasn't in the sport.
The Cravens story remains a puzzle with many missing pieces. The key may be in the 15-minute conversation he had with Doug Williams on the sideline before the Texas-USC game the night before the Redskins played the Rams. Perhaps the talk convinced Williams that Cravens is not in the proper frame of mind to return to the team and that the additional two weeks they could have taken before putting him on the reserve/left team list would not make any difference. It seems like too much of a coincidence that two days after Cravens talks face to face with a member of the Redskins brass for the first time since he left the team a week before the season opener.
That’s just speculation but that’s all we have at the moment. By the way, the legend who once took a year off was John Riggins, although his 1980 absence was more of a contract holdout than it was his heart not being in the sports, although there was an element of the latter involved.
In case you missed it
ATLANTA -- R.A. Dickey frustrated Washington with his knuckleball for eight innings, Ozzie Albies had three hits and the Atlanta Braves beat the Nationals 3-2 on Thursday night.
After Ryan Zimmerman's leadoff homer in the second inning, the 42-year-old Dickey gave up only one hit -- a two-out single by Trea Turner in the third -- over the next five innings. Turner was picked off first base.
Dickey (10-10) gave up two runs, four hits and no walks. He made a strong case that the Braves should pick up his $8 million club option for 2018.
Zimmerman lined his homer into the left-field seats, tying the game at 1. He set a career high with his 34th homer, his fourth off Dickey this season.
Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances. It was a strong return to form after Vizcaino walked all three batters he faced in a blown save Wednesday night.
The Braves scored two runs in the fourth off Tanner Roark (13-10). Albies singled, moved to third on catcher Matt Wieters' wild pickoff attempt and scored the go-ahead run on Freddie Freeman's fly ball to deep left field. Nick Markakis doubled past Zimmerman at first base and scored on Johan Camargo's single up the middle.
The Nationals trimmed the Braves' lead to one in the eighth. Anthony Rendon doubled to left field and scored on Wieters' two-out single.
Ender Inciarte continued his push for 200 hits when he led off the first with a triple to right field. It was his 191st hit, the third-highest total in the majors. Inciarte scored on Albies' single.
The game was delayed several minutes in the middle of the eighth. There was confusion as Nationals manager Dusty Baker attempted to make several defensive changes and had to go over the changes with home plate umpire Nic Lentz, who also took questions from Braves manager Brian Snitker.