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Redskins will start their No. 3 center against the Giants

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Redskins will start their No. 3 center against the Giants

Jay Gruden said during the offseason that the thing that scared him most was not having a good center and a backup available. The coach probably is terrified now.

Spencer Long, who started the season at center, is headed to injured reserve. He has been battling tendonitis in his knees for several weeks and, apparently, an injured quad muscle. Gruden said that Long will have surgery to fix the quad.

MORE REDSKINS: QUANTIFYING THE LATE-HALF DIFFICULTIES

Rookie Chase Roullier has been playing well in Long’s absence but he will be on the shelf at least this week. He broke a bone in his hand against the Saints and, according to a report, he has had surgery to repair it. While he has not been ruled out it seems likely that he will miss at least this game, if not more.

The Redskins’ third option is veteran journeyman Tony Bergstrom. It looks like he will start at center against the Giants on Thursday. The Redskins are Bergstrom’s fourth team in four seasons in the league. He has started four games, all for the Raiders in 2012 and 2015. Bergstrom signed with the Redskins about four weeks ago.

Bergstrom’s backup will be Demetrius Rhaney, who was just signed. He started one game for the Rams after they drafted him in the seventh round in 2014.

As expected, both Chris Thompson and Terrelle Pryor are headed to injured reserve. In addition to signing Rhaney, the team will promote LB Pete Robertson and RB LeShun Daniels from the practice squad. Earlier this week they re-signed DL A.J. Francis. They will have to drop one player from the 53-man roster before all of these moves are made official.

RELATED: APOLOGY FOR BLOWN CALL RINGS HOLLOW FOR COUSINS

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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Need to Know: The five key plays from the Redskins' win over Arizona

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Need to Know: The five key plays from the Redskins' win over Arizona

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 18, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Denver Broncos at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden press conference 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Giants (12/31) 13
—NFL free agency starts (3/14/18) 86
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 129

The five key plays during Redskins vs Cardinals

Sack and strip by Anthony Lanier, recovery by Preston Smith—This was on the third play of the game and the Redskins had a touchdown on the fifth play of the game. It also was the start of a stellar day for Lanier, who had two sacks, a tackle for loss, and three passes batted down in addition to the forced fumble.

Kirk Cousins screen pass to Kapri Bibbs for a touchdown—This was a well-designed play, with Kirk Cousins first doing a play-action fake to Bibbs and then faking a jet sweep to Ryan Grant. All that gave time for the offensive line to form a wall and Bibbs got behind it, took Cousins’ short pass, and rolled 39 yards for the touchdown. That made it 14-3 early in the third quarter, giving the Redskins some breathing room to keep the Cardinals at arm’s length, while their offense struggled at times.

Vernon Davis fumble—The Redskins had a chance to grab some momentum back before halftime after Smith picked off a Gabbert pass at the Washington eight. His return and a personal foul penalty set the Redskins up with a first down at their own 41 with 1:50 left in the half. But on the first play, Davis caught a pass from Cousins, turned upfield and fumbled. The Cardinals recovered and drove in for a field goal that made it 14-9 at halftime.

Second half kickoff gaffe—The Cardinals tried a pooch kick and it worked like a charm. None of the Redskins seemed to know what to do with the kick either before or after it hit the ground. The Cardinals recovered and got a field goal that made it a two-point game.

Gabbert pass for Larry Fitzgerald incomplete on fourth down—After exchanges of field goals in the second half, it came down to a fourth and 10 play at the Redskins 21 with Washington leading 20-15 with 23 seconds left. Gabbert threw for Fitzgerald at inside the 10 yard line. The pass was high but Fitzgerald has made his bones on hauling in such passes. Ex-Cardinal D.J. Swearinger was there to contest the pass and he maybe got a couple of fingers on it. The pass fell incomplete and the Redskins breathed a sigh of relief before celebrating a badly-needed win.

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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Five takeaways from the Redskins’ narrow win over the Cardinals

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Five takeaways from the Redskins’ narrow win over the Cardinals

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 20-15 win over the Cardinals.

Turnovers are important: Part of the Redskins’ problems in their last two non-competitive games was a lack of turnovers. Their only takeaway against the Cowboys and Chargers came on an interception in LA long after the outcome had been decided. Today, the Redskins got one three plays into the game, giving them an extremely short field (six yards) and a 7-0 lead a minute and a half into the game. That proved to be critical on a day when the offense operated well only in fits and starts.

RELATED: Must see photos from Redskins-Cardinals

Kendall Fuller might go to the Pro Bowl: Well, maybe he won’t because not many cornerbacks on 6-8 teams with low-ranked defenses get picked. But he is very, very good. Sunday he was all over the place and finished with eight tackles, including one in the middle of the line on a running play, something you don’t see a corner do often. He also knocked down two passes. The Redskins hope that some of their players who are now rookies can take the same leap that Fuller has between his first and second seasons.

Bad call, Jay: I’m not usually one to bang on Jay Gruden for his play calling but the end around to Josh Doctson late in the third quarter was just awful. They had a five-point lead first down at their own 32. A nice steady drive to any kind of score makes it tough for the Cardinals. But instead of sticking with what was working, Gruden called for an end around the Josh Doctson. It was the wrong play call at the wrong time to the wrong player. Doctson lost 14 yards on the play, which killed the drive. The Cardinals took possession after the punt and got back within two points on a field goal. Not good, Jay.

Special teams still struggle: There were three separate special teams gaffes in the second half. The Cardinals did a pooch kick on the second-half kickoff and they recovered it after the ball took an odd bounce. Then Jamison Crowder let a punt hit the ground and roll all the way back to the six-yard line, costing about 15 yards of field position. Finally, the Cardinals hit a 54-yard field goal but AJ Francis was called for using leverage to try to block the kick, giving the Cardinals a first down. Fortunately, they survived all of the miscues. The defense held Arizona to a field goal after the kickoff, the offense managed to drive for a field goal after getting the ball at the six, and the Cardinals kicked another field goal after the penalty on Francis. Still, the special teams can’t rely on getting bailed out all the time.

A needed win: The Cardinals did manage to put a big scare into the Redskins by driving down to the Washington 21 in the last minute. But the home team held on, averting disaster in the process. Had they lost due to a late drive engineered by Blaine Gabbert, who completed 39-percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 43, things would have become very ugly. A win is a win in the NFL so the fact that a couple of passes went just off the fingertips of receivers inside the 10 on the final drive won’t matter. They will celebrate and go into the week to prepare for the Broncos in a much better frame of mind.

MORE REDSKINS: Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

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.