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Facing Suh and Wake, young Skins' O-line must grow up quickly


Facing Suh and Wake, young Skins' O-line must grow up quickly

After a long and drama-filled summer, the regular season is here. Finally. And, if you’re a Redskins fan, you’ve probably already recognized the need for Kirk Cousins and Co. to get off to a fast start. Indeed, there's an early opportunity. Their first three opponents finished third or worse in their respective divisions in 2014 while posting a combined record of 20-28. And the first two games are at home.

Up first are Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins, who visit FedEx Field on Sunday for a 1 p.m. kickoff (CBS). Before the game, be sure to tune into Redskins Kickoff on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic at noon. We’ve got you covered after the game, as well; Redskins Postgame Live begins at 4.

Here are Tarik’s five keys to the opener:   

1-Kirk Cousins. This game, no doubt, represents the biggest of his career. No longer in Robert Griffin III’s shadow, “It’s Kirk’s team,” as Coach Jay Gruden put it. But will it be Kirk’s time to shine and prove his legion of doubters wrong? Cousins’ bugaboo has always been his carelessness with the football. In fact, he threw nine interceptions in five starts last season. There are, however, many positives to his game, as well. For one, he’s a more polished pocket passer than Griffin, takes significantly fewer sacks and is a better fit for Gruden’s offense. Cousins also has good chemistry with No. 1 wide receiver DeSean Jackson and starting tight end Jordan Reed. Last season, Jackson had three 100-plus yard games and three touchdown receptions in games Cousins started. Against Arizona (the only game Cousins started and finished with Reed in the lineup), Cousins found his tight end eight times for 92 yards.

2-Offensive line. There will be no easing into the season for the young right side of the Redskins’ offensive line. Second year tackle Morgan Moses and rookie guard Brandon Scherff will be put on the spot immediately as they line up opposite Dolphins end Cameron Wake and four-time first team All-Pro tackle Ndamukong Suh. Wake, a Beltsville, Md. native, has 63 sacks since 2009 and his explosiveness off the snap is certain to test Moses, who will be making his second career start. Scherff, meantime, figures to see his fair share of Suh, who is arguably the most disruptive D-lineman in the game.  

3-Joe Barry’s defense. The biggest moves of the offseason came on the defensive side of the ball. Terrance Knighton. Chris Culliver. Dashon Goldson. Stephen Paea. Ricky Jean-Francois. Sure, Junior Galette ended up on injured reserve, but he wasn’t part of the original plan; he fell into the Redskins’ lap. The original plan was to hire Barry and provide him with the pieces he needed to implement an aggressive front and a competent backend.  On paper, the unit is improved over the group that yielded an NFL worst 35 passing touchdowns last season and 27.4 points per game (tied for third worst). But there are concerns. There are five new starters and the unit is still getting comfortable in Barry’s scheme, so it might take some time for the group to gel. And, of course, depth in the secondary could be an issue Sunday against Tannehill, whose 4,045 yards passing in 2014 ranked 11th. With Bashaud Breeland serving a one-game suspension, David Amerson and Justin Rogers are the third and fourth corners.    

4-New returners. One of the Redskins’ biggest issues on special teams last season was the unit’s inability to break off chunks of yardage on punt and kickoff returns. In fact, Andre Roberts ranked 19th in both categories. So Roberts has been replaced rookie Jamison Crowder (punts) and Chris Thompson (kickoffs). Crowder, who was an electrifying returner at Duke, will be making his pro debut. He’s got the speed and shiftiness to make an impact in the NFL, but how is his decision making? Thompson, meanwhile, struggled as a returner in 2013 but showed enough in practice this offseason to warrant a second chance. Facing strong-legged Miami rookie kicker Andrew Franks, however, Thompson may not get many opportunities Sunday.

5-Injuries won’t be an excuse. As of Friday morning, the only Redskins whose status remain in question are Griffin (concussion) and offensive tackle Tom Compton (calf). Griffin is expected to the third string quarterback behind Cousins and Colt McCoy, meaning he’ll probably be inactive. Compton is listed on the depth chart as Trent Williams’ backup, but backup right tackle Ty Nsekhe can play both sides, as well. It’s possible, if not likely, that this will be the healthiest the Redskins will be all season. They need to take advantage of that.    

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy. 


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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

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.