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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins keep three quarterbacks?

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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins keep three quarterbacks?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 6, six days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day, no availability

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 240 days ago. It will be six days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 12; Browns @ Redskins 26; Redskins @ Ravens 33

Read and react: Jay Gruden

Here are some quotes from Jay Gruden’s news conference on Monday and my reaction to them.

On keeping three quarterbacks:
“I think that was pretty much the plan. You want to have three. Some teams go with two and a practice squad guy. We thought that Nate [Sudfeld] showed enough in the preseason where somebody might give him a chance.”
I go back and forth on this on the wisdom of using a roster spot for your third, developmental QB. But I think the bottom line is that if you want to keep him don’t risk losing him and the 53rd spot on a roster when you can only activate 46 on game days is an acceptable cost for doing so. We saw the value of a quarterback when the Vikings gave up a first and a fourth for career mediocrity Sam Bradford. It’s supply and demand and if you have a guy you think can be a competent QB in a year or two you should hold on to him.

On keeping 11 defensive backs and how that fits into the game day active 46
“That’s what it will come down to – special teams will be huge. We’ll sit down and talk about it. Starting Wednesday we’ll probably start to try to figure out what we’re going to do as far as that 46-man is concerned.”
Gruden and company might wait until Wednesday to ponder the inactives but I won’t. Here is my early call of the seven who will sit: QB Nate Sudfeld, G Arie Kouandjio, C Austin Reiter, WR Josh Doctson, CB Quinton Dunbar, S Will Blackmon, and LB Terence Garvin. The first three are obvious, and I don’t think that Doctson will quite be ready to play. On defense, Garvin is good on special teams but I’m not sure if he can play Mike LB if Will Compton gets hurt. Assuming Deshazor Everett is up for special teams, I think that right now Dunbar and Blackmon are the DBs on the bottom of the depth chart. If they want another DB against Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown they could sit DL Anthony Lanier and activate Dunbar.

On keeping undrafted DL Lanier over 5th-round pick Matt Ioannidis:
“It was very close. They’re different players. Lanier really showed throughout training camp and throughout the preseason games… he’s six-foot six, he’s very young, very raw. We didn’t want to risk losing a big defensive lineman that has some pass rush ability.”
Really, it comes down to pass rush ability. Pass rushers are not unlike quarterbacks in that if you have on you keep him. It had to be disappointing to have to cut their fifth-round pick and the only D-lineman they have drafted in the last two years. But they hope he will learn on the practice squad and contribute either later this year or in 2017.

On Rashad Ross’ progress:
“As a receiver, he has done good. He was a one-trick pony early on in his career. He played one position; now he’s kind of moved over and flipped on the other side. The versatility is getting a lot better, his knowledge of the offense is getting a lot better but the one thing he has that you can’t coach is his speed. He can still run very, very fast.”
The ability to play quarterback, the ability to rush the passer, and speed will all keep some players on NFL rosters longer than others. You can coach the first two to an extent but not speed. Ross got a degree of patience that other receivers might not have due to his ability to get from Point A to Point B faster than most humans can.

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

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. 

RELATED: REDSKINS-CARDINALS PREVIEW

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

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

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. 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.

Want more? Listen up!

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