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Is Arkansas RB Alex Collins what the Redskins want in a second back?

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Is Arkansas RB Alex Collins what the Redskins want in a second back?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 22 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how he might fit in Washington.

Alex Collins
Running back
Arkansas

Height: 5-10
Weight: 217
40-yard dash: 4.59

Projected draft round: 3-4

What they’re saying
Collins was an ideal fit for [Arkansas coach Bret] Bielema's blueprint on offense with his light feet to make sharp cuts, but also his physical nature to welcome contact, finish forward and do most of his damage between the tackles. Collins is a physical runner, but needs to improve his pad level and ball security to be more reliable at the next level.

Although he won't consistently create on his own, Collins has an excellent blend of quickness, patience and power to get what is blocked for him and contribute as an NFL rookie.
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: How much can they trust Matt Jones? He flashed some potential on plays here and there but he lacked consistency and his four fumbles all seemed to come at the worst times.

If they just want a Plan B in case Jones fizzles in 2016 they could wait and sign Pierre Thomas or another veteran still on the street. But if they want to go with running back by committee, with two backs carrying the load they should look to the middle rounds of the draft and perhaps to a back like Collins.

At Arkansas he was a model of consistency; he rarely failed to go to the right spot and get at least as much as the play is blocked for. Collins is not a burner and he’s not a big back but he’s a good combination of speed, size and football smarts.

Potential issues: Jones’ fumbles are an issue and they were an issue for Collins as well. He lost the handle on the ball 16 times during his career, usually due to not protecting the ball properly when fighting for extra yardage. No doubt, McCloughan and company will need to figure out if this is something that the coaches can remedy before they seriously look into him.

Bottom line: Should the Redskins spend a mid-round draft pick on a running back two drafts in a row? Whether they do or not will depend largely on if a running back is the best available payer on the board when they pick.

And I they do take a running back, should they take on with a skill set similar to Jones’? Or should they look towards a back with some demonstrated pass-catching ability (Collins caught just 27 passes in three years with the Razorback)?

If they want a guy who is more like Jones to compete with Jones, Collins should be under serious consideration.

In his own words

About the importance of patience:
I would say it's definitely patience, that plays a huge factor in it because if you're the type of runner that just always runs outside, then they'll just come from the outside and force you up the field. Just being patient, letting things lead up to it, if that's the road it takes you, then you go with it. If you've got cuts up the field, you take the cuts. But I would definitely say it's just being patience, letting things play out. If that's the best opportunity, take that opportunity. But as far as just aiming for the outside, it wouldn't work every time because defenses wouldn't let you keep doing that.
Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.