October 19, 2019

Washington Redskins Season Preview Part II: Running Backs

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.

Monday, Neal Dalal took a look at the Quarterback position.

Tuesday, we examine the situation at running back. Who will be the third down back, who didn’t make the team and just how deep are the Redskins in the backfield.


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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!

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 4 Review: Redd, Seastrunk Impress in 24-10 Preseason Finale

The fourth and final game of the 2014 preseason for the Washington Redskins was all about the competition for roster spots, so the resulting 24-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was almost immaterial. Colt McCoy went the distance at quarterback and went 22 of 29 from 321 yards and two touchdowns in the teams’ final tuneup before the regular season openers next week.

Several positions are still up for grabs and this game is more than likely the final chance for the proverbial “bubble players” to prove their worth to Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and the rest of coaching staff.  The three position battles that stood out the most in this matchup were third/fourth running back, backup linebackers, and the kicking battle.

Chris Thompson, Silas Redd, and Lache Seastrunk all received considerable playing time tonight and it’s hard to say who will come out on top in Head Coach Jay Gruden’s eyes.  Redd averaged just under six yards a carry and Seastrunk caught a screen pass and took it 80 yards for a touchdown.  Redd looked to have improved from earlier in training camp in his pass protection as well and he picked up the blitz nicely, allowing McCoy to keep his eyes down field. Redd capped the night off with a late fourth quarter touchdown and amassed 79 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.

The two running backs who did not necessarily impress were Thompson and veteran running back Evan Royster.  It’s hard to fathom that Royster will make the roster, and Thompson faces an uphill battle as Redd and Seastrunk have both shown flashes of brilliance through the offseason, training camp, and the preseason games. Thompson rushed eight times for 18 yards and Royster lost one yard on four carries.  On a night that each running back was hoping to secure that roster spot, only two made a strong case.

The backup linebacker battle has become an interesting one, especially in the case of Gabe Miller. He was used on some blitz packages in the first quarter and showed that he is very physical and was able to generate penetration up the middle. Late in the first quarter, Miller strip-sacked Bucs’ QB Mike Kafka and recovered the fumble near the goal line leading to a Redskins score.  Akeem Jordan is also another interesting “bubble player” as he is a special teams ace, but we will have to wait and see the result of his knee injury he suffered early in the third quarter.

Then there are the kicking battles. Robert Malone seemed to be a shoe-in for the punting job after the release of Blake Clingan, but newly signed Tress Way impressed in this game.  His first two punts pinned the Bucs deep in their own territory and kicekd for 103 yards on only two punts.  Meanwhile, Malone punted once in the first half for 31 yards. 

For the place-kickers, both showed why each is still on the roster and the battle not yet been decided.  Kai Forbath was 1-for-1 for a 45 yarder, and made his extra point attempt.  Hocker, on the other hand, missed his only attempt, a 39-yarder, and made his extra point.  So, in essence, both have missed in the preseason from distances that NFL kickers should not routinely miss from.

The key in the kicking battle could be on kickoffs, and Hocker seems to be farther ahead than Forbath in this area.  The incumbant has already kicked one out of bounds earlier in the preseason, and Hocker just seems to be able to put the ball deep every single time.  This is crucial for a coaching staff that would like to boast one of the best special teams units in the NFL.

Now on to positions that seem to be decided.  Wide Receiver Ryan Grant is something special.  He was a consistent target for McCoy all night, amassing 71 yards on seven receptions and a touchdown.  He came back on his routes to receive underthrown balls, maintained awareness when making catches on the sideline, and went over a defender to catch his touchdown pass.  Needless to say, Gruden is happy with his draft pick that seemed like a head scratcher at the time due to the depth at wide receiver.

The amount of penalties in this game was another encouraging stat.  The Redskins were penaltized just four times for 45 yards.

There was some bad news. Both nose tackle Chris Neild and linebacker Akeem Jordan went down with apparent knee injuries.  MRI’s should be expected in the near future for both, but these are two players that could have been key role players and depth on this 2014 team that may now be potentially lost for the year.

Overall, this was a good final test for the Redskins reserves and “bubble players”.  It will be interesting to see just how much this final preseason game will factor into the final cutdown to the 53 man regular season roster.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins victory over the Browns

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ Monday night 24-23 preseason victory over the Cleveland Browns.

  1. An up-and-down performance from Robert Griffin III. The interception RGIII threw was an ugly one, where he should have thrown the ball away and didn’t plant his back foot and throw with good form. This will be something the third-year pro will surely go back and correct on film. However, the interception wasn’t helped by poor pass protection by both the offensive line and running back (Roy Helu). However, on the second play of the game Griffin did a fantastic job of standing tall in the pocket, progressing through his reads and finding the open man down field. Griffin also threw a pretty ball to Andre Roberts at the end of the first quarter. Griffin’s transition into more of a pocket passer will take time, but he has shown promise on plays like these.
  2. The defensive pass rush may be the biggest strength on the Redskins entire team. Even without Jason Hatcher the front seven has played very well. The pass coverage has to improve though. The Redskins were bailed out by poor passes from the both the Browns quarterbacks, in addition to some drops from the wide receivers.
  3. The running back position is wide open. Roy Helu still has the inside track on the third-down back job, however, he struggled both in pass protection and in catching the ball against the browns. Evan Royster, Helu’s main competitor for playing time, played very well including an impressive catch-and-run on a circle route and a solid run to finish off a two-minute drive with a touchdown.
  4. Ryan Grant is making a push to be the fourth receiver on the Redskins depth chart. After Aldrick Robinson had a solid performance in the first pre-season game, Grant continues to show rare polished routes for a rookie and consistently good play, including a beautiful touchdown strike from Kirk Cousins.
  5. Turnovers need to stop, especially the sloppy avoidable ones. The starting offensive unit played well, and moved the ball well, but when you fumble a ball that is directly in your hands and throw an easy interception you won’t win many games. Turnover margin was one of the biggest reason for the Redskins success in 2012 (+17) and failure in 2013 (-8). The Redskins simply have to take care of the ball better.

Washington Redskins Training Camp Report: Injury and position battles news

Washington Redskins training camp in Richmond is winding down, but head coach Jay Gruden hasn’t been able to fully evaluate all his players due to some injury concerns this August. The new boss addressed some of those issues, and some position battles, in his press conference on Monday. [Read more…]

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