When you're coming off a 3-13 season, any stretch on the schedule is pivotal. The Redskins do have a chance for a 2-0 start with games against Houston and Jacksonville to open the season. And then it gets interesting with four tough games: at Philadelphia, New York Giants, Seattle, at Arizona. That's two divisional games followed by two tough defenses, which makes the three games after that as pivotal a stretch as any. After that four-game stretch, the Washington Redskins host Tennessee before road games at Dallas and Minnesota. But those are three winnable games. If the Redskins struggle before this point, it's a chance for them to reach the bye with momentum for a second-half push.

Complete Redskins season preview.

Lache Seastrunk: 'Speed kills'

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
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ASHBURN, Va. – The Washington Redskins drafted him for a reason, the same one that could earn him a roster spot. Lache Seastrunk still needs to prove he can catch passes consistently. He still needs to prove he can pass-protect.

What he doesn’t have to show is that he can run fast. It could be the reason Seastrunk sticks around despite not yet having done a whole lot this preseason entering Thursday’s finale at Tampa Bay.

“Speed kills,” said the rookie sixth-round pick. “There’s so many different ways you can cut an apple, I guess. They can put you out wide, burn a corner. They can move you around a lot and make you a dual threat.”

[+] EnlargeLache Seastrunk
AP Photo/Alex BrandonLache Seastrunk's speed could be factor that causes him to stick with the Redskins.
Seastrunk has carried the ball 19 times for 98 yards this summer, the third-most rushing attempts behind Alfred Morris and Silas Redd. But Seastrunk had 12 carries in the first preseason game and none in the third. Seastrunk hasn’t been a factor in the passing game, with no targets his way -- though few of the Redskins’ backs have, save for veterans Roy Helu and Evan Royster.

Though Royster has been more productive this summer, the Redskins want to add speed in the backfield. Second-year running back Chris Thompson likely would have been the choice if not for a sprained ankle that again raises questions about his durability.

Undrafted free agent Silas Redd has run hard, but lacks Seastrunk or Thompson’s sizzle. And, like the others, Redd hasn’t been tested much in pass protection.

The coaches knew Seastrunk would take time to develop in the passing game. They do understand he could be used in other ways from scrimmage until reaching that point because of his speed.

Seastrunk said he knows he’s shown the team his speed, quickness and agility. He still knows he must show more.

“I haven’t shown I can catch,” he said. “I just need more opportunities to catch the ball. I feel I catch pretty well. And pass blocking. But it takes time. I’m building my house right now, starting with the foundation and making sure my foundation is sturdy.”

In practices, Seastrunk struggled in pass protection, specifically in the one-on-ones with the linebackers. It’s easier for the linebacker to win in these battles, though Seastrunk at times was knocked to the ground.

“The hardest part would probably have to be when they bull rush,” Seastrunk said of protection in general. “You have to know how to react and throw your weight forward. It’s not easy at all.”

He’ll have one more chance to prove what he can do Thursday. But Thompson also will get plenty of action.

“The only thing I can ask for is an opportunity, and I have an opportunity,” Seastrunk said. “The only thing I can do is just believe.”

DeSean Jackson jumps in rankings

August, 27, 2014
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DeSean Jackson took a big leap in the rankings. The Washington Redskins hope he's able to maintain that spot for another year -- it would mean he's made the impact they desired.

Jackson ranks as the 27th best offensive player, according to ESPN.com's player rankings -- the highest Redskin on either side of the ball. It's a rather big leap for Jackson, who was 93rd on the list last summer. It also shows how much impact one good season makes on the rankings -- and how they measure success from the previous year as much as predict it for the upcoming one.

Jackson
The question is, can Jackson return to that spot, or near it, in 2015? The Redskins clearly want to take some shots down the field, but that will require he and quarterback Robert Griffin III getting in synch. Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,323 yards last season. Both figures could be tough to match given the other weapons, from tight end Jordan Reed (if he stays healthy, that is) to receivers Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts -- not to mention running back Alfred Morris.

Here was the key information courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information on the rankings: "Last season, Jackson had 25 receptions of passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. Only A.J. Green had more touchdown catches on such throws (8) than Jackson (7)." If the Redskins want that statistic to be repeated, Griffin will need help from his protection. Last year, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was able to have more than 3.0 seconds, and a clean pocket, enough times to hit those plays. They can be slow-developing plays, so good protection is a must.

Here's a two-part series I wrote on what to expect from Jackson, based on watching every catch from last season -- and then some.

Meanwhile, linebacker Brian Orakpo fell two spots to 38. Despite the debate over exactly how good he is, Orakpo became the first Redskin in 20 years to record at least eight sacks for four straight seasons. To get a big payday, however, he'll need to probably record his first of at least 12 or more. The Redskins' pass-rushers should benefit from the tutoring by outside linebackers coach Brian Baker. Orakpo has said there's not much new for him to learn, but the Redskins have been pleased with how he's taken to Baker. Add in interior rusher Jason Hatcher and a defensive coordinator anxious to be more aggressive and Orakpo could hit that number.

Other Redskins on the defensive list: linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (67).

Other Redskins on the offensive list: running back Alfred Morris (83); tackle Trent Williams (67) and receiver Pierre Garcon (57).

Troy Vincent defends suspension

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
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Troy Vincent, the NFL's new executive vice president of football operations and a former defensive back, defended the two-game suspension he gave Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather for a preseason hit on Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.

In an interview with the NFL Network on Wednesday, Vincent said he and his staff did their homework on Meriweather, watching tackles from throughout his career.

"Brandon has been someone that has been in this particular [situation] multiple times," Vincent told the network. "We've just cited the four or five most recent. But in this particular case, Brandon hit a player in that area that we consider a very sensitive area, which is that head and neck area. So we went back from 2009 to current, and this is technique that we want to remove from the game."

The Redskins criticized Vincent and his Monday ruling, which penalized Meriweather for the sixth time in his NFL career.

Meriweather, who is appealing the suspension, and the Redskins contend that he has worked on lowering his target to avoid illegal hits. Vincent said there's been no change in his game.

"I'm going back to 2009 in Brandon's situation -- and just looking at the progression, what we've seen, there has been no altering in his play, his style of play," Vincent said.

Redskins safety Ryan Clark was among those defending Meriweather on Tuesday -- and criticizing Vincent, calling it a rash decision and made not looking at the play but at his teammate's past.


(Read full post)


At one point I thought they might keep 10 linemen, but as camp unfolded it was clear that the Redskins would not warrant that many spots. It would prevent a helpful player at another position. That means, if they keep nine, there are five players fighting for the final four spots. If they keep eight because they want to keep an extra guy elsewhere? Then it gets real interesting.

The starting five are set: left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Shawn Lauvao, center Kory Lichtensteiger, guard Chris Chester and tackle Tyler Polumbus. There is no backup pressing for a starting job.

Here’s how the rest shapes up:

Guard Josh LeRibeus. In his favor: He reported in great shape and has talent that line coach Chris Foerster likes. He lost weight, but he’s still big and can move. Having Foerster still around helps LeRibeus – as does his performance in the Seattle playoff loss after the 2012 season. But you can only live off one relief performance for so long. LeRibeus has played OK in the preseason; nothing special.

Guard Spencer Long. He’s a lock. The question for him is when does he press for a starting job. He struggled against Baltimore so the answer could be: Not for a while. Long works to the linebackers well, but went the wrong way on a couple plays versus the Ravens and needs more work in protection. In other words, he’s a rookie still developing.

Tackle Morgan Moses. Lock. The question for him is can he be the No. 1 swing tackle? Moses has improved since camp opened; more consistent with his base, which has led to better footwork. But he’s barely worked at right tackle. Still, they clearly like his size and that he moves well enough to someday be an effective right tackle.

Tackle Tom Compton. My hunch is that he’ll make it, though he did not distinguish himself when given the chance to play against starters in training camp. He’d get driven back too often. But two weeks ago the Redskins felt he played the best of the second group. Though he got driven back a couple times, he did not give up a sack. If they don’t view Moses as ready to be a No. 1 swing tackle, then it’s hard to release Compton because he can play both sides.

Tackle Maurice Hurt. Once upon a time he was an interesting prospect and it’s not as if he’s been bad in the preseason. It’s not like he’s been great, either, and he’s mostly worked with the third unit. When facing higher competition in camp, he struggled. Hurt played guard in the past, but he worked exclusively at right tackle this summer. If they keep LeRibeus, in addition to Long, they don’t need another guard. And Hurt has not worked at left tackle, either. Backups need to help at two spots.

Center Tevita Stevens. He still has practice-squad eligibility. Tough to see him in the mix.

Guard Kevin Kowalski. Another who has practice-squad eligibility. At 298 pounds, he’s smaller than the players Washington prefers with coach Jay Gruden. Another who remains a long shot.

Redskins wake-up call

August, 27, 2014
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ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins have a walk-through Wednesday closed to the media and then head to Tampa Bay for Thursday’s preseason game against the Buccaneers.

There is nothing to monitor Wednesday, but safety Phillip Thomas' situation bears watching over the next few days. He’s going to get his foot re-examined by Dr. James Anderson in North Carolina. If Thomas’ foot is still bad and he can’t play, with Brandon Meriweather already out for the first two games, the Redskins will be even thinner at safety. So they'll have to look hard at other teams' cuts or they'll have to keep a player they might have otherwise cut.

Also, defensive end Stephen Bowen's health needs to be monitored. It’s hard to imagine him being ready at all for the opener, but the question is how long before he returns? If he’s only going to miss a couple weeks then it likely means they’ll keep seven defensive linemen. If Bowen has to stay on the PUP list, then they would keep six.

video

Brandon Meriweather got the same penalty as Ray Rice. He's not the first or the last to be measured on the Ray Rice suspension scale. Keith Olbermann explains.

Phillip Thomas to visit doctor

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Phillip Thomas will visit Dr. James Anderson in North Carolina to see if he can determine the cause of Thomas' latest soreness.

Anderson performed the original Lisfranc surgery on Thomas last summer. Thomas, who missed two weeks with a hamstring injury, now is sidelined because of soreness in his left foot -- the same one that needed surgery.

“We’re going through all the avenues to make sure he gets checked out the right way,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.

Thomas won’t play in Thursday’s preseason finale at Tampa Bay. He’s become a more important player with Brandon Meriweather suspended for the first two games. The Redskins likely would start Bacarri Rambo with Thomas out -- and might have done so anyway.

The Redskins also used corner E.J. Biggers at safety at times last season and could do so now in certain packages.

Thomas' injury also makes this week's cuts interesting. If he won't be ready for the opener, the Redskins might have to keep an extra safety for a couple weeks. They will have a roster exemption for Meriweather. But it could mean one of the young safeties, Trenton Robinson and Akeem Davis, makes the roster.
video

The "NFL Live" crew breaks down how the Rams have done in drafting players with the picks acquired in the Robert Griffin III trade.

Chris Thompson needs strong finale

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
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ASHBURN, Va. -- He understands what the Washington Redskins want to see. Chris Thompson wants to see it himself. And he knows he must show it Thursday -- or else.

Thompson entered training camp with an excellent chance of winning a roster spot, serving as a speed back in Jay Gruden’s offense. He could catch the ball and he was shifty in the open field and he could run out of their spread -- a good change-up to starter Alfred Morris.

But injuries have shadowed his career, dating to college and Thompson must prove his durability. That's why he must have a good game Thursday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final preseason game.

“One of the top traits a running back has to have -- my dad told me a long time ago -- is durability,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden, son of a scout, said. “He’s got to prove he can stay healthy. He might have to play through some pain for us to count on him on a Sunday afternoon. This is a big game for Chris.”

Thompson sprained his ankle in the first preseason game and was not at full speed until Monday. Before the injury he was working behind Morris and Roy Helu. Now, he must show that he’s more worthy than Evan Royster, Silas Redd and Lache Seastrunk.

But Thompson also knows his injury history: a back injury in 2011; torn ACL in 2012; torn labrum in his shoulder in 2013.

“I just have to show them I can make it through some games and I will show them,” he said. “I’ve been hurt a lot. I can deal with pain. I’ll make sure I finish this game out.”

Thompson also said he must show he can handle third-down situations, like picking up blitzes and running routes out of the backfield.

“I haven’t showed them enough,” Thompson said. “I have to go out and make some plays.”

If Thompson can’t finish Thursday’s game, then it’s difficult to imagine him winning a roster spot. However, one game staying healthy does not mean he’ll last all 16 games, either. But it’s not as if Thompson would get more than a handful of carries in a game anyway. He does have the shiftiness and quickness the coaches want.

Regardless, running back will be a tough decision when it comes to the final 53-man roster.

“I’m not worried at all,” Thompson said. “I’ve just got to get my mind right. I felt good before, but I wasn’t able to show it when game time came around. Practice is good, but it’s not good enough.”
Most significant move: The Redskins released veteran backup linebacker Rob Jackson, a move that in truth was only mildly surprising. Jackson was not playing on special teams and did not have the speed the Redskins are trying to find defensively. Jackson will forever be remembered by Redskins fans for his game-ending interception off Dallas’ Tony Romo to clinch the NFC East title in 2012. But his future was in doubt when he entered camp, in part because the Redskins drafted Trent Murphy in the second round. And with young linebackers such as Gabe Miller and Everette Brown having better camps, Jackson was let go.

Young backups: The Redskins will go with a youthful group of offensive line backups after releasing veteran guard/center Mike McGlynn. Again, not a big surprise given his training camp performance. But he had the most experience of the backups. However, if they keep less than 10 linemen -- as they should -- then McGlynn was an easy player to release. They can use guard Chris Chester at center in an emergency if something happens to starter Kory Lichtensteiger. But it also means that the other potential backups include two rookies in Morgan Moses and Spencer Long and two others who have not started a game in guard Josh LeRibeus, who has appeared in five games, and tackle Tom Compton, who has appeared in 15. Both their work has primarily come on special teams. Another potential player is tackle Maurice Hurt, who has appeared in 21 games with nine starts (eight in 2011).

What’s next: The Redskins have a tough decision to make at running back when getting to the final 53. They still have all their running backs and will have to cut perhaps two or three players whom they like. But some of them will be eligible for the practice squad, including Chris Thompson, Lache Seastrunk and Silas Redd. Thompson had a big edge early in camp, but the inability to stay healthy has left him in jeopardy. One other thing to watch: what happens with defensive end Stephen Bowen. If the Redskins feel he’ll be ready early in the season, they might keep seven defensive linemen. If not, he could remain on the PUP list.

Redskins' cuts: LB Rob Jackson, OC/G Mike McGlynn, LB Adrian Robinson, TE Matt Veldman, WR Rashad Ross, CB Bryan Shepherd, LB Jeremy Kimbrough, DE Jeremy Towns, G Adam Gettis, FB Stephen Campbell, WR Cody Hoffman, WR Rashad Lawrence, S Ross Madison and DE Jake McDonough. TE Mike Caussin was placed on injured reserve.
ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden threatened to do something that hasn't been done in five years: play some of his starters in the final preseason game. But he said they finished the week with a good practice, eliminating the need for them to play Thursday.

Gruden had debated playing some of his offensive starters in the finale, wanting to finish on a stronger note than what they showed against Baltimore on Saturday. Gruden seemed agitated in the portion of practice open to the media, chastising quarterbacks for their throws, including Robert Griffin III.

Afterward, Gruden said there was a "10 percent chance" some of the offensive starters would play. He dropped it to zero percent Tuesday.

"It's my intent now, after a couple good days of practice, to let the other guys play," Gruden said, "let the backups play. So we can solidify those roles. We have our starters. In general, we feel pretty good about who they are and now we need to find the key backups and who they are and make sure they get ample reps to show what they can do."

Brandon Meriweather to appeal ban

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather will appeal his two-game suspension for another illegal hit, amid strong support from teammates and coaches -- and fellow safety Ryan Clark calling out Troy Vincent.

The NFL suspended Meriweather on Monday for two games based on what it deemed a helmet-to-helmet hit against Baltimore Ravens receiver Torrey Smith on Saturday. It's the second time the NFL suspended Meriweather and the sixth time it has taken action against one of his hits in his eight-year career.

Last season, the league suspended him for two games, but after an appeal it was reduced to one game.

Meriweather declined comment Tuesday, but both coach Jay Gruden and Clark said he would appeal.

"It was an unfortunate incident," Gruden said. "He tried to lower his target. It was a legitimate football play, but the NFL didn't see it that way."

Even Smith, who was on the receiving end of the hit, believes Meriweather shouldn't be suspended.


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Redskins cut OL Mike McGlynn

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
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ASHBURN, Va. -- The Redskins released veteran offensive lineman Mike McGlynn, along with two other players, as they trimmed the roster to 75 by Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline. Washington also released receiver Rashad Ross and tight end Matt Veldman.

McGlynn
  McGlynn, a free agent signing from Indianapolis, was a mild surprise because he was a veteran with starting experience, something the Redskins lack among their backup offensive linemen. However, McGlynn did not look good in training camp, struggling in the one-on-one pass-rush drills and did not distinguish himself in games. Though he had played guard in the NFL as well, one scout said he was not good at that position and felt center was his best spot. If that's the case, struggling at center did not help his cause.

It's uncertain how many linemen the Redskins will keep in the final cuts. With McGlynn gone, it's likely they'd keep no more than nine. The starters are set, and have been for a while, so the top backups appear to be rookie tackle Morgan Moses, rookie guard Spencer Long, tackle Tom Compton and guard Josh LeRibeus. Maurice Hurt also figures here because nobody else can play both guard and tackle. But Hurt has worked exclusively at right tackle this summer. The other four linemen all have worked at multiple spots.

The only surprise with Ross is that he didn't last until the final cuts given his returns in the preseason games; he averaged 32 yards on four returns. But he remained a longshot to win a roster spot regardless. The Redskins signed Veldman recently.


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