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Need to Know: What will the Redskins do at running back?

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Need to Know: What will the Redskins do at running back?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 7, 35 days before NFL free agency starts.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 22
—NFL Draft (4/26) 78
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 214

Answering your questions from social media

If I had to guess right now, I’d say that the Redskins will do nothing at running back. I know that will make a lot of fans mad, but be prepared for it. I think they want to see Perine develop and there still is faith in Rob Kelley. Perhaps they will utilize Chris Thompson a little more on first and second down. But this team just doesn’t invest much at the running back position. They would rather develop a good tandem than have one bell cow runner. If they do add a RB I’d say they’ll go with either a lower-tier free agent or a later-round draft pick.

Brian Mitchell told me that the team’s issues with the running game stem more around attitude than personnel. Perhaps if they can change the mindset a different running back would help. But the attitude has to come first.

The Redskins have seven picks. They traded away their third in the Alex Smith deal and they have an extra seventh. The key to your other question is “by the time the draft rolls around”. We don’t know what they will do in free agency. If they bring back Zach Brown, they are in pretty good shape with him and Mason Foster, but they would need depth. Do they sign a wide receiver in free agency? Do they get a free agent left guard or do they try to find one in the middle rounds of the draft? A lot will have to play out. Ideally, they will have most of their immediate needs take care of and they can draft for positions they will need in 2019 (possibly edge rusher if they can’t re-sign Preston Smith) and 2020 (maybe a Trent Williams replacement to groom).

I have to disagree with the premise in the first part of your question. They have lost one of their top three corners in the Smith trade and they may need to replace free agent Bashaud Breeland. And if they lined up today, their No. 3 wide receiver would be either Maurice Harris or Robert Davis. So those clearly are areas of need the Redskins will try to address in free agency or the draft.

To the second part, drafting strictly for need is a bad idea. You end up reaching and you have a terrible draft. But Charley Casserly told me that in the early rounds, the best available player is guided by what you need. For example, if the top player on the Redskins’ board when their second-round pick comes up is an offensive tackle, they would skip down the board a spot or two to get a player at a position of greater need or perhaps try to trade back. In the fifth, they take the tackle if he has the best grade.

I hate to keep disagreeing with premises here but calling a quarterback who is around for three years a “stopgap” in today’s NFL is just inaccurate. Three years is an eternity in the free agency era. Sure, a young QB who is signed to a six-year deal is preferable but there aren’t any options for that given Cousins’ lack of desire to stay.

That being said, I would think that the Redskins believed that Colt plus a rookie would equal a 5-11 season at best. Maybe you think that’s acceptable for rebuilding, but the organization disagrees. You think there are a lot of visiting fans in FedEx Field now? Imagine if they were 2-9 going into a November game against the Eagles. They might as well just paint the stadium green. Again, you can agree or disagree with a desire to remain competitive but that’s why they did it.

I’ll also add that I think they figured that any quarterback they would want will be gone by pick No. 13. They would have to give up more than they traded away in the Smith deal to move up to get one of them.

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

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy. 


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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

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