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Need to Know: Redskins should stick to the script vs. Falcons

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Need to Know: Redskins should stick to the script vs. Falcons

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 7, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons.

First thoughts on Redskins vs. Falcons

—After facing three top punt returners in four weeks, the Redskins will dodge facing perhaps the best of all time. The Falcons’ Devin Hester, who has 14 punt return touchdowns in his career, has been placed on injured reserve with the designation to be able to return with a turf toe that has sidelined him for the first four games. That will put him on the shelf for at least eight weeks and, obviously, will keep him out of Sunday’s Redskins game.

—If there ever was a game where the Redskins need to stick to their script, it’s this one. Atlanta allows 4.4 yards per rushing attempt, 27th in the NFL. The Falcons are fifth in rushing yards allowed but nobody really has run on them. The Giants had 23 rushing attempts against them, the most they have faced all year. The 77 opponent rushing attempts against the Falcons are the fewest of any team that has played four games. With Alfred Morris and Matt Jones, Washington will provide a more severe test for Atlanta’s ability to stop the run. They will try to run as much clock as they can in order to keep the Falcons’ potent offense off of the field.

—There was plenty of chatter that the Redskins had their eyes on Julio Jones when they held the 10th pick in the 2011 draft. We’ll never know if the talk was serious because the Falcons moved up to draft him sixth overall. The Redskins may wish they had made the move when Sunday rolls around. He’s on pace for 152 receptions for 1,912 yards. If I’m Joe Barry I try to take him out of the game as much as possible and see if Matt Ryan can beat me throwing to an aging Roddy White, Jacob Tamme, and Leonard Hankerson.

—Many fans thought that the Redskins should have addressed the offensive line later in this year’s draft and gone for a pass rusher like Vic Beasley with the fifth overall pick last April. He ended up with the Falcons and he leads the team with two sacks. His play against the run is suspect and it’s easy to see the Redskins testing him early and often. Beasley will be lined up opposite Trent Williams, who outweighs the 235-lb. Beasley by about 80 pounds.

—I don’t see any particular advantage for either side with Kyle Shanahan running the offensive side of things for the Falcons. If Jim Haslett was still the Redskins’ defensive coordinator there might be cause for concern since Shanahan went up against him in every practice and every training camp session for four years. And perhaps if Robert Griffin III was behind center, Shanahan might be able to tip off Dan Quinn on some nuances of his game. Shanahan might have some insight into Kirk Cousins but not much. And I don’t buy that Shanahan will want to get revenge against the organization that fired him and his father at the end of the 2013 season. If he’s working any harder on this game than on the 15 others there is something wrong.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Falcons 4; Redskins @ Jets 11; Bucs @ Redskins 18

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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

As high hopes for the Redskins season seem to be slowly slipping away, the high hopes for wide receiver Terrell Pryor can now officially end.

Jay Gruden announced Monday that Pryor will undergo ankle surgery and be placed on the injured reserve. That means Pryor will not be eligible to play for at least eight games, and considering it’s already late November, that closes the book on Pryor’s 2017 season.

When Pryor signed with Washington this offseason, fans grew quite excited. The 6-foot-5, 240 lbs. wideout went for more than 1,000 receiving yards last year on a terrible Browns team, and most expected that production to increase playing with Kirk Cousins.

It never happened.

MORE: KIRK COUSINS ISN'T THRILLED WITH NFL'S APOLOGY FOR MISSED CALL

In nine games for Washington, Pryor grabbed only 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. What made matters worse for the former quarterback-turned-receiver, Pryor displayed subpar hands, and drops plagued him throughout the season. He was targeted 37 times, and barely caught more than 50 percent of those passes.

As things deteriorated for Pryor, he maintained a respectful professionalism. Eventually his ineffective play led him to the bench and reduced snaps, and in his final game of the season against the Vikings, Pryor did not even land a target.

Signed to a one-year deal, Pryor rolled the dice on a season in Washington to boost his free agent profile in 2018. It didn’t work, and now after surgery, it seems unlikely either the player or the organization would pursue a second contract.

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.

None. 

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LOSS TO SAINTS

Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"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.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.

RELATED: DEAR FANS, STOP WITH THE 'FIRE GRUDEN' TALK

"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

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