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Gano gets first chance in kicking battle


Gano gets first chance in kicking battle

When the Redskins open the preseason Thursday in Buffalo, a number of players who are engaged in position battles will get their first chance to make an impression.Incumbent kicker Graham Gano is one of them.Through two weeks of training camp, Gano has acquitted himself well as he attempts to fend off Neil Rackers, the veteran signed this offseason to challenge him. Gano and Rackers both are unofficially 16 for 19 in the three head-to-head field goal competitions thus far.But, as Gano and special teams Coach Danny Smith conceded this week, practice means relatively little when determining which kicker makes the 53-man roster. It really will come down to what transpires during the teams four preseason contests, beginning with the Bills.Thats what separates everybody; its execution under pressure, Smith said Thursday in his first public comments since training camp began. Were going put them in those pressure situations and see who executes the best.Smith said his biggest challenge as a position coach will be to ensure that both Gano and Rackers get equal opportunity to show what they can do. To accomplish that, Smith said he plans to have the player who kicks a field goal or point after to also take the ensuing kickoff, as to simulate a normal game routine.On Thursday, Gano will go first if the Redskins kickoff to start the game, Smith said. If not, it will depend on which kicker finished the first half.By the end of the four exhibitions, Smith said it will be obvious to everyone which kicker has the edge.Its going to be on production, solely, Smith said.Gano would seem to have the advantage entering the preseason. At 25 years old, hes 10 years younger than Rackers. Hes got the stronger leg and is familiar to the coaching staff after spending the previous three seasons in Washington.That said, Gano connected on 75.6 percent of his field goals, which ranked 29th in the NFL. That number, of course, was negatively impacted by five blocked attempts.I met with the coaches and they said there wasnt anything I could do anything about it personally, Gano said of the blocks. You dont want blocks at all. But last year, thats the past.Smith declined to say what exactly went haywire on so many attempts in 2011. He did, however, concede that there was plenty of blame to be spread around, beginning with him.We had a lot of issues, to be honest, Smith said.If Gano is going to retain his job, Smith said he wants to see more consistency and focus.Day in and day out you got to do it, Smith said. Just because we do it for a couple years doesnt mean we have it. As a coach in this league, you get new coaches and they get their first contract and they think they arrived. I dont think they arrived until you get another contract. Its the same with a kicker.As for Gano, he said hes not feeling any additional pressure because he used to fighting for his job in camp.But he also said he likes his chances.Im feeling pretty good, Gano said. Im starting to hit my stride and Im looking forward to Thursday.

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

Did you guys know C.J. Beathard is related to former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard?

Of course you do, because that storyline, as well as others like the Vernon Davis fumble(?) and Pierre Garçon penalty have been talked about plenty following the Redskins' 26-24 W over the 49ers on Sunday.

But there are other angles that have been under analyzed from the Week 6 matchup. So as fun as it is to celebrate Chris Thompson's brilliance, put that on hold for a minute and think about these five discussion points.

1) A big recovery by a big man 

One of the most underappreciated plays in football is a fumble recovery by an offensive player. Most of the time, players and fans are just mad that the offense fumbled and ignore the fact that the outcome could've been a whole lot worse.

Do you remember Trent Williams falling on a Chris Thompson fumble early on the Redskins' first drive? Maybe some of you do, but plenty of others probably don't. But because Williams was aware and smothered the ball before a Niner defender could, the Redskins were able to continue their possession and eventually finish it with a touchdown.


2) Kirk's questionable decision

Kirk Cousins provided what proved to be the game's deciding points with his fourth quarter read option touchdown. But it was an earlier run that could've been much more important, and not for the right reason.

On Washington's previous possession — which concluded with a 21-yard field goal — Cousins scrambled for an 18-yard gain, but instead of sliding at the end, he decided to take on San Fran safety Jimmie Ward. The two collided and thumped each other pretty hard, and while the QB may have earned some respect, he also said postgame that Williams immediately reminded him that he should've slid instead.

Was it entertaining to watch a signal caller try and run over a safety? Sure. But was it smart? Not at all. The Packers saw their star quarterback come out on the wrong end of a punishing hit Sunday, and the Redskins just as easily could be feeling their pain.

3) Samaje's second effort

Samaje Perine has a long way to go before he becomes the player many hoped he'd be when the Redskins snagged him in April's draft. But it was him traveling a short distance in the fourth quarter against the 49ers that was a crucial yet overlooked play.

Six snaps before Cousins' rushing TD, the rookie barely converted on a third-and-2 by pushing the pile and refusing to be brought down short of the sticks. Again, his first year as a pro hasn't been excellent, but that was one he deserves credit for.

4) A way too powerful punt

The Redskins' execution after recovering that late onsides kick wasn't just bad on offense. Tress Way's touchback was unsightly, too.

Even after Washington took a delay of game penatly to give their punter more room, Way booted his kick well into the end zone instead of forcing the Niners' returner to fair catch or giving his gunners a chance to down it. Next time, Way needs to use a little less club and force the opposing offense to start farther back than their own 25.


5) Dunbar delivers

Perhaps because of all the injuries in the secondary, as well as an abundance of other things to chat about, a really strong performance from Quinton Dunbar isn't getting the necessary recognition. 

The visitors threw at Josh Norman's replacement often — 14 instances, to be specific — but he more than held his own, ending the contest as PFF's highest-graded 'Skin. Jay Gruden said earlier in the week Dunbar thinks he can cover "anybody, anywhere, anytime," and for the most part on Sunday, No. 47 did just that.

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The injury news for the Redskins wasn't all bad

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The injury news for the Redskins wasn't all bad

The Redskins got some bad news on the injury front on Monday. But there certainly was some good news.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland took what appeared to be a nasty hit to his left knee in the third quarter against the 49ers. He was down on the turf in pain for a couple of minutes before leaving the game. After the game, Jay Gruden said that the initial examination was that it was an MCL injury and that an MRI would be performed.

The MRI results are back and the injury is not as serious as it first appeared. Gruden said it was a sprain and that it was possible that he would be ready to play against the Eagles on Monday night thanks to his properties that resemble those of a certain animated character.


“I think Breeland's always been a fast healer,” said Gruden. “He's like Gumby. He took a pretty big shot on that play and I thought he was going to be out for a little bit of time. He recovers quickly.”

However, not all of the non-Jonathan Allen news was good. Kicker Dustin Hopkins has a right hip rotator muscle sprain. Gruden said that he is “week-to-week.” Going by Gruden’s past use of that phrase Hopkins will miss at least one game. Gruden said that the team would bring in kickers to try out. One will have to be signed if Hopkins can’t play.

Other injury-related news and notes:

—Gruden said that RB Rob Kelley and S Deshazor Everett will resume practice this week. Both players missed the 49ers game. Kelley has been rehabbing an ankle injury and Everett had a hamstring strain.

—Backup S Stefan McClure has a hyperextended knee and is week-to-week. This makes Everett's return very important. 


—Veteran DB DeAngelo Hall is eligible to return to practice this week after spending the first six weeks on the season on the PUP list. Gruden said he might start practicing this week or next. “We want to make sure when he starts practice he's ready to start practice. We don't want to have him start out practice at 80 percent,” he said. “When he starts practice, we want him to be at 100 percent.”

—The door is not closed on CB Josh Norman being able to play on Monday night in Philadelphia. “I think there's a chance, but we'll see,” said Gruden. “That's up to the doctors and Josh and see how he's feeling. We don't want this thing to get reinjured obviously, but if he can go, I'm sure Josh will go.”

—Reserve OT Ty Nseke is still recovering from a core muscle injury and it seems unlikely that he will be able to suit up this week.

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.