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Can Crowder turn around Redskins' return woes?

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Can Crowder turn around Redskins' return woes?

Although Jamison Crowder is listed at just 5 foot 8, the fourth round draft pick could make a huge impact next season if he’s able to produce as the Redskins’ punt returner.

Crowder returned a total of 47 punts the past two seasons as Duke and averaged 14.5 yards per attempt. He also scored four touchdowns, including an electrifying 68-yarder in the Sun Bowl last December.

“I feel like I can help out in multiple ways,” said Crowder, who also eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving each of the past three seasons for the Blue Devils. “For one, I can come in and be the return man, punt return guy and be able to help set up the offense with good field position, score touchdowns. Otherwise, [I can] come in and be a good slot receiver as well. I can come in and make plays, and do whatever is necessary to help the team win.”

The Redskins are deep at wide receiver with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and Andre Roberts currently occupying spots 1-3 on the depth chart. Crowder might be able to join that mix as a rookie, but his best opportunity to make an impact early in his NFL career could be at punt returner because, well, the Redskins need a productive one.

Roberts got off to a decent start as the punt returner in 2014 but his effectiveness slipped down the stretch as the team slogged to a 1-7 finish. He finished tied for 19th, averaging 7.4 yards per return.

This offseason, Crowder figures to find himself in a competition with Roberts and possibly running back Chris Thompson, who returned seven punts for 36 yards in 2013.

Crowder describes himself and decisive and elusive as a returner.

“The main things I always work on are just the little things,” Crowder said.  “Making sure I deal with the ball first, make sure you take care of the little things first, make smart decisions. Be a great decision maker back there. I don’t want to have any fumbles or get hit, because you don’t want to make a fair catch when it’s too tough. Just make great decisions. That’s the main thing I always think whenever I go out on the field for punt returns. Be a great decision maker first, field the football and after that, just make the first guy miss. The rest is just natural ability, running ability.”

Coach Jay Gruden said he could see Crowder as the Redskins’ No. 1 returner this fall.

“Oh yeah, I could envision it,” Gruden said. “He’s been productive at it when he’s had the opportunity. He’s such a good receiver at Duke that they probably didn’t use him as much they would liked to have because he was such a key weapon for them on offense. But he’s the type of guy did a lot for them and he’s got the great, quick first step and he is a natural at punt returner.”

RELATED: [Redskins aimed to bolster special teams in later rounds]

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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

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Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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