April 21, 2019

Washington Redskins: Fight to 53 Outlook after Preseason Finale Loss to Jaguars

The Washington Redskins finished their final preseason showing with a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Many of the projected Week 1 roster spots of have been locked up resulting in many of them sitting out the fourth preseason game to avoid the risk of injury that has troubled the Redskins throughout the past month.

Thursday night was a chance for the back end of the preseason 75-man roster to show why they deserve a chance to make the 53-man squad. The Redskins will have to cut 22 by this Saturday after the team was already trimmed by 15 earlier this week. A 10-man practice squad will also be assembled following final cuts. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins: Preseason Week 3 vs. Ravens What to Watch For

The soap opera drama with the Washington Redskins has returned unfortunately, things are getting bleak early and tomorrow’s showing against the Baltimore Ravens could be the beginning of the end.

After more participating in the blame game by Robert Griffin III towards the coaching staff starting with Jay Gruden regarding whether the starting quarterback suffered a concussion when sustaining several blows last Thursday against the Lions.

With the third preseason game often being the dress rehearsal for week one of the regular season, there are infinite things to watch for. Here we highlight five big idea areas to watch out for:

  • In limited playing time so far, Griffin has underwhelmed though it has not all been his fault. He had a long touchdown dropped by Pierre Garcon and had next to know blind side protection from Willie Smith. None the less it is time for Griffin to put his money where his mouth is because another underwhelming performance could cause the quarterback controversy to really heat up and lead to Gruden possibly questioning his QB1 status. Though it will take a completely dreaded performance for Griffin to be benched prior to the start of the regular season, his starting role is not set in stone as well as it was as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
  • The offensive line HAS to improve. A quarterback cannot be successful when getting hit on 75% of dropbacks as Griffin was last week. The return of the Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams will be a huge plus over the journeyman tackle Willie Smith who could find himself unemployed by final cuts on September 5th. If the young core on the right side of the line of Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses can rebound after a poorer showing last week, Griffin should have enough time. The only way to start truly evaluating Griffin is when all the pieces around him are in place as they would be in the regular season and that starts with the men that protect him.
  • When Junior Galette went down with a torn Achilles injury before even taking a game snap with the Redskins, it was a huge loss that DeAngelo Hall put it as losing the missing piece to the defense. It is hard to argue with the corner when he loose an elite pass rusher that has 22 sacks over the past two seasons. Now it will be up to the likes of developing edge rushers Trent Murphy and rookie Preston Smith to fill the void left by the ex-Saint. It is not the worst possible injury based on the idea that the team has solid depth at the position, but the young outside linebackers are going to be forced to grow up even quicker as they face three first round left tackles prior to All Pro blind side protector in the Eagles’ Jason Peters. Ryan Kerrigan with is locked into the WOLB position might not play for precautionary reasons after having his knee scoped during the offseason.
  • Can the offense continue to improve with Griffin reacquiring dynamic weapons like Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder? Many of claimed that missing DeSean Jackson, who has a “slim” chance of suiting up tomorrow, has caused some of Griffin’s ineffectiveness so ideally Reed and Crowder will help soften the shoulder injury to the elite deep threat. If healthy, Reed and Crowder have shown that they can create mismatches in one on one coverage which can only help Griffin in his options in the pocket to get rid of the ball more quickly. Crowder reportedly suffered a slight twinge in his hamstring and could be held out further for precautionary reasons.
  • Their are still many position battles going on the fill out the Redskins 53 man roster. Cuts to a 15 man roster will take place nest Tuesday, September 1st so their are individuals who will use the second half of the game to sustain their livelihoods. Backup offensive tackle, wide receivers, and linebackers are positions with spots up for grabs. Look for many decisions to be made based on an individual’s contribution or lack thereof on special teams after losing two aces in Niles Paul and Adam Hayward within the span of a week.

Tomorrow’s dress rehearsal will be the first time all year that predictions based on performance on a larger sample size will not be speculative. None the less do not throw any particular starter under the bus after just over a half of work building up to the start of the regular season.

Check back for a full analysis of the Redskins battling the the Baltimore Ravens after a Saturday night matchup with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 PM.

Washington Redskins Get Good Injury News on Fan Appreciation Day #2 at Redskins Park

The Washington Redskins were limping into their second preseason game against the Detroit Lions last Thursday. Things did not get better when Robert Griffin III left the game early with a concussion and later when special team’s captain Adam Hayward suffered a non-contact ACL injury. Less than three days removed from the horror, the Redskins started to get healthier on all fronts starting with QB1 RG3.

Robert Griffin III was in full pads today in practice and although it is believed he could only go through individual drills due to the concussion protocol, head coach Jay Gruden later explained that the quarterback was cleared for “non-contact” activity today.

“He’ll be checked by a neurosurgeon later this week to determine whether he’ll be cleared for the game [at Ravens on Saturday]. But, so far, so good. He didn’t have any headaches or anything of that nature. He did a good job of executing the offense today.”

Griffin looks to be on a somewhat accelerated timetable to return to game action as he took part in throwing drills today which is thought of as the 4th step of the five step concussion protocol. Gruden discussed the how the concussion protocol was taking shape:

“He just went through the necessary steps with the doctors and the concussion tests that is all implemented by our training staff. And so far, he has taken the necessary steps. You know, it’s been two full days and today is Sunday afternoon so he has had some time to recover and go through the necessary steps. He hasn’t been totally cleared yet. Like I said, he’s got to still go to a neurosurgeon. But, we’ll wait and see.”

Griffin will likely speak to the media later this week and will start against the Ravens on Saturday if he is completely cleared by the aforementioned neurologist. Gruden thinks that Griffin will have a good chance to get in the necessary reps on Saturday as he has already started to take the “necessary steps” in clearing the protocol. Although Gruden said the first team offense is “moving forward” there is still a lot of work to be done, which is why these opportunities to get better before things start to count is essential.

Practice Notes and Evaluations:

  • TE Derek Carrier, acquired from San Francisco for a 2016 5th round pick, is wearing #41 not the previously reported #47 previously donned by Chris Cooley (still do not expect anything). Gruden described the Beloit College product as being “very good” and likes that he “competes in the running game” after putting on weight from his wide receiver days.
  • In limited work today, DeSean Jackson fielded some punts today and could probably be used in rare occasions when the team is in a big need of a spark. Jackson is easily the most explosive player on the team.
  • Kirk Cousins went 5/5 for 80 yards during 7-on-7 drills including a 50 yard run and catch to Rashad Ross.
  • Although it surprised many that Griffin was already taking part in non-contact team drills, the former rookie of the year looked fine in individual drills in his footwork to roll out and throwing on the move. Griffin later exploded through a crease during live play for a 30 yard rushing touchdown where he used his track speed to break away from trailing defenders.

Injury Updates:

  • Jamison Crowder (hamstring), Will Compton (groin), Trent Williams (foot), and Baushad Breeland (MCL) with a knee brace all returned to practice in full pads. Breeland took part in team drills as the first unit nickelback. All are making very good progress from their injuries.
  • DeSean Jackson (shoulder), DeAngelo Hall (toe), and Jordan Reed did NOT participate in a full padded practice with the rest of the team. Jackson and Hall were in practice jerseys without pads and took part in individual drills, Jackson hopes to practice fully at some point this week. Gruden believes Jackson and Reed are both close to returning to 100%.
  • In a couple of new injuries, Kai Forbath (sore quad) and Trent Murphy (aggravated hip) were held out of practice though they are just day-to-day and Gruden did not seem too concerned about either injuries.

Important Dates:

  • Face the Baltimore Ravens for the third preseason game (“dress rehearsal”) in 6 days on 8/29 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 13 days by 9/5.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 21 days.

Washington Redskins: Updated Unofficial Depth Chart prior to Preseason Bout with Ravens

The Washington Redskins have made some changes to their unofficial depth chart heading into the “dress rehearsal” preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday. You can see the full depth chart below as the cuts to the 53 man roster have to be finalized by September 5th. In bold we have denoted those who are locks to make the roster, while those names that are italicized are individuals who we expect to round out the 53 man roster.

With 46 locks, we predict that Rashad Ross (WR6), Ty Nsekhe (RT2), Je’Ron Hamm (TE3), Kedric Golston (DE4), Frank Kearse (DE5), Houston Bates (OLB5), Martrell Spaight (MLB4), and Justin Rodgers (CB5*) to be on the 53 man roster starting week 1. Although there are 8 players listed to possible make the team leading to 53 man players, CB Baushad Breeland will not count towards the Week 1 53 man roster while serving his one game suspension. It is possible that Justin Rodgers could be gone come Week 2 when Breeland returns unless he can convince the coaching staff to keep him on the roster at the expense of someone else.

Need to Know Changes from Previous Depth Chart:

  • With the season ending injuries to Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen, the Washington Redskins acquired TE Derek Carrier from the San Francisco 49ers for a 5th round draft pick in 2016. Je’Ron Hamm currently seems to be slightly ahead of Chase Dixon and Devin Mahina in the competition for the third tight end roster spot. Ernst Brun and D.J. Williams who were recently signed seem to be long shots to make the team.
  • After the Redskins lost another special teams standout in Adam Hayward, it was Terrance Plummer and not 5th round draft pick Martrell Spaight given the MLB4 spot on the depth chart. Though it is still expected for Spaight to make the team, fully expect that all borderline competitions to possible be determined by the impact said individuals can make on special teams.
  • Chris Thompson, who is expected to make the team as the third string running back, has now leapfrogged Andre Roberts into the starting kickoff return role. There have been only one chance for the Redskins to return a kickoff during the preseason due to touchbacks, so this position is not set in stone.

Surprising Non-Changes to Depth Chart:

  • After being absolutely destroyed on multiple occasions when starting at left tackle for an injured Trent Williams, inconsistent lineman Willie Smith is still listed as backing up the Silverback. Tom Compton has continued to be listed as the third string right tackle, but his newly found role as a blocking tight end makes us consider him a lock to make the roster.
  • Houston Bates has not made up any ground on Jackson Jeffcoat according to the new depth chart, but it is possible that the flashy pass rusher is making a case for a roster spot with three sacks in the first two preseason games. With the injury to Hayward, a linebacker spot opens up for the taking. Expect Bates to be required to also make a difference on special teams in order to make the team.
  • Similarly to Bates, talented OLB Junior Galette has still been listed as the third string WLB although he could possibly start Week 1 against the Dolphins barring a lack of chemistry with the team in his recent arrival and/or a possible suspension for off the field issues.

Do not take any of these rankings too seriously as much can still change up to and beyond the start of the regular season. District Sports Page will keep you updated on the latest changes in position battles that could come down to the wire.

Position First String Second String Third String Other
WR1 DeSean Jackson Ryan Grant Jamison Crowder Rashad Ross
LT Trent Williams Willie Smith Takoby Cofield
LG Shawn Lauvao Arie Kouandjio Bryce Quigley
C Kory Lichtensteiger Josh LeRibeus Austin Reiter
RG Brandon Scherff Spencer Long Tyler Larsen
RT Morgan Moses Ty Nsekhe Tom Compton
TE Jordan Reed Derek Carrier Je’Ron Hamm Chase Dixon, Devin Mahina
WR2 Pierre Garçon Andre Roberts Evan Spencer Colin Lockett, Tony Jones, Reggie Bell
QB Robert Griffin III Kirk Cousins Colt McCoy
FB Darrel Young Jordan Campbell
RB Alfred Morris Matt Jones Chris Thompson Trey Williams, Mack Brown
LDE Stephen Paea Kedric Golston Corey Crawford
NT Terrance Knighton Chris Baker Jerrell Powe Travian Robertson
RDE Jason Hatcher Ricky Jean Francois Frank Kearse Robert Thomas
SLB Trent Murphy Jackson Jeffcoat Houston Bates Dyshawn Davis
MLB Keenan Robinson Will Compton Martrell Spaight
MLB Perry Riley Jr. Terrance Plummer Alonzo Highsmith
WLB Ryan Kerrigan Preston Smith Junior Galette Sage Harold
CB DeAngelo Hall Bashaud Breeland Justin Rogers Trey Wolfe, Qunton Dunbar
CB Chris Culliver David Amerson Deshazor Everett Tajh Hasson, Bryan McCann, DreQuan Hoseky
SS Duke Ihenacho Jeron Johnson Akeem Davis DaMon Cromartie-Smith
FS Dashon Goldson Trenton Robinson Kyshoen Jarrett
P Tress Way
K Kai Forbath Ty Long
H Tress Way
LS Nick Sundberg
KR Chris Thompson Andre Roberts Jamison Crowder
PR Andre Roberts Jamison Crowder Rashad Ross

Washington Redskins: Analysis of Preseason Home Opener Win over Lions

GRIFFIN CONCUSSED AFTER HIT REPEATEDLY BEHIND WEAK LINE

Another costly preseason victory for the Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III left the game on his fourth series with a concussion and right shoulder stinger, though head coach Jay Gruden said RG3’s shoulder is “okay”. Griffin had no time all night as he was hit on six of eight drop backs, the result of using inconsistent  Willie Smith at left tackle and Brandon Scherff still just being a rookie in this league. You can see all the vicious blows Griffin took last night as well as the play he got hurt on below.

Besides Robert Griffin III, who could be out for upwards of a week and possibly not ready for Week 1 of the regular season, the Redskins also lost another special teams stud. Adam Hayward went down on kickoff coverage with a knee injury that many are reporting is a torn ACL, which would place him on the IR for the second straight year (tibia fracture). Having already lost Niles Paul last week to a dislocated and fractured ankle, the Redskins will put a premium on special teams play to round out their 53 man roster.

The quarterback play was similar to last week against the Browns. There is simply too small of a sample size to evaluate Griffin, who now may be out for the foreseeable future. The small part did he did play looks awful much in part to the fact he was hit on six out of eight drop backs with only one, in which he got hurt, being his fault. For those who will bash Griffin, they will get their chance to see Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy battle it out on the practice field while RG3 is out. Both backup quarterbacks played well last night; however it all must be taken with a grain of salt as they were playing against a backup secondary who were giving up open soft spots left and right.

The running backs were one of the lone bright spot for the Washington Redskins. After only providing 24 yards of support on seven carries for Griffin, also possibly the result of a weaker offensive line, we saw explosive runs behind the backup line. Rookie Matt Jones got things started with a 24 yard rumble up the middle with a good cut to make a defender miss mid way through. Chris Thompson also had a nice run around the right side and similarly to Jones made a defender go for a slip and slide ride with a smooth cut. Finally, the speedster Trey Williams put his track like ability on display with a 38 yard run down the right sideline. Although the Redskins combined for a whopping 179 yards on the ground on 40 carries, 81 of them came from these big plays.

Again the starting defense was shaky coming out of the gates. Yes they were missing the likes of DeAngelo HallBaushad BreelandRyan Kerrigan, and Junior Galette, but fundamentally they were not getting the job done. Throughout the game the Redskins could not sustain tackles and bring the ball carrier to the ground individually. From the starters, Keenan RobinsonDavid Amerson, and Chris Culliver were all guilty of that. The nice part however was the rest of the defense’s swarming to the football to make the additional yardage gain minimal through gang tackling.

The up and down nature of the starting defense continued with the coverage in the passing game. At times Matthew Stafford, without arguably the best receiver in the game Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, was simply dissecting the gaps in the defense (similarly to how Cousins and McCoy would return the favor). The Lions quarterback had four passes, out of his eight, for double digit yard gains. In the end the Redskins defense did a decent job preventing the Lions from entering the red zone. Both drives stalled for the Lions and they settled for a 49 yard Matt Prater field goal over the course of their two drives. Jason Hatcher was a key pass rusher in stalling both drives as he twice hurried Stafford into not converting on third down.

Now lets take a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling as the Redskins continue their evaluation process to cut their roster to 53 players by Saturday, September 5th.

  • UP: Tackle Tom Compton. With all the problems on the offensive line yesterday, Compton who was used multiple times as a blocking tight end (trying to fill the void of Logan Paulsen), did an effective job. The backup lineman has the mobility to sustain blocks down field which allowed Alfred Morris to gain a 10 yard clip on the opening possession. With Brandon Scherff moving to guard, opening an extra roster spot at tackle, Compton is all but a lock for the final roster.
  • DOWN: Tackle Willie Smith. For Gruden to say Smith played “pretty good” is laughable. The tackle was playing in place of Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams who could have gone it it were a regular season game. Smith was beat repeatedly. Three times Lions defenders got clean shots on Griffin around the outside. Smith was bailed out the fourth time from the fact that Scherff got blown up quicker than he did. If Ty Nsekhe shows he is the least bit competent in being a backup tackle, the journey man Willie Smith will continue his journey right out the door.
  • UP: Punter Tress Way. Arguably the Redskins most worthy player of a Pro Bowl of All-Pro selection might just be their dynamite punter. In a special teams that has been horrendous over the years, the Redskins might have found their changer in field position for the next five years. Way led the league in gross punting average at 47.5 yards. Last night Way averaged 51 yards on four punts and helped his coverage team with directional punts that helped limit punt return yardage to a total of 13 yards.
  • DOWN: Guard Brandon Scherff. Yes he is a rookie and yes he was not the only problem on the offensive line, but the 5th overall pick was absolutely bull rushed straight back into Griffin on a drop back. If Scherff is going to worth the value of his draft pick, he MUST at least develop into a above average guard where he supposedly more suited to start his development. Scherff also had a somewhat tough time on running plays as the Redskins got no substantial runs running to the right where he anchors the line with Morgan Moses. Scherff would say postgame that the play of the offensive line is “unacceptable” and says he needs to work on “everything”.

Everything moving forward will depend on the recovery timetable set for Griffin who has to pass the league’s strict concussion protocol before being able to do any work in practice. Head coach Jay Gruden has already come out and said he imagines Griffin to still be the starter. This might be frustrating for some who want to see Cousins or maybe even McCoy to get another shot at the starting job, but to me you cannot give up on Robert yet even though this is his third straight year with an injury.

Important Dates:

  • Face the Baltimore Ravens for the third preseason game (“dress rehearsal”) in 8 days on 8/29 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 15 days by 9/5.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 23 days.

 

Washington Redskins 2015 Season Position Outlooks: Linebackers

The Washington Redskins linebacking core last year was mediocre at best. As fine of a year as Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan had with 13.5 sacks, the rest of the unit was pretty underwhelming. The Redskins got nothing out of oft-injured Brian Orakpo and rookie Trent Murphy who was rushed into a starting role that he was not ready for. This year with the addition of talented OLB Junior Galette and a much improved defensive line, the outlook is brighter.

If there is one thing that is a positive out of the linebacking core than probably no other unit on the team has is its youth. Adam Hayward, 31, is the only player projected to make the team that is over 27 years old. It starts with the probable starters Galette and Kerrigan, both 27, on the ends with Keenan Robinson, 26, and Perry Riley, 27, inside. Then the Redskins can fill in young developing role players in second round picks Trent Murphy, 24, and Preston Smith, 22, outside of Will Compton, 25, and Martell Spaight, 22, on the inside.

This is the way that a developing team works, having starters in the prime of their career with younger players getting ready to take over in the years to come. The current format also allows the Redskins to have fresh bodies at all times without missing a beat. Furthermore, they will not be paralyzed if someone goes down with an injury because of the depth they have across the unit.

With bookends of Galette and Kerrigan, two guys who have a combined 44 sacks over the last two seasons, you can expect opposing quarterbacks to have to step up in the pocket to avoid the corner rushes. If teams decide to double the outside rushes, you can expect big sack numbers from Jason Hatcher and Stephen Paea up the middle. In the end, it should be a win-win for the Redskins pass rush if everything goes to plan.

Inside, it is up to Robinson and Riley to shadow backs and tight ends in the passing game while filling gaps in the run game. They will likely reap the benefits of coming unblocked in the running game due to the improved defensive line, but will still have to react quickly to mismatches the other team took advantage repeatedly last year in the passing game. It will also be key for the duo to make sure all the plays are understood correctly by their teammates on a defense that could see up to 6 new starters Week 1. These fundamentals will have to be worked out during the remaining preseason games.

Thanks to the defensive line and addition of Galette, we should see an improvement from the linebackers this season that should lead to more competitive games.

Projected Week 1 Depth Chart:

  • SLB (Strong Side): Junior Galette, Trent Murphy
  • MLB (Mike): Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Martell Spaight
  • MLB (Jack): Perry Riley, Adam Hayward
  • WLB (Weak Side): Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 9 loss against the Minnesota Vikings

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 29-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings:

1. The Return of Robert Griffin III: not bad, but certainly not good either.

Robert Griffin finished the game completing about 65% of his passes for 251 yards, but threw a game changing interception and took five sacks. Griffin also added 24 on the ground, while allowing Morris to rush for 4.8 yards a pop, a full yard improvement over rushes with Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy under center.

As expected there were some bad decisions by Griffin which in the end came back to cost the Redskins the game even though he was not the only reason why. That being said, with a few better plays here or there he could have won this game for his team.

Before the half, Griffin threw an off-balanced flutter ball intended for Andre Roberts but it was picked off, though the review replay couldn’t conclusively say if it hit the ground or not. This led the momentum to change as the Vikings marched through and over the Redskins defense. Griffin also was guilty of holding the ball way too long throughout the game especially when he has an extremely weak offensive line protection him. This led to getting behind in the down and distance constantly and during the last drive costing scoring opportunities.

Finally, on Griffin’s last throw before the failed Hail Mary, he felt rushed even though no one was around him, did not have his feet set, and delivered a fastball in the dirt and feet of Pierre Garcon, effectively ending the game.

2. Defense struggles in all phases against untalented offense.

The defense played well for the first 29 minutes of the game, and then the wheels came off. After Griffin’s interception late in the first half, the defense could not erase the miscue and then the bleeding did not stop. After escaping blown coverages by Teddy Bridgewater misfires earlier, the defense gave up two 20+ yard passes to receivers without a defender in sight.

In the second half, miscues mounted with a roughing the passer penalty called against Keenan Robinson for spearing Bridgewater to the ground. Then the physical domination by a weak Minnesota offensive line started as there was no pass rush and red zone rushing touchdowns became child’s play. Although Griffin had the opportunity to extend and win the game, the defense is the biggest culprit for this loss.

3. Special teams being special, but only one phase of the team playing well does not win games.

After the air was taken out of the Redskins sidelines when they were in the hole 14-10 early in the third quarter, the special teams delivered. Andre Roberts fielded the ensuing kickoff one yard deep in the end zone and returned it for 45 yards giving the Redskins great field position and a boost. The Redskins turned this into a touchdown drive and recapturing the lead.

Then on the ensuing kickoff again Kai Forbath was able to boot the ball deep in the end zone but the over anxious Cordarrelle Patterson unwisely decides to bring it out from seven yards deep just to get tattooed by Adam Hayward at the 10 yard line. Unfortunately they did not have any other opportunities to make an impact with a possible game tying field goal awaiting.

4. I will continue to say it as long as it is true: Desean Jackson for MVP! But then, the dagger.

Desean Jackson continues to leave his mark on games whether it be with the 45-yard catch early in the game to set up the Redskins first touchdown, his own 13-yard touchdown grab, or a 56-yard catch and run on a seam pattern up the sidelines. All of this is great and exactly what we expected from him this season.

However, the play that many are not talking about the offensive pass interference call against Jackson that played a major role in stalling their penultimate drive. The foul was completely unnecessary as the defender’s own momentum would have done the job instead of the extension of the arm. It set up a first down and 20 yards to go which proved to be too much for the Redskins to pick up in the biggest stage of the game.

All in all, Jackson continues to be this team’s best player and hopefully will continue his output for the rest of his time in Washington.

5. Developments into the bye week.

Although this is a disappointing loss and should sit poorly with the team and fans for the next two weeks, there is hope that Griffin will return to the electrifying RG3 after getting more experience in this system. Additionally, players that will see their roles increase include Leonard Hankerson, who may be activated off of the PUP list, Barry Cofield who may be activated off the short term IR list, and Phillip Thomas who has returned to the team after showing promise at the safety position pre-injury.

Moreover, it will be interesting to see if Jay Gruden decides to make any changes to the starting lineup specifically with Josh LeRibeus, Spencer Long, and/or Morgan Moses somewhere on the offensive line, which is currently much maligned.

This team has the slightest sliver of hope that Griffin will continue to grow. Additionally, they were in the same position after nine weeks in 2012, maybe Gruden will “pretend” to throw in the towel too.

Washington Redskins 2014 Season Preview Part VII: Inside Linebackers

All this week leading up to the Washington Redskins 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 7, District Sports Page is taking an in-depth look at the players that will make up the 53-man roster to start the season in a position-by-position breakdown.

In Part I, Neal Dalal took a look at the Quarterback position.
In Part II, Eric Hobeck examined the situation at running back.
In Part III, Joe Mercer previewed the wide receiver corps.
In Part IV, Joe Ziegengeist evaluated the offensive line.
In Part V, Joe Mercer reviewed Jordan Reed and the tight ends.
In Part VI, Neil previewed the defensive line.

Here is our preview of the inside linebackers.


Perry Riley comes up with the ball in 2011. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Perry Riley comes up with the ball in 2011. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Washington Redskins Inside Linebackers

SUBTRACTIONS: London Fletcher (retired), Nick Barnett (free agency), Bryan Kehl (free agency), Josh Hull (released)

ADDITIONS: Adam Hayward (free agency), Akeem Jordan (free agency), Darryl Sharpton** (free agency, placed on IR)

STARTERS: Perry Riley (“Jack” Linebacker), Keenan Robinson (“Mike” Linebacker)

BACKUPS: Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Akeem Jordan

Replacing London Fletcher is the biggest storyline for the inside linebackers in 2014 (Photo by Brian Murphy)

Replacing London Fletcher is the biggest storyline for the inside linebackers in 2014 (Photo by Brian Murphy)

Perry Riley: The team’s “jack” linebacker returns after signing a three-year/$13 million contract in the offseason. Riley had an up-and-down year in the final season of his rookie contract in 2013, leading to debate as to whether or not the team would even bring back the 2010 fourth-rounder.

But with many holes, including inside linebacker due to Fletcher’s retirement, the team decided to re-sign Riley just before the start of free agency. He had a strong year in 2012 and looked to be on the rise. But although he led the team in tackles for the first time in his career last season, he seemed to regress a bit as he often struggled in coverage and, like many others, had too many missed tackles.

Riley is still young, only 26, so there’s certainly still time for him to improve and he’ll look to rebound in 2014 with improved tackling and coverage.

Keenan Robinson: When Fletcher announced his plans to retire towards the end of last season, it was immediately clear the Redskins would have a huge hole to fill in the offseason. While the 16-year veteran struggled last year, he was still the heart and soul of the defense and was truly a coach on the field with his knowledge and leadership. With the offseason acquisitions of Hayward, Jordan, and Sharpton, it was not clear initially who would fill the void on the starting defense.

As it turned out, the team decided to go with an in-house option, giving Robinson the first team reps in OTA’s and mini-camp. The third-year player has minimal experience, missing significant time due to pectoral injuries in each of his first two seasons, but when Washington drafted him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, it appeared the team had a long, athletic linebacker that could perhaps take Fletcher’s place eventually.

While injuries may have stunted his development, it appears Robinson is up for the task in year three as he’s looked very good in training camp and preseason with the first-team defense. He will take over Fletcher’s “mike” role and will be responsible for making the calls in the defensive huddle. If he can stay healthy, he could be in line for a major breakout year.

Adam Hayward: After their extremely poor performance last season, improving the special teams units was a huge priority for Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden this offseason. The team went about this by bringing in hard-nosed players who have excelled on special teams in the past.

Enter Hayward who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2007 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and served as the special teams captain for them each of the past three seasons. The Redskins announced the signing of the eight-year veteran to a three-year deal on only the second day of free agency, indicating bringing him in to improve the special teams was a top priority. While he can fill in at inside linebacker, and has done so in the past with the Bucs, his primary duty will be to lead the revamped special teams unit.

Will Compton:  An undrafted rookie last season, Compton spent the majority of the year on the practice squad until getting promoted to the active roster in late December after Barnett was placed on IR. The Redskins did well to develop him and it appears he’s ready to contribute in his second season. Throughout training camp and the preseason, Compton consistently got reps with the second-team defense and can play either linebacker spot.

While he’s not a tremendous athlete, the 25-year-old linebacker appears to make sound tackles and knows the defense. Barring injury to one of the starters, he figures to primarily contribute on special teams in 2014.

Akeem Jordan: A free agent who played for the Kansas City Chiefs last year, Washington brought in Jordan on a one-year deal to provide depth at inside linebacker and further bolster the revamped special teams.

The 28-year-old had spent the first six seasons of his career under Andy Reid (first with the Philadelphia Eagles then Chiefs) before signing with Washington. Jordan is more of just a two-down linebacker because of deficiencies in coverage but he still figures to be a contributor on special teams.

Darryl Sharpton: A 26-year-old free agent coming from the Houston Texans, Sharpton was another one-year signing to provide depth and help on special teams. Unfortunately, the hard-hitting linebacker suffered a serious high-ankle sprain in the preseason and was placed on IR.


Joe Miller is Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. A southern Maryland native, Joe is an alumnus of the University of Maryland with a degree in communication. He’s been a passionate follower of D.C. sports and especially the Redskins his entire life, even watching a Redskins’ Super Bowl victory from his dad’s arms as a baby in 1992. When not watching sports, Joe works at the Bowie Baysox, a minor league baseball team in Prince George’s County, MD and also contributes content for Son of Washington. You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeCoolMiller.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins preseason finale win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here are five big takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 24-10 preseason finale win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night and the implications:

  1. The Washington Redskins have had a good preseason avoiding injuries in their first three contests, and they survived the huge scare when Morgan Moses went down with a knee injury last Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately this week that was not the case as knee injuries were sustained by NT/DE Chris Neild and LILB Akeem Jordan. A source with knowledge backed up Jay Gruden’s belief that it is very likely that Neild has a significant ACL tear of his right knee according to ESPN 980 Radio. This could very easily open the door to a roster spot for Clifton Geathers, massive body that showed agility and power off the ball. Jordan is believed to have a non-major tear to either his MCL or ACL, but is preliminarily not having an end to the season quite yet. ILB is one of the toughest roster spots to project this year where guys will be cut that could produce this year. One huge thing that is helping Will Compton is his ability to play “Mike” & “Jack” positions. Jordan can only play Mike and Adam Hayward only Jack. Thus, the next men up for Washington at these positions are Geathers and Compton who have now possibly secured jobs for the rest of the year.
  2. The next toughest position to project for the Redskins is clearly at the running back position. Since Roy Helu did not receive any playing time it is safe to say that he has secured a roster. Chris Thompson needed a hall of fame performance to even creep back into the mind of Gruden as his durability is in question constantly. Thompson had two bright moments in an otherwise vanilla performance: he had a 25-yard catch and run reception and nearly an amazing touchdown run where he broke two tackles, one in the backfield, to lunge short of the goal line. That subpar performance opened the gates to Silas Redd and Lache Seastrunk who both improved their stock quite well, while Evan Royster saw limited playing time in which he did next to nothing. Redd was the workhorse with 79 yards on 14 rushes, while Seastrunk had a more mediocre six rushes for 23 yards. The thing that Seastrunk has had on his resume since the beginning is his speed, which differentiates him from rest and it is tough to cut a guy who can a take screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown as he did in the game.
  3. The battle at wide receiver was more of the usual as Aldrick Robinson and Ryan Grant continued to shine. Robinson managed 75 yards on five receptions off eight targets, while Grant posted a similar 73 yards on five catches on a mere six targets. The things that stands out to coaches is Aldrick’s motivation to run full speed ahead on a perceivable go route to attract both the cornerback and safety, clearing the way for Chris Thompson’s 25-yard reception. On the flip side, Grant runs great routes, has good hands and is focused. Two guys who have done nearly nothing wrong this offseason have given Coach Gruden the easy decision to have quality depth behind an already elite receiving corp.
  4. A topic of speculation comes from the quarterback position as third stringer Colt McCoy played the entire game with most of the second string weapons. McCoy posted great fantasy numbers with 321 yards and two touchdowns, but had two end zone interceptions which dropped his QBR down to 105.7. Numbers that are both appropriate and welcomed for a third stringed quarterback, but not numbers to assure a roster spot on a team that may be looking to keep an extra guy in another area. That begs the question was this McCoy audition to show Gruden that he would be idiotic to cut such an asset? Did backup signal caller Kirk Cousins not play because he is about to be traded to the Rams? Or maybe he should have played to potentially raise his worth even more? All of these are possible explanations, but we will never know the answer. If Cousins is indeed staying with the team for the season, then McCoy is probably not needed.
  5. The preseason is over and now it is time to look forward and start scheming against the Houston Texans. Gruden will have to put some fairy dust on his current starting offensive line to keep Robert Griffin III clean from the dynamic bookends of Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt. As fans we are all anxiously awaiting the start of the 2014 season and cannot wait!
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