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Need to Know: Redskins' Smith enjoys his pro debut

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Need to Know: Redskins' Smith enjoys his pro debut

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 16, four days before Washington Redskins play the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field.

Smith enjoys his pro debut

RICHMOND—The Redskins drafted Preston Smith in the second round, hoping that the Mississippi State product would battle Trent Murphy for the starting job at right outside linebacker. Perhaps Smith would come off of the bench but he was expected to be a major part of the team’s pass rush.

But then the team signed Junior Galette, who had 22 sacks the last two years playing for the Saints. With Smith having some rookie struggles in practice, his role on the team was quite up in the air.

That was before the Redskins’ preseason opener against the Browns last Thursday. Smith started the game in place of the resting Ryan Kerrigan. The rookie recorded a team-high six tackles and a sack.

“It felt great out there to get our feet wet, to finally get a first sack in an NFL game especially in a preseason game, my first NFL game,” he said after the game. “It was a great feeling to go out there and finally string some pass-rush together and get a sack and get home to the quarterback.”

It should be noted that Smith’s sack came late in the third quarter against Browns players who are vying for practice squad jobs. Still, the fact it gives him a confidence boost is a positive.

As noted, the depth chart at outside linebacker is crowded with Kerrigan, who just signed a big contract extension, Galette, and Murphy and Smith, the team’s last two second-round draft picks. Kerrigan is going to play nearly every snap so the other three will have to find a way to get on the field.

Smith really doesn’t have much to worry about if he can get the job done. If he can rush the passer against front-line blockers they will find a way to get him on the field in passing situations. It’s possible that all four of the outside backers will be on for some nickel plays, perhaps with Murphy lining up on the inside and Smith on the line in a three-point stance.

The Redskins had 36 sacks last year, tied for 21st in the NFL. Over a quarter of those sacks, 10, came in one game against the Jaguars. They are looking to get to the quarterback more consistently this year. It will be up to new defensive coordinator Joe Barry to utilize the talent on the roster to make that happen and Smith could be a big part of it.

Timeline

—Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was born on this date in 1988.

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:35 a.m.; Practice 3:05 p.m.

—It’s been 231 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 28 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Lions @ Redskins 4; final cuts 20; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 39

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

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.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

The Week 12 fantasy football rankings are out -- but when it comes to Thanksgiving Day, everyone wants some player regardless of where they slot overall. Don't overthink it and take a lesser player, but for those on the fence or simply looking for Thursday action, here are some recommendations for all three games.

Vikings @ Lions

Obvious: Vikings -- Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs... running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are in the RB2/Flex discussion for most, but good luck picking between them; Lions -- Wide receiver Golden Tate and ... wide receiver Marvin Jones works in three-WR formats while quarterback Matthew Stafford is No. 14 among passers this week.

Start: Case Keenum averaged 19.3 points over the last four games while the Lions have allowed ample points to fantasy quarterbacks in that stretch, though only three touchdown passes. Having Thielen and Diggs up the potential for Keenum, who is QB17 in the Week 12 rankings. That's comparable with Matthew Stafford (QB14), Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett and ahead of Derek Carr.

Add: Not sure there's any fringe skill player worth taking a flyer on so take a look at Vikings kicker Kai Forbath. He's attempted at least three field goals in four of his last five games and he kicked five extra points in the lone exception. ... Some will start Ameer Abdullah based on their options, but just know the Vikings allow the second fewest points to fantasy tight ends this season.

Chargers @ Cowboys

Obvious: Chargers -- running back Melvin Gordon and wide receiver Keenan Allen; Cowboys -- Wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back Alfred Morris and... quarterback Dak Prescott, though his production is down without running back Ezekiel Elliott and left tackle Tyron Smith.

Start: This hasn't been a vintage Philip Rivers season, but he's coming off his best performance (251 yards, two touchdown passes) since Week 5. The Cowboys aren't that special in the secondary and have surrendered two touchdown passes in three consecutive games. At QB13, he's on the cusp of QB1 status in 12-team leagues. 

Add: Kickers Nick Novak (Chargers) and Mike Nugent (Cowboys) are 15th and 16th respectively. So, there's that. 

Giants @ Redskins

The obvious: Giants -- tight end Evan Engram and... running back Orleans Darkwa is a viable RB2 option against a Redskins defense giving up gobs of yards on the ground; Redskins -- quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight Vernon Davis and...running back Samaje Perine is RB12 this week, though listed as questionable on the injury report with a finger issue.

Start: Jordan Reed is out for a fourth consecutive game, meaning Vernon Davis once again is Washington's main tight end. While he hasn't provided wow performances like Reed at his Pro Bowl best, Davis has been good for a solid 8-11 since taking on a larger role starting in Week 3. This could be his best statistical week of the season. The Giants allow the most points to fantasy tight ends on the season. Opposing tight ends scored a touchdown in each of the first 10 games before the streak snapped Sunday.

RELATED: NEW AND IMPROVED WEEK 12 FANTASY RANKINGS

Add: Josh Doctson is only owned in 55 percent of leagues on CBS even though he's moved into the role of Washington's top outside receiver. The second-year player had four receptions for 81 yards in Sunday's overtime loss, though all the production came in the first half. Consistency is the next step, but Kirk Cousins is showing more and more confidence in the 6'3" target especially on 50-50 balls. Doctson is WR36 in my Week 12 rankings, meaning he's worth starting consideration in three-WR formats regardless.