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Jaguars expect to have QB Gabbert back at Packers

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Jaguars expect to have QB Gabbert back at Packers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars had the worst offense in the league with running back Maurice Jones-Drew and quarterback Blaine Gabbert healthy.

Now, Jones-Drew is out indefinitely because of a sprained left foot and Gabbert is going to try to play with an injured non-throwing shoulder.

``Yeah, we're in a bad spot,'' linebacker Paul Posluszny said Wednesday.

That could be an understatement, especially with the Jaguars (1-5) playing at Green Bay (4-3) on Sunday.

Jones-Drew was using a push scooter to get around the facility Wednesday, trying to keep weight off his booted foot. Gabbert, meanwhile, struggled to raise his left arm during warm-ups before practice. But the second-year player fully participated in practice.

It's unclear how long Jones-Drew will be sidelined. He injured his foot on the first play of Sunday's 26-23 loss at Oakland and finished the game on crutches. He said Wednesday he doesn't expect to need surgery.

``It's kind of a waiting game right now,'' Jones-Drew said. ``I don't know anything. Just trying to get myself together.''

Gabbert will have a better idea about his shoulder and his ability to manage pain later in the week, after taking the majority of snaps in practice.

``There is always going to be something,'' Gabbert said. ``You're always going to be in pain, whether it's your arms, legs, knees, neck. That's just part of the game, part of the sport. You just have to manage it and deal with it the best you can.''

The Jaguars didn't deal with either injury very well last week.

Rashad Jennings ran 21 times for 44 yards and a touchdown in place of Jones-Drew.

``That's not a production that I'm happy to put on the field,'' Jennings said. ``I've got to get better. There's a lot on me. I put the onus on me.''

Jennings started the season opener at Minnesota following Jones-Drew's lengthy holdout but injured his right knee early in the game and has played sparingly since. He will make his fifth career start Sunday.

``Regardless if we got criticism or we got praise, it's about getting a win on the board,'' Jennings said. ``So as grown men in this locker room, we're taking it amongst ourselves to go out here and get a win.''

The Jaguars are trying to avoid the franchise's second 1-6 start (2003).

The problems have been aplenty. The offensive line has been inconsistent at best. Gabbert has rushed things in the pocket. There have been 20 dropped passes. The defense has generated little pass rush, missed tackles and blown assignments in the secondary.

Chad Henne experienced some of the offensive issues firsthand when he replaced Gabbert in the second quarter against the Raiders. Henne completed 9 of 20 passes for 71 yards in relief and was sacked three times.

``Everybody has to do their job, whether it was protection, some of the routes, me being inpatient at times,'' Henne said. ``It's just a lot of things. It's definitely 11 guys doing the right thing at all times, and that's what makes the offense go.''

Jacksonville's offense has gone nowhere all season. The Jaguars are averaging 236 yards a game - about 60 yards less than 31st place Arizona - and has shown few signs of progress in coach Mike Mularkey's first season.

``It's hard to be consistent when you don't have your guys in there week in and week out,'' Mularkey said. ``Hopefully these guys stepping in will help our team win.''

Mularkey remains positive despite having to play without Jones-Drew. Why?

``I just think we've been in this position early in training camp when we were going against some of those teams without Maurice,'' he said. ``We can function.''

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With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

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USA TODAY Sports

With Burakovsky out, is Chandler Stephenson the next man up?

With Andre Burakovsky out for the remainder of the first round at least, someone will have to replace him in the top six. Originally, it looked like Jakub Vrana was the man for the job. Based on Game 4, however, it now looks like Chandler Stephenson is the "next man up" for the Caps.

While Vrana may have top-six skill and a high ceiling, it was Stephenson who stepped into the second-line role on Thursday playing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. Stephenson finished with two shots on goal in 17:28 of ice time. Vrana, meanwhile, played for only 6:40.

On Friday, Barry Trotz praised Stephenson's hockey IQ for allowing him to adjust to the top-six in a complementary role.

"[Stephenson's] an intelligent player," Trotz said. "He played with [Backstrom] a lot [Thursday]. If you talk with the real top-end guys, he has the ability to think like a top-end guy in terms of play with them. He’s a very intelligent player. He skates extremely well. He’s got some strength to his game. He can complement people. I think his ability to play those different roles and his hockey IQ when you play with those skill guys, he plays more of a give-and-go game than an individual game. When you play with those high skill guys, you’re able to compliment them very well."

Stephenson has spent the majority of the season on the fourth line. He was drafted as a natural center, but has played primarily wing since coming to the NHL. The ability to play both positions gives Stephenson more versatility than most forwards which Trotz credits for helping him see the game so well.

"The great thing about Chandler is he’s played multiple positions over the years. I think it’s allowed him to play a fourth-line role and with high-skill guys. At center-ice, you distribute the puck a little more.  He’s turning into a well-rounded player for us."

On the surface, having Stephenson on the fourth line over Vrana makes little sense. Vrana is highly skilled and has great speed, but he is also prone to giving up turnovers and his production can be inconsistent. Trotz has clearly put a premium on responsible play this postseason which gives Stephenson the edge.

But Game 4 was only one game. If you are going to get top-six minutes, Stephenson will be expected to produce offensively as well. Despite the limited ice time he has gotten, Vrana has shown he can have a major impact on games. In Game 1, he set up the team's only 5-on-5 goal and drew a penalty. In Game 3, he drew two penalties in less than two minutes, giving Washington a two-man advantage.

Stephenson had a fantastic game in Game 4 when he was given the chance to play in the top-six. The next step will be finding a way to have a bigger impact on the game.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

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