RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 14, five days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets at FedEx Field.
—Today's schedule: Walkthrough 10:35; Jay Gruden news conference 2:45; Practice 3 p.m.; player availability after both sessions
—The Redskins last played a game that counted 217 days ago. It will be 29 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.
—Days until: Final roster cut 20; Cowboys @ Redskins 35; Browns @ Redskins 49
The Redskins week that was
With the Redskins on the verge of wrapping up training camp here’s are some of my impressions of what has taken place over the last two and a half weeks here in Richmond.
—Preston Smith left practice early last Tuesday with a slight shoulder injury. Plenty of players who are locked on to the roster would have used the shoulder as an excuse to sit out preseason game No. 1. But Smith did some rehab to get his shoulder ready and played 18 snaps on Thursday. He even came in for a while in the second quarter long after the other starters had departed. Smith said that he wanted to get some “extra reps”. You have to like the second-year players mindset.
—Greg Toler recorded an interception today and made a few other plays. He is making things very difficult on the coaches. To keep him they will either have to cut Quinton Dunbar or Dashaun Phillips or go with six corners. The latter is hard to justify when you already have two safeties, Hall and Blackmon, who played corner their entire careers until this year.
—Last week Matt Jones said that he worked a lot on lowering his pad level over the offseason. He has not done it much during training camp; Jones still runs upright. But last year he was admonished for lowering his pads in practice. It was a little too rough and dangerous for a limited-contact practice. He only got two carries in Atlanta so it’s hard to tell if he really has changed his style. Green said that they want to “get him going” next week against the Jets so maybe we’ll get a chance to see.
—Did Nate Sudfeld lock up a spot on the 53-man roster against the Falcons? There has been plenty of speculation that the Redskins will go with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and hope that they can keep Sudfeld on the practice squad. But for a stretch in the third and fourth quarters the rookie looked better than he has at any point in training camp. You could picture him getting the team through a bad spot if disaster struck at the quarterback position during the season. Even considering that the opposition was the Falcons’ third teamers that was a respectable performance.
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In case you missed it
After missing the last eight games, the Redskins brought back place-kicker Dustin Hopkins from the injured reserve and waived Nick Rose.
Hopkins became eligible to return from the IR this week and took part in practice all week. Jay Gruden wouldn't commit to one kicker or the other when he spoke earlier in the week, but the decision came down on Saturday.
Rose played well in Hopkins' absence, making 10 of 11 field goals including a 55-yarder. The rookie Rose had some struggles with extra points, missing two of his 20 attempts, though neither snap/hold combination was totally clean either.
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Hopkins has the stronger leg and is capable of booting the ball out of the end zone on seemingly every kickoff. With Rose as kicker, at times the Redskins deployed a different strategy where kicks were aimed for the goal line, forcing a return.
Washington's kicker for parts of the last three seasons, Hopkins has a career 84 percent field goal conversion rate and 94.6 percent conversion rate on extra points in 36 games.
The Redskins sent Hopkins to the IR after a Week 6 win over the 49ers with a right hip rotator muscle injury.
MORE REDSKINS: SLOW STARTS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE REDSKINS
For the second consecutive game, the Redskins got blown out on the road. First in Dallas, then in Los Angeles, Jay Gruden's team is reeling with mounting questions and pressures about 2018 and beyond.
The best way to calm down the flames? Get a win.
Washington will have that chance on Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) when they host the Arizona Cardinals. Getting the victory won't be easy, however, no matter how bad the Redskins need it.
- Turn the page - The Redskins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-27. The results have been terrible, and the outcome in Los Angeles could have been much uglier had the Chargers not pulled starting QB Philip Rivers. Still, those games are over, and Washington needs to focus on the Cardinals. Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot "wallow" in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come.
- Get it going - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense had by far their worst statistical output last week in LA. The offense must get back on track, and that means a better performance from Cousins and the 'Skins run game. Against the Chargers, Washington generated only 201 total yards and just nine first downs. Nine, their second worst total since having only 15 first downs against the Cowboys the week before. At this stage of the season, the Redskins defense will not win this team any games. The offense must do it, and that means improved play from the line, the quarterback and the skill positions.
- Make a play - Turnovers can win or lose games, and in their last two blowout losses, it's no surprise the Redskins have been on the wrong end of the ledger. Washington has five turnovers in their last two games, and has generated only one takeaway in that span. (It can be argued that shouldn't even count, as it came on an interception from Chargers backup Kellen Clemens in the final minutes of a blowout.) Washington ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed, and that won't improve with linebacker Zach Brown out this weekend. Generating turnovers, particularly against Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert, should be the defensive focus.
Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked about preparation before the Chargers game-
We didn't spend last week playing checkers.
News & Notes:
- Gabbert has been sacked 15 times in the Cardinals last two games. Washington comes into Week 15 with the 13th most sacks in the league.
- The Cardinals defense ranks in the Top 10 in yards per play, yards per game, and rush yards per game. Despite that, Arizona's defense ranks 25th in points allowed.
- D.J. Swearinger, who played for Arizona last season before signing in Washington as a free agent, is tied for fourth in the NFC in interceptions.
- Jordan Reed won't be playing this week, or the remainder of the season. Washington moved Reed to the injured reserve this week.
- Arizona coach Bruce Arians was a college quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1972 to 1974.
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