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Rackers attracted to playing in NFC East

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Rackers attracted to playing in NFC East

While training camp battles in the secondary and among a trio of running backs figure to receive much of the spotlight in the coming weeks, theres another competition that promises plenty of intrigue: kicker.The Redskins signed veteran Neil Rackers in April to compete with incumbent Graham Gano, who was 29th in the NFL in accuracy last season (75.6 percent), a year after ranking 30th (68.6 percent).On Friday, Coach Mike Shanahan said the job is up for grabs.Right from the start, both kickers know they have an opportunity to make this football team, Shanahan said. This is the way its supposed to be.Ganos unimpressive numbers in 2011 were no doubt affected by the five attempts that were blocked. Although it could be argued the breakdowns were caused by blocking breakdowns, not the kicker, Shanahan apparently was concerned enough to bring in Rackers, who was not re-signed by the Texans after making 32 of 38 attempts (84.2-percent) last season.Rackers, 35, said a miscommunication between his former agent and the Texans during contract negotiations contributed to a departure he described as unexpected.They threw out a number evidently and my agent threw out an astronomical number so they just decided, Hey, were going to go in another direction, he said. Thats business.Gano is 10 years younger than Rackers and boasts a more powerful leg. But hes connected on 73.8 percent of his attempts in three seasons with the Redskins, while Rackers has made 80-percent of his kicks in a 12 season career thats made stops in Cincinnati, Arizona and Houston. Three times, in fact, Rackers has made 90 percent or more of his kicks, including the 2005 season in Arizona, where he made 40 of 42 attempts.I liked what they had to say, Rackers said of his discussions with the Redskins prior to signing a one-year deal. I like the idea of NFC East football. Its real football. I think its a team thats got an opportunity to do some special things.Ive been on two teams that no one assumed would do anything the Texas and Cardinals, the St. Louis native added. The Texans went to the playoffs for the first time and the Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl. I see a lot of similarities between the Redskins and those teams.

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Per report, league admits to getting Kirk Cousins' intentional grounding call wrong

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USA TODAY Sports

Per report, league admits to getting Kirk Cousins' intentional grounding call wrong

NEW ORLEANS—The Redskins apparently were on the wrong end of a bad call late in their game against the Saints on Sunday and, according to a report, the league admitted it.

Per Mike Jones of USA Today, a league official told Redskins president Bruce Allen that intentional grounding should not have been called against Kirk Cousins with the game tied with 28 seconds left in regulation on Sunday.

The rule is clear. From the NFL rule book:

It is a foul for intentional grounding if a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion.

There wasn’t a Saints defender within a few yards of Cousins when he threw the ball. The pass was not to prevent a sack, it was a mixup with receiver Jamison Crowder.

MORE REDSKINS: A BRUTAL FINAL SIX MINUTES

But the men in stripes conferred and dropped a flag. The penalty was 10 yards, a loss of down, and a 10-second clock runoff. So instead of second and 10 at the 34 with time to run a few more plays, it was second and 20 at the 44 with time running out. The Redskins have every right to believe that they were robbed.

However, they also robbed themselves. The litany of self-inflicted problems is there for anyone who watched the game to see. From not being able to get a touchdown on the board early after D.J. Swearinger’s interception in Saints territory, to committing a false start lining up for a field goal try near the end of the first half, to the inability to get a yard on third and one and to the helplessness of the defense against Drew Brees in the final six minutes of regulation. The mistake by referee Walt Coleman’s crew was glaring but it was far from the only entry on the list of reasons the Redskins lost.

RELATED: TANDLER'S FIVE TAKEAWAYS

The thing is, it shouldn’t have been on the list at all. At least one official on the field is always able to communicate with the suits at 345 Park Avenue. They handle the replays from the league office and we get all kinds of strange interpretations of what a catch is or isn’t. Why can’t someone in New York get in the ear of someone in stripes on the field and say, “Hey, don’t drop that flag, he wasn’t under pressure?”

The technology to prevent a misinterpretation of the rules by the officials on the field is in place right now. It could be done with minimal disruption to the game. It’s a crime that the league won’t use it.

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.

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Need to Know: Five Key plays in Redskins vs. Saints

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Five Key plays in Redskins vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 20, three days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden press conference 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 10
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 20
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 27

Five key plays in Redskins vs Saints

D.J. Swearinger interception in the first quarter—Although the Redskins didn’t fully capitalize on the takeaway in Saints territory—they got a field goal—the play helped the Redskins jump on top in what would be a back-and-forth first half. Swearinger has three interceptions in the last two games.

Fourth and six pass to Vernon Davis for 26 yards—This was the first of two fourth-down gambles Gruden took. This one was from the New Orleans 39. This one paid off in spades as Kirk Cousins found Davis for a first down at the Saints 13. Three plays later Samaje Perine got in from a yard out. That made it 17-10 and the Redskins would not trail again until, well, you know.

False start when lined up for field goal—Things were going great for the Redskins as they had a nice drive going at the end of the half. The advance stalled and they lined up for a 51-yard field goal try. But there was a false start on the play and the Redskins had to punt. Josh Holsey almost downed it inside the one but he shuffled his feet one too many times and he fielded the ball with his heels on the goal line stripe, resulting in a touchback. That gave the Saints the field position they needed to drive for a field goal as time ran out.  

Fourth and one fake punt—The Redskins had just seen Chris Thompson get carted off the field after suffering a broken fibula in his right leg. It was fourth and one at the Washington 15 and they lined up in punt formation. Niles Paul took the direct snap and powered up the middle for five yards. Apparently inspired by the big, uh, courage shown by Jay Gruden on that, the Redskins continued the drive and got into the end zone on a 40-yard pass from Cousins to Ryan Grant. That put the Redskins up 24-13 with 1:44 left in the third.

Third and one Perine for minus-1—I don’t think I need go into much detail here, you know what happened.

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.

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