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Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out

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Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out

Checking out the latest enemy intelligence on the Redskins next opponent, Da Bears...Cutler, Forte set for preseason debuts: After sitting out the Bears opener last week against the Broncos, Chicago's starting quarterback Jay Cutlerand all-everything running back Matt Forte will take to the field for the first time this preseason Saturday against the Redskins. Don't expect offensivecreativity to join them."Were going to keep things pretty basic," said Cutler, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "What we unroll against the Redskins isnt the final product. We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to execute plays. But its not going to be the end of the world if were not clicking on all cylinders."The Bears went 7-3 last season with Cutler under center, buta broken thumb ended his season with six game remaining. Without thenot-so cuddly signal caller, who cut down on his turnovers and performed more as heady leader compared to his tempestuous past, Chicago lost five of its final six games and missed the postseason. As for why Cutler missed Bears' most recent game, the birth of his first child came the day before.Chicago's leading rusher and receiver last year, Forte will also make his preseason debut after acting only as an observer last week - a role he also performed throughout much of the season due to a contract squabble. Without the 26-year-old all-purpose back in the lineup against the Broncos, the Bears totaled 36 yards on 21 carries. Free agent Michael Bush brings additional firepower to Chicago's ground game this season.And when Cutler sits...: Former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is expected to take over. Though it's still a little surprising the now 30-year-old (wow, 30!) could not land either a starting job or a scenario where he could find move into the lineup without an injury occurring elsewhere, the Bears are certainly better off for with his presence. Campbell, who signed a one-year, 3.5 million deal this offseason, completed 4 of 5 passes for 13 yards against Denver last week.Protecting the offensive line: The group of blockers expected to keep Cutler upright often had their quarterback running for his life last season. Part of new offensive coordinator Mike Tice's attempt at helping the leaky situation? Eliminate all seven-step drops from the Bears passing game and go with three and five step kind. That means rather than simply relying on hiscannon of a passing arm,Cutler now must engage in quicker mental gymnastics to find targets. That in itself is a new dynamic, but one that should helplimitthe hits and sacks.It also should help Tice gets some Z's. After the Denver loss, Tice joked (I think) the team's offensive line woes "causes him to have trouble sleeping at night."The dicey left tackle situation alone surely leads to insomnia. Tice indicated this week the Bears intend on keeping a tight end on the line next to incumbent and suspect starter J'Marcus Webb and challenger Chris Williams in order to fend off the Redskins outside pass rush led by Brian Orakpo. No Urlacher: The one Chicago defender everyone knows underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, taking Brian Urlacher out not just for the Redskins game, but the entire preseason. Optimistically the Bears are hoping the perennial Pro Bowl middle linebacker will return for the September 9 opener against Indianapolis. (Chicago Sun-Times).Fantasy focus: Brandon Marshall's reunion with Cutler, his former teammate with the Broncos, provides the Bears with their best wide receiver threat in years. Perhaps as interesting is what's going on at the other receiver role where big-bodied rookie Alshon Jeffery is making a run at the starting spot opposite Marshall. The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder caught four passes in the preseason opener and has been a practice standout throughout the summer. With or without the Week 1 starting job, Jeffery is a fantasy sleeper that should go off the board in the later rounds.

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Maybe the Redskins aren't as banged up on defense as we thought they were

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Associated Press

Maybe the Redskins aren't as banged up on defense as we thought they were

The Redskins’ defense may not be as banged up as we thought it was.

On Thursday, the first day of serious preparation for their Monday night game in Philadelphia, injured defenders CB Josh Norman (rib), CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), and S Deshazor Everett (hamstring) all practiced on a limited basis.

Norman was inactive against the 49ers after suffering a broken rib against the Chiefs on October 2. Breeland injured his knee against San Francisco. They are the starters, and if they both can play against the 5-1 Eagles it would be a huge boost to the defense.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

It should be noted that both cornerbacks only took part in individual drills, so it is no sure thing that either will be ready to play in Philadelphia. But having them at practice was a good start.

Everett is a reserve safety and a key special teams contributor. His presence in the latter area could be important as the Eagles’ performance on special teams is among the best in the league.

LB Ryan Anderson (back) and S Stefan McClure (knee) both practiced on a limited basis.

Also practicing was S DeAngelo Hall. He has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of training camp rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered in 2016. The team now has a 21-day window during which they can activate him. However, he must sit out at least one more game.

On offense, Trent Williams (knee) did not practice. That is not ideal but he was able to play last Sunday after being out of practice all last week.

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Jay Gruden announced roster moves that had been reported previously, with K Dustin Hopkins (hip) and DE Jonathan Allen (foot) going on injured reserve. First-year player Nick Rose will handle the place kicking duties and A.J. Francis will take Allen’s roster spot.

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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A.J. Francis promoted to Redskins' 53-man roster

A.J. Francis promoted to Redskins' 53-man roster

The Redskins put Jonathan Allen on injured reserve and brought in a familiar face to replace him on the roster.

Jay Gruden announced that the team has signed former practice squad member A.J. Francis to take the place of Allen, who suffered a Lisfranc injury last Sunday in the game against the 49ers. Francis spent part of last season on the Redskins practice squad and he was on the 53-man roster for a couple of weeks, although he did not appear in a game. Francis also was on the team this year before being released in the cut to 53 on September 2.  

The former Maryland standout has played in three NFL games, all in 2015, appearing in two for the Seahawks and one for the Dolphins.

RELATED: MORE ON ALLEN'S INJURY

In all, Francis has been a part of 22 transactions, starting when he signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2013.

Allen has undergone surgery to repair the foot already. The normal schedule for a Lisfranc calls for a player to stay off of the foot for 6-8 weeks and then start rehabbing, which can take a month or possibly a lot longer.

He would be eligible to be activated off of injured reserve after missing eight games, which means he technically could play in Week 15 against the Cardinals. But that would be an extremely optimistic timetable for such an injury.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

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.