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Need to Know: Five Redskins who have exceeded expectations this year

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who have exceeded expectations this year

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 6, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Bye week

Days until: Packers @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Cowboys on Thanksgiving 18; Redskins @ Cardinals 28

Five Redskins who have exceeded expectations in the first half

RB Rob Kelley—It surprised many when he made the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent. Kelley was quiet the first month of the season. People sat up an took notice when he ran five times for 59 yards in Week 6 against the Eagles, including an impressive 45-yard run. The conventional wisdom was that the Redskins would have to go out and get a veteran to back up Matt Jones. But after Kelley rushed for 87 yards against the Bengals after starting in place of an injured Jones those thoughts have vanished. He will be a major part of the running game the rest of the season.

C Spencer Long—It looked like he was going to spend the season on the bench after Shawn Lauvao won the starting job at left guard. But then Kory Lichtensteiger went out with a calf injury and Long has become entrenched as the starting center. It’s not entirely due to Long’s presence but the Redskins have rushed for 100 yards or more in four of the five games that Long has started.

WR Jamison Crowder—The second-year player was expected to contribute significantly but he was thought to be behind at least four other players in pass catcher pecking order. Crowder, however, has elbowed his way to the front of the line. He leads the wide receivers in receptions with 40 and he leads the team with four touchdown receptions and in receiving yards with 498. And let’s not forget Crowder going from having the worst punt return average in the league last year to having the best at 19.2 including an 85-yard touchdown return.

OLB Trent Murphy—Expectations could not have been lower for Murphy after he put on weight to move to defensive end only to get asked to move back to linebacker after Junior Galette went out for the season. However, he is second on the team with six sacks, matching his career total coming into the season. After some time to learn the ropes of the NFL Murphy has transformed into the pass rusher the team hoped he would be when they drafted him in the second round in 2014.

S Will Blackmon—The eight-year veteran, who converted from cornerback during this past offseason, is not going to make the Pro Bowl but he has done a good job stepping in at free safety in place of the injured DeAngelo Hall. Blackmon isn’t a long-term solution there and he isn’t going to make a lot of big plays but he brings a lot of football IQ points to the last line of defense.

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In case you missed it

https://audioboom.com/posts/5242507-episode-16-making-sense-of-the-trent-williams-suspension

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201