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Flashback Friday: Past training camp battles

Flashback Friday: Past training camp battles

There are few battles for starting jobs with the Redskins this year. Just in case you’re yearning for a good, old fashioned August battle for a starting spot, here’s a look back at a few of the more memorable ones from the Redskins’ past:

1972: Billy Kilmer vs. Sonny Jurgensen -- This was the very height of the Sonny vs. Billy debate. Jurgensen, a future Hall of Famer, had suffered a shoulder injury in a preseason game the previous year. In came Kilmer, a veteran journeyman who was acquired in George Allen’s first trade with the team. All he did was lead Washington to postseason play for the first time in 25 years.

As they came to camp in Carlisle in 1972, Allen let the two battle it out. “George tried to create a rivalry at every position,” Kilmer said. Especially, it seemed, at signal caller.

The rivalry was a friendly one. “Sonny and I hit it off right away,” said Kilmer. “We understood that we had a good chance to be on a winning team so instead of being petty about things we decided to help each other.”

Not surprisingly in a city that loves a good leadership controversy, the fans took sides in the issue. Bumper stickers proclaiming that the car’s occupant liked Sonny or Billy were hot items. Unofficial counts around town showed a slim but certain margin in favor of Jurgensen. “I wasn’t surprised that the fans took sides,” said Kilmer. “Sonny is the guy and always will be.”

Both quarterbacks played well during the preseason, so Allen was forced to make his decision based on other factors. The week before the season opener in Minnesota, the coach announced that Kilmer would be the starter as a reward for his performance the previous season. Jurgensen would take over four games into the season and win all three of his starts before his year ended when he ruptured his Achilles tendon. Kilmer came back in and earned Pro Bowl honors as he led the Redskins to Super Bowl VII.

1996: Gus Frerotte vs. Heath Shuler--While Sonny vs. Billy was a Clash of the Titans, Gus vs. Heath had a more mortal feel to it. Coach Norv Turner had declared that the two 1994 draftees would fight it out for the job in Frostburg, Maryland after Shuler, the man Turner handpicked to be his quarterback and the third overall pick, displayed a tendency to be both injury prone and erratic. While Frerotte, a seventh-round pick, didn’t possess Shuler’s upside, he appeared to be quite competent and more dependable.

While the two rivals weren’t enemies, they weren’t quite good buddies either. Frerotte said, "It's competition. On the field, you can't be buddy-buddy.”

Both played well in the early preseason games, but just when it came time for Turner to make his decision, they both stunk up RFK Stadium in a 28-7 loss to Cincinnati. Turner announced that the job was Frerotte’s, based on consistency. The decision essentially ended Shuler’s Redskins career as he got on the field for just one play in 1996 and was cut after the season ended.

1999: Skip Hicks vs. Stephen Davis--When the Redskins decided to release Terry Allen, who had led the team in rushing in each of his four season with the team, the heir apparent was second-year back Skip Hicks. The third-round pick out of UCLA was second to Allen in rushing in 1998 with 433 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Also allowed to compete for the job was Stephen Davis, a fourth-round pick in 1996 who had filled in as a fullback in 1998.

Rarely is the favorite to win the job knocked out of the competition in the early going, but that’s what happened here. After just a few days of practice, Turner was impressed with Davis rare combination of speed and power. Davis started the preseason opener and, essentially, the job was his right then and there. He rushed for 1,405 yards in leading the Redskins to the division title.

Join me for a live blog of Saturday's preseason game. Go here for details.

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed the making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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