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Is Samaje Perine ready to take over the top running back spot?

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Is Samaje Perine ready to take over the top running back spot?

With Rob Kelley on the shelf with injuries, the Redskins are going to turn to a fourth-round rookie to try to get their running game in gear.

Samaje Perine moves up to the top of the depth chart after Kelley went to injured reserve with knee and ankle injuries. Perine’s playing time has been spotty this year. He didn’t get into the game on offense three times this year. His high in snaps this year was 30 against the Raiders, a game where Kelley was inactive due to a rib injury. Last week he played 20 snaps against the Vikings after Kelley departed with his injuries.

As the season went on, Perine’s performance running the ball has improved. In the first seven games of the season, he averaged 3.0 yards per carry. I’m not sure if there is the running back equivalent of baseball’s Mendoza line, but that’s pretty close to it.


In the past two games, Perine has averaged 4.0 yards per carry. Here is a small sample size warning—he has just 11 carries in those two games. But he seems to be finding holes more easily and avoiding the ankle tackles that seemed to bring him down regularly earlier in the season.

“It’s just reps, I have to get some reps,” said Perine. “Once the reps build up and once you feel more comfortable in the situation and things start to slow down for you. Once you’re comfortable you know where everyone’s going to be. I can anticipate, kind of, what the line is doing and what the defense is doing.”

Jay Gruden noted that Perine worked almost exclusively out of the shotgun formation in college at Oklahoma and it has taken him some time to adjust to the I-formation the Redskins often use when running the ball.

“He’s good out of the shotgun, but we’ve just got to keep giving him the ball,” said Gruden. “Like I said the other day, I think he’s a guy that’ll get better with more carries. He’s such a physical guy that I think the more carries he gets, he’ll wear down a defense.”

One of the reasons for the zero-snap games for Perine has been ball security issues. He has just one fumble on his official stat sheet but there have been some mix-ups on handoffs with Kirk Cousins that clearly appeared to be Perine’s fault, but were charged to Cousins’ ledger.


Cousins believes that these issues can be worked out with Perine now taking the starter reps in practice and getting more reps in games.

“I would think that that will get better as we work together longer, that he’ll get a better feel for how each exchange looks and I’ll get a better feel for what he needs,” said Cousins.

Gruden noted that Perine is the kind of back who needs to get a lot of carries to be effective.

“He’s not so much a spell guy, he’s more of a ‘run it, run it, run it,’ type guy,” he said.

The Redskins have not “run it, run it, run it” much during their last four games. The running backs have averaged 17 carries per game. Perhaps related to that is the fact that the Redskins’ record in those games is 1-3. Possibly Gruden will give Perine enough carries to get warmed up and then we might really see what he can do.

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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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 14, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.


Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 10
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 17
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 133

State of the Redskins

Top storylines

Jobs on the line? It’s been the conventional wisdom that the jobs of Jay Gruden and his staff are safe, barring a complete collapse at the end of the year. Well, after two ugly losses we are 40 percent of the way to a complete collapse. The Redskins don’t even have to look good down the stretch, they just need to win two of the final three and be competitive in the other. Gruden might be able to survive a couple more games like the Cowboys and Chargers debacles but if that happens I wouldn’t want to be him on January 1, the day after the season ends.

Shutdowns started—Jordan Reed going on injured reserve could be the first of a few moves to end the seasons of players who won’t be healthy in time to play in more than one or two games. It lets the player dive into rehab and it lets the team sign and get a look at a player who can stay on the roster through the offseason and compete for a roster spot in 2018. There could be more coming up until Week 17.

Playing out the string—Last week, when the Redskins were technically alive for the playoffs they apparently couldn’t muster enough motivation to prepare properly. It will be interesting to see how they react this week with their playoff odds reduced to zero.

Last three games

Sunday vs. Cardinals (6-7)—The Cardinals have fallen even further than the Redskins. Two years ago, they were on their way to a first-round bye and an appearance in the NFC title game. This season they are 6-7 after suffering from a raft of injuries, including losing their starting QB and All-Pro running back David Johnson. Can two teams with nothing to play for put on an entertaining show?

Christmas Eve vs. Broncos (4-9)—And in comes another team that has fallen even further and harder. The Broncos were lifting the Super Bowl Trophy two years ago. Now, the defense that spearheaded that run is still solid but without a reliable quarterback, they are having issues. At this point, your guess at if it will be Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, or Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback is as good as mine.

New Year’s Eve @ Giants (2-11)—Will this game be bye-bye to Eli? Changes are coming to New York and Manning, sometimes a Redskins nemesis and sometimes a player who gift-wrapped wins for Washington, could be on the way out. The Redskins could be playing to avoid the kind of upheaval that has already begun in the Big Apple.

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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Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source

Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency to find a team that will give him plenty of snaps, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

Galette's contract will expire once the 2017 regular season ends, and while the 29-year-old pass rush specialist appreciates the Redskins organization and fans, he wants to play. 

After suffering season-ending Achilles injuries in 2015 and 2016, Galette has stayed healthy throughout the 2017 season. 

Still, he hasn't been on the field much.

Ryan Kerrigan leads the Redskins with 358 snaps in pass rush situations, and Preston Smith ranks second with 297, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Galette has played only 197 snaps this season in pass rush situations. 

For comparison, rookie Jonathan Allen logged 112 snaps in pass rush situations. Allen played in just five games before heading to the injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury. Galette has played in all 13 Redskins games this year, and hasn't appeared on the injury report once. 

Compounding the issue, Galette has been effective when on the field. 

Pro Football Focus rated him the third best defender on the Redskins this season, behind only Kerrigan and cornerback Kendall Fuller. 

As Rich Tandler noted, there will be a market for Galette. All NFL teams need pass rushers, and it appears Galette still has plenty left after his two-year layoff. Remember, in 2013 and 2014 Galette had 22 sacks for the New Orleans Saints.  This season, he has two sacks. 

The Redskins deserve credit for sticking with Galette after two lost seasons, though Galette deserves credit too for working back from not one but two Achilles injuries. 

Washington's coaches and front office speak highly of Galette, and there haven't been off field issues. For whatever reason, the playing time just hasn't been there. 

Looks like that will change next year. 

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