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Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Saints

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Saints

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, November 17, two days before the Washington Redskins play the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 12:05 p.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice, approx. 1:30 p.m.

Days until:

—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 7
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 14
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/19) 24

Quick Redskins news hits

WR Terrelle Pryor missed practice on Thursday with an ankle injury. Jay Gruden said that he was getting an MRI done so he was not on the field doing rehab work. Pryor did not appear on the injury report on Wednesday.

5 Under pressure vs. Saints

QB Kirk Cousins—The theme among the offensive players is simple—the Redskins are going to have to put up at least 30 points to win. The Saints average 29.8 points per game so if the Redskins can hold them to a bit under that 30 points will do it. Since Cousins has been the starter the Redskins have put up 30 points without passing for at least 290 yards just twice. Cousins will need to be on point.

RB Samaje Perine—Welcome to the big time, kid. In his second NFL start and his first as “the guy” after Rob Kelley was put on injured reserve, he will need to be productive. The Saints’ main defensive weakness is stopping the run and if the Redskins are going to exploit it, Perine will have to get the job done.

WR Josh Doctson—He had his chances last week. A corner made a great play to break up a potential TD. The Turf Monster got him on another potential score. And a third touchdown chance turned to dust when Cousins overthrew him on a deep pattern. His chances may be limited but it’s hard to see the Redskins pulling out this game without a key catch or two from their most talented receiver.

ILB Martrell Spaight—Like Perine, Spaight has had a start or two under his belt but now he’s at the top of the depth chart for the rest of the season due to injuries. The Saints are a top-five rushing team and it will be up to Spaight and Zach Brown to make tackles close to the line

S D.J. Swearinger—He was all over the field for most of the second half on Sunday, picking off passes and providing support in the run game. He will have to do the same thing on Sunday. Swearinger will have to read what Drew Brees is doing when he throws the ball and get to the line in run support when the ball goes to Mark Ingram or Alvin Kamara. He will have to play like he is in the box and like he is the last line of defense.

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

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USA Today Sports Images

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.

MORE REDSKINS: STATE OF THE REDSKINS

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.

RELATED: MAURICE HARRIS DOES IT AGAIN

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 Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 11

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 11

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 16, three days before the Washington Redskins play the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome.

Timeline

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:

—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 3
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 7
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 14

Quick Redskins news hits

The Redskins rounded out their roster by signing inside linebacker Zach Vigil. He was with the team all offseason and in training camp and the preseason so he is familiar with the defense.

State of the Redskins

Note: I have decided to abbreviate the State of the Redskins post and omit the stats. I will occasionally include them when I break this out into a separate post.

Top storylines

The injury bug continues to bite—It’s the old two steps forward, one step back scenario. The Redskins have most of their starting offensive line back but now two starters, RB Rob Kelley and ILB Will Compton, have been put on injured reserve. Maybe they can take another couple of steps forward this week if they can get DE Matt Ioannidis and TE Jordan Reed back. But the way this season is going it will be time for another shoe to drop.

Rushing game missing—The Redskins have not rushed for 100 or more yards in a game since the loss to the Chiefs right before the bye. Not surprisingly, they have been 2-3 in that stretch, with the wins coming against the woeful 49ers and in near-miracle fashion in Seattle. Like most teams, the Redskins need a sustained running game if they are going to have sustained success.

No home cooking—The Redskins’ loss to the Vikings dropped them to 2-3 at FedEx Field. That’s after going 4-4 there last year. It’s probably not a coincidence that the last time they played well at home when they went 6-2 in 2015, they made the playoffs. Yes, the visiting team jerseys in the stands are annoying but it’s up to the Redskins to play well enough to keep their voices out of it and put a compelling product on the field, and a compelling experience in the entire stadium, to make ticket holders feel they are getting great value and hold on to their tickets.

Record: 4-5, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 0-3
vs. NFC: 3-4
vs. AFC: 1-1
Home: 2-3
Away: 2-2

Next three games

Sunday @ Saints—The Saints’ offense has remained strong while their defense has gone from awful to better than average. With Drew Brees as good as ever throwing the ball and running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara pounding the rock, this is the toughest game left on the Redskins’ schedule.

Thanksgiving vs. Giants—It’s easy to look at this as a game where the Redskins carve up the Giants, a team in utter disarray and without many key players. But the team and fans would be well advised to look at New York’s Sunday night win in Denver a few weeks ago and not write off their NFC East rivals.

Nov. 30 @ Cowboys—The Redskins go back-to-back Thursday nights for the first time ever. The Cowboys will be without Ezekiel Elliott, who won’t have a court hearing on his suspension being lifted until the day after this game. They looked bad without Elliott, and perhaps more importantly, left tackle Tyron Smith against the Falcons. We will see how they look in two weeks.

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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