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Jay Gruden presser recap: Coach impressed with rookies Perine, Nicholson

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Bob Youngentob for CSN

Jay Gruden presser recap: Coach impressed with rookies Perine, Nicholson

Here are some of the topics Jay Gruden discussed during his conference call with reporters on Monday.

—We covered the extensive injury list in a separate post. To sum it up, there is a lot of pain but perhaps few if any missed games.

—Talking about the offense in the fourth quarter, Gruden said that he “challenged” Kirk Cousins. Then he backed off a bit on a follow-up question. “I didn’t really, just, ‘It’s the fourth quarter, man.’ It’s his time,” he said. “It’s time for him to make the plays that he’s going to make. We had a lot of confidence in him and he had a lot of confidence walking out there and performed well.”

—Yesterday, I wrote about the Redskins’ improvement in defending the run (with the appropriate small sample size warning). When asked about it, Gruden pointed to improved personnel. “I just think overall the team defense, I think we’re better personnel-wise, quite frankly,” he said. I think that helps. I think when you add Jonathan Allen… I think Matt Ioannidis had a heck of a game and you bring in Ziggy Hood, who is playing good nose guard football.” Hood and Ioannidis are not new to the team but both are playing better than they did last year, particularly the second-year player Ioannidis. He also mentioned free agent acquisitions Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

—Rookie RB Samaje Perine came in to spell Rob Kelly a bit early in the game and then took the main load when Kelly went out in the second quarter with a rib injury. While gained 67 yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per carry, his 21 rushing attempts were key to keeping the clock moving. “I think he did a nice job, really,” Gruden said when asked about the rookie’s debut from scrimmage. “I think I felt him run with a lot of power. Even after his 10th, 12th, 15th carry, I still think he had power left in the tank, which was good to see.”

—At the time of the press conference, the Redskins’ statement on putting Su’a Cravens on the reserve/left team list, ending his season, had not yet been issued. Gruden was asked about a Sunday report that he had talked to Cravens about coming back. “No, I haven’t heard anything from Su’a or about Su’a,” he said. That’s what you call a flat denial.

—In his first two years as a starter, Cousins completed 68.3 percent of his passes. This year his completion percentage is 61.2. His passer rating is down for 99.3 to 82.9. It’s complicated, said Gruden. “I think there are a lot of things involved in his completion percentage,” he said. “We have taken more shots. We haven’t done as many of the quick passing game that really get your stats up to around 70 percent. I think those will come. I think the quick passes will come and I think we will hit some more shots down the field.”

MORE REDSKINS: INJURY LIST LONG, PAINFUL BUT NONE SERIOUS

—Early in training camp, fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson couldn’t fully participate in practice as he recovered from a shoulder injury. In Week 2, he started at strong safety. “I think he has just progressed,” said Gruden when asked about the change. “We started him in training camp – obviously he wasn’t on PUP, but he was unable to practice, but he was getting all the walkthrough reps, so he was getting all the mental reps, which is important for him. Then when he was able to practice, he just got in there and made some plays. He is a big, physical guy that can run and we are excited about his prospects.”

Junior Galette has played 39 snaps in two games. He got a sack against the Eagles but it was wiped out by a penalty. Still, Gruden likes the way he’s playing. “Oh, yeah, we’re happy with where he’s at,” he said. “We’ll try to get him more and more in there, but with Kerrigan and Preston, we’re trying to get all three of them on the field from time to time. But I like where Junior is at. He’s getting better and better.”

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

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Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Those who doubted the wisdom of the Redskins drafting a guard with the fifth overall pick in 2015 (yes, I was one of them) should be preparing to eat their words.

On draft day and during the two and a half years since then, there has been plenty of talk that the Redskins would regret taking Brandon Scherff, who played tackle in college but seemed destined to play guard in the NFL, so early. Not that anyone thought that Scherff would be a bad NFL player but given that they left DL Leonard Williams and edge rusher Vic Beasley on the board, he needed to develop into an All-Pro caliber guard to justify such a high pick.

Well, don’t look now but Scherff is making his way towards becoming one of the best guards in the game. Not just Pro Bowl good; he checked that box last year. Scherff could become the first Redskins position player to be named a first-team All-Pro since Darrell Green and Jim Lachey earned the honors in 1991.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

Asked about Scherff’s play this year, Jay Gruden was effusive in his praise.

He’s reacting. He’s anticipating. He’s pulling. He’s pass-blocking. He’s run-blocking. He’s double teaming. He’s doing everything you want him to do out in screens, out in space. He’s the best guard out in space by far in this league. It’s fun to watch him.

You can listen to Gruden’s full comments on Scherff in the video above.

Gruden is not exactly an unbiased observer. But other, more neutral analysts also have been heaping praise on Scherff.

An article on Pro Football Focus said that Scherff had an “elite” game against the 49ers, not allowing any pass rush pressures and dominating as a run blocker.

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Two other analysts clipped some plays from the 49ers game to illustrate just how well he was playing.

This one from Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network shows one play, the 49-yard screen pass to Chris Thompson on which Scherff threw a key block.

I’m not sure what the scouting credentials Brandon Thorn has but he did put together a nice collection of clips of Scherff making quality blocks both in space and in the interior vs. the 49ers.

Will Scherff earn All-Pro honors? That could depend on how well the team does. While the All-Pro teams are supposed to be individual honors, it’s tough for an offensive lineman to get many votes if he’s not on a winning team, especially one like Scherff who would be trying to break into the club for the first time.

But the Redskins are not really worried about All-Pro votes. If he keeps playing the way he’s playing and he gets no such consideration it will be fine with them.

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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Need to Know: Redskins to face Eagles’ clutch Carson Wentz, productive Zach Ertz

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Redskins to face Eagles’ clutch Carson Wentz, productive Zach Ertz

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 20, three days before the Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles for Monday night football.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences, open locker room, after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 9
—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 16
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 34

Injuries of note:
Not practicing
: OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Ty Nsekhe (core muscle)
Limited: CB Josh Norman (rib), CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle), OLB Ryan Anderson (back), S Stefan McClure (knee). OL Tyler Catalina (concussion protocol).
It was encouraging that Breeland and Norman practiced although Jay Gruden noted that they both took place only in individual drills. See the full injury report here.  

First look at Redskins vs Eagles

Number that pops out—LeGarrette Blount, who had a career average of 4.4 yards per carry coming into the year, is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, fourth in the NFL. Not bad for a guy who is supposed to be a lumbering power back. The key to stopping him is the same as it always has been, getting the north-south runner to go east-west. The Redskins did a solid job against him in Week 1, limiting him to a 3.3-yard average on his 14 carries.

The clutch gene?—Carson Wentz is the MVP favorite right now and the thing is that his stats are very good but not very impressive. He ranks 10th in net yards per attempt, 25th in completion percentage, eighth in yards per game, and seventh in passer rating. But he gets it done when it counts. Seven of his 16 touchdown passes have come on third down. His passer rating of 130 on third down is 10 points better than the second-best in that category, a guy named Tom Brady. As a result, the Eagles get first downs on 53 percent of their third-down passes, also best in the league.

Third down passing the key—The Redskins allow conversions on 35.7 percent of third-down passes, 16th in the NFL. If this game ends up with third downs near the Redskins’ season performance they will be in good shape. If the Eagles convert half of their third downs or more, the visitors will be in trouble.

Protecting Kirk Cousins—The Eagles have 14 sacks on the year. They got four against the Redskins in the season opener so they have 10 in their five games since. Their leading sacker is Brandon Graham, who has four on the season. Two of those came in the opener so he has two in the other five games. He will again be lined up against Morgan Moses, who had one of his worst games since becoming a starter against Philly. If Moses plays as well as he has since Week 1 Cousins could have time to have one of his usual big games against the Eagles.

Yes, Ertz is a pain— This is kind of hard to believe but Zach Ertz, who has been in the league since 2013, is third all-time in tight end receptions against the Redskins with 54. He’s behind only Jason Witten and Jackie Smith and ahead of Jeremy Shockey, Mark Bavaro, and Jay Novaeck. Ertz has played nine games against Washington; Witten has played 28 and Smith played 27. So if it seems like Ertz is always a thorn in the Redskins’ side, it’s because he is.

Potpourri: Wentz is the Eagles’ second-leading rusher with 133 yards on 32 carries . . . The Eagles have the third-best special teams DVOA in the league. On punt returns, they are averaging 16 yards per and giving up an average of 5.6 yards. That’s a lot of hidden field position.

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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From the locker room

Josh Norman talking about how it felt when he put some stress on his broken rib during practice on Thursday.

Posted by Rich Tandler on Thursday, October 19, 2017

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