In the NFL, OTAs are different from training camp in terms of access. Every training camp practice is open to the media and many of them are open to the fans. In the spring, teams are only required to open one OTA per week to the media, a total of three. The three-day minicamp is also open to the media by NFL rules.Since the media was last allowed into the teams first OTA a week ago Monday, they have had four additional practices. So that is where we pick up the story lines going into OTA No. 6, which the media will be able to see.Here is what to watch for:--Might as well start with Robert Griffin III. Each day more and more of the offense is being installed. He did not look entirely comfortable in the pocket last Monday and it will be interesting to see how he responds with even more plays in his head today. The key for Mike and Kyle Shanahan is to give Griffin enough to challenge him without overwhelming him. The balance is important and how well and how quickly he learns and adjusts will be critical to how well he can perform as a rookie.--Chris Cooley, who lost 15 pounds during the offseason, showed no effects from the knee injury that cost him most of the 2011 season. He wore no brace or wrap of any kind on the repaired knee and he ran and cut like the Cooley of old. But that was on the first day. How is the knee doing after five practices?--Whos returning kicks? It looks like the weather will permit todays practice to be held outside so there should be a good opportunity to see who is fielding punts and kickoffs. Brandon Banks is the incumbent returner but he will have to fight off strong challenges from the likes of Aldrick Robinson, Anthony Armstrong, rookie Jordan Bernstine, possibly veteran Santana Moss, and others. With the team likely to keep three quarterbacks this year and perhaps an additional offensive lineman, it will be difficult to keep a return specialist as Banks was last year. The returner may well end up being whoever can do the job competently and still contribute at another position.--Will DeAngelo Hall be there? It appears that much more was made of his absence from last weeks OTA than was warranted. London Fletcher said that Hall had been present for nearly all workouts prior to the one he missed and absence from one of many days of voluntary activity is not anything to get worked up over. We have not heard if he has been present for the four OTAs since last Monday since they were closed to the media and attendance isnt discussed. If hes not there today, however, then there could be a story. This time Mike Shanahan should be available for questions after practice to clear things up, assuming he can avoid being blindsided by one of his defensive backs.Days until: Minicamp 12; training camp 58; preseason opener @ Bills 70; Redskins @ Saints 101; home opener vs. Bengals 115
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24
Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants
Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.
Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.
Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.
Keys to winning
- Run the ball—The Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
- Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
- Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.
Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.
Redskins 31, Giants 13
Tandler on Twitter
For those looking for an “easier” schedule for the #Redskins next year, remember that his year is a third-place schedule. That got them the two games they just lost, the Vikings and Saints. Can’t tell year to year in NFL.— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) November 22, 2017
In case you missed it
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- The recipe the Redskins should follow to beat the Giants
- Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan
- 7 or 8 players will be game-time decisions for Redskins
- Who will return to Redskins from IR in 2018?
- Crowder among five under pressure vs. Giants
The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game.
Let's be honest: the call was terrible.
Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation.
We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.
The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan).
Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.
If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong.
You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.
“Glossed over”? The ball was released from within the pocket w a free rusher and no receiver in the area - intentional grounding. It’s a judgement call as to "facing loss of yardage." Receiver running the wrong route is not a criteria that bails the QB out. https://t.co/IOuAICQfKb— Troy Aikman (@TroyAikman) November 22, 2017
Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.