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Montae Nicholson returning for the short-term could help the Redskins out in the long-term

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Montae Nicholson returning for the short-term could help the Redskins out in the long-term

The Redskins appeared to be in disarray at the safety position after Su’a Cravens, uncertain about his NFL future, was put on the reserve-left team list, ending his season just before Week 1. The 2016 second-round pick had been set in stone as the team’s starter at strong safety for the entire offseason and there were high hopes that he and free agent signee D.J. Swearinger could stabilize a position that has been a problem area for years.

Fortunately, the Redskins had a backup plan. Fourth-round rookie Montae Nicholson, who didn’t participate in OTAs and part of training camp due to a pre-existing injury from college, started in Week 2. His size (6-2, 215) helped him get drafted. When he finally got on the field, he impressed with his speed and physical play. Pro Football Focus has him graded as the Redskins’ best safety.

MORE REDSKINS: PLENTY OF INCENTIVE TO WIN

However, the Redskins have not been able to get much production out of him lately. He missed two games with a shoulder injury, returned for the game in New Orleans, and left that one early with a concussion. Nicholson has been out the two games since then.

The good news is that he was on the practice field on Monday, having passed the concussion protocol to be able to participate. The Redskins hope that he can stay on the field, gain some more experience, and help them win some games.

“It’ll be good to get a great look at him the last four weeks if he is healthy enough to play,” said Jay Gruden. “Any time you have that size, speed, that range that he has, it’s a great luxury to have when he’s available.”

Another benefit of getting Nicholson back on the field is the opportunity to evaluate him. His NFL.com draft scouting report read in part:

Nicholson's lack of playmaking production combined with his unsure tackling make him a traits-only prospect who could have a hard time sticking in the league unless he finds more confidence and aggression.

He seems to have turned around the confidence and aggression issues—just ask Raiders WR Michael Crabtree, who missed a game after Nicholson popped him in the chest in Week 3—but the organization would like to have more evaluation time to see if he can become a mainstay at the position.

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Of course, if he is going to be a foundational member of the defense he needs to be available. Sometimes players learn to stay on the field after a season or two of learning how to take care of their bodies. Chris Thompson is an example of this, the broken fibula he suffered this season notwithstanding. There are also are players like Jordan Reed, who just can’t seem to stay healthy no matter what they try.

If Nicholson ends up being more like Thompson, the Redskins could finally have solved the longstanding safety problem.

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.

  

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Devin Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why

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Devin Hester deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why

Devin Hester officially announced his NFL retirement on Tuesday after 11 years as the most feared return specialist in NFL history. 

Hester who spent a majority of his career with the Bears and Falcons finished with 20 return touchdowns, the most in NFL history. His 14 punt return touchdowns is also an NFL record. Hester also returned a missed field goal for an 108-yard touchdown. He became just one of eight men to score a kick return touchdown in the Super Bowl. 

It wasn't just what he did, but how he did it, and that matters. Hester was explosively and entertaining, sometimes taking a route well longer than the official length of his return touchdown. Hester had the combination of speed and quickness you only see once in a generation. 

Devin Hester is worthy of a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Brian Mitchell is why.

Hester is the greatest return specialist in NFL history. But Mitchell is the best return specialist in NFL history.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT

There's a difference too, between greatest and best. Hester was feared. He was revered. But nobody did it better than Mitchell. Nobody has ever fielded more returns than Mitchell (1,070), and nobody has ever compiled more return yards (19,013) than he. Only Hester has more career return touchdowns than Mitchell (13).

While Hester was boom-or-bust on many of his returns, Mitchell always got yardage. He averaged at least 10 yards per punt return in nine seasons and led the NFL in 1994 with 14.1 yards per punt return. He played in 223 of 224 possible games. Nobody did it better.

Mitchell has still yet to get the call from Canton, Ohio for enshrinement. Mitchell was a nominee for the 2017 class, but did not receive enough votes. But with Hester now officially on the clock for enshrinement, one things become clear: A return specialist will head to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Hester will get his name called, and when he does, it will be because of Mitchell. Nobody did it better than Mitchell. The omission of Mitchell has been a contentious point recently, and if the Hall of Fame has not been able to add Mitchell to their hallowed halls, what would it take?

Devin Hester. That's what.

Hester had to do things pro football world had never seen before. He had to do truly great things. Things that you couldn't do in the Madden video games.

If the Hall of Fame has been reluctant to add Mitchell, only a player like Hester would be able to budge them off their archaic line.

Make no mistake about it: Brian Mitchell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

So does Devin Hester, and when he makes it, he'll have B-Mitch to thank. 

 

 

 

 

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Jordan Reed's unsatisfying 2017 season has come to an official end

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USA Today Sports

Jordan Reed's unsatisfying 2017 season has come to an official end

The Redskins made a roster move that many have anticipated for the last few weeks.

The team announced that 2016 Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed, who has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury, has been placed on injured reserve. That ends a very disappointing season for the five-year veteran.

It seemed that Reed was never fully healthy all year. He was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with a toe injury when he reported to camp in late July. Reed remained on PUP until a week before the start of the regular season, when he was activated.

MORE REDSKINS: 11 SECONDS OF MOMENTUM

In six games, Reed’s production was running well below his career averages in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He was averaging just 7.8 yards per catch after averaging 10.5 per reception prior to the season.

It seemed like he was on the verge of breaking out in Week 7 against the Eagles, when he caught eight passes for 64 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. But the following week against the Cowboys he suffered the hamstring injury early in the game and he hasn’t played since.

Reed was close to returning a few weeks ago but he suffered a setback and he just couldn’t get the hamstring healthy enough to play. With the Redskins now officially out of playoff contention, the decision apparently was made to put him on the shelf and start getting him ready for next year.

RELATED: FEW UPS, MANY DOWNS VS. CHARGERS

In other moves announced by the Redskins, they put RB Byron Marshall (hamstring) and LB Chris Carter (broken fibula) on IR. Both were injured during the loss to the Chargers on Sunday. Carter will have surgery and face a long rehab. Perhaps Marshall could return after a few weeks but the Redskins needed to get a third running back on the roster.

That running back is Kapri Bibbs, who has been on the Redskins’ practice squad. Also signed to the active roster were practice squad linebackers Pete Robertson and Otha Peters.

Added to the practice squad were LB Alex McCalister, RB Dare Ogunbowale, and S Orion Stewart.

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.