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Redskins-Bucs preview: Plenty of players with lots to prove

Redskins-Bucs preview: Plenty of players with lots to prove

What: Redskins vs. Buccaneers
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet, NBC 4Robert Griffin IIIand the Redskins other starters are not expected to touch the field once tonights preseason finale against the Buccaneers kicks off.But if you think that makes the game meaningless, just askDezmon Briscoehow hes approaching it. For players like him, the contest represents their best chance of snagging a job in the NFL this season. Play well, earn a job. Struggle, get cut Friday, when teams must pare rosters from 75 to the regular season maximum of 53.So dont tell Briscoe tonight doesnt mean anything.Keep reading for a little more on Briscoes tenuous grasp on one of the final wide receiver jobs and a few other positions the crew atwww.csnwashington.comwill be keeping tabs on.1) Against the Bears and Colts, Briscoe used his 6 foot 2, 210-pound frame and sure-handedness to haul in a combined five receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns and leave an impression on the coaches, as well.Against the Bucs, though, Briscoe must show he can excel on special teams, too. He said he expects to line up on kickoff, kick return, punt and punt rush teams. He started as the off-returner last season in Tampa Bay.A strong showing on teams could be the edge Briscoe needs to beat outAnthony Armstrong,Brandon BanksandTerrence AustinandAldrick Robinson. Those five are battling for what appears to be two final spots at wide receiver.Im looking forward to showing the coordinators what I can do, Briscoe said. Going into my third year, Ive realized that special teams is a huge, huge priority for people in the situation Im in. I have to go out there and prove that I can play special teams.2) It will be interesting to see how CoachMike Shanahanhandles his running backs. If rookie Alfred Morris watches from the sidelines with the other first team players, does that mean he's claimed the starter's job? Last week's107-yard performance against the Colts clinched his spot on the 53-man roster.But how much will Tim Hightower play? The veteran returned from a 10-month layoff due to a knee injury Saturday, but carried the ball only five times (for a total of 28 yards) and was sore Monday. What aboutEvan Royster? He was sidelined with a minor knee injury last Saturday but said this week he hopes to play.The status ofRoy Helu Jr.(two sore Achilles tendons) remains unclear.More and more, it appears Shanahan will keep four running backs. The question now is who starts and how playing time will be divided among the other three. We ought to have some answers later.3) The team jettisoned two cornerbacks on Monday, waivingMorgan Trent(injury settlement) and tradingKevin Barnesto the Lions for a conditional draft pick.That leaves the team with seven corner backs and as many as five spots to fill.DeAngelo Hall,Josh WilsonandCedric Griffinwill be three of them. But who are the others? Seventh-round draft pickRichard Crawfordhas enjoyed a strong camp. But what aboutBrandyn Thompson,David JonesandTravon Bellamy?Thompson, Jones and Bellamy have 60 minutes to make a strong closing argument for the final spot.4) The kicking competition betweenGraham GanoandNeil Rackersnever gained much traction this preseason. Now the job belongs toBilly Cundiff, who no doubt will seek to make a strong first impression.Cundiff, long snapperNick Sundberg, holderSav Roccaand the rest of the field goal unithave had exactly one practice to get on the same page. Will it be a seamless integration, or does the unit need a little polish?The bright side for us is after this game, weve got nine practice days until we play New Orleans, said Sundberg, who added that he worked with Cundiff previously in Baltimore.I know how he works, he knows how I work, so I think it will be a quicker transition than we originally thought.

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Need to Know: What will the Redskins do after Jonathan Allen's injury?

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Associated Press

Need to Know: What will the Redskins do after Jonathan Allen's injury?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 19, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night football.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences, open locker room, after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 10
—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 17
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 35

Jonathan Allen’s absence

The Redskins defensive line has been one of the most improved positions on the team. Now they have a large hole to fill in that unit.

Jonathan Allen’s Lisfranc injury will require surgery and that means he will be sidelined for the rest of the season. He likely will go on injured reserve sometime this week.

The team’s first-round draft pick had been playing very well. He has helped to provide the Redskins with pass rush up the middle, an important element that has been missing from the defense. The 17th overall pick had a sack, three QB hits and 10 hurries.

What will the Redskins do in Allen’s absence? The first thing they’ll do is take consolation in the fact that they still have Matt Ioannidis to give them some inside pass rush. The second-year player rebounded from a 2016 season where he played sparingly and is providing consistent pass rush pressure between the tackles. He has 3.5 sacks and 16 pressures.

But Ioannidis can’t do it alone. He and Allen each benefitted from the presence of the other one. And edge rushers Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan have both been helped by the attention the other teams had to pay to the pass pressure threat from the interior.

With Allen gone, who will take his place?

That question has a few different answers. When Allen goes on injured reserve, a lineman will be signed to take his place. That could be rookie Brandon Banks, who has been on the practice squad all year. They could bring up A.J. Francis, who has been around on the practice squad for a couple of years but he has not been with a team since he was release in Redskins’ cut to 53 on September 2.

They also could find a veteran who is not currently working or sign a player off of another team’s practice squad. The Redskins tried out 16 players on Tuesday and the only defensive lineman among them was Owa Odighizuwa, who played in 18 games for the Giants in 2015-2016.

But whoever takes the roster spot likely will be inactive most of the time. Anthony Lanier, the second-year defensive end who has been on the team this year but has not been active for a game, will be active on Monday night. He is a pass-rush specialist and it seems likely that he will get most of Allen’s snaps in nickel situations.

In base defense, Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain will rotate in more frequently. It’s not as though they have been sitting on the bench this season. While the rotation has favored Allen and Ioannidis, McClain and McGee have played 131 snaps this year. Ziggy Hood has 155, Ioannidis 170 and Allen 159.

McClain and McGee are OK defending the run so there won’t be a huge drop off there. The spotlight will be on Lanier, who played in just four games last year before an injury ended his season, to continue to get push up the middle with Ioannidis.

He will get his chance on Monday as the Redskins take on the Eagles. In the season opener, the Redskins were able to get pressure on quarterback Carson Wentz (22 pressures on 41 pass dropbacks) but they weren’t often able to bring him down. We will see if Lanier can get to him a time or two and finish the job.

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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Three plays that show why the Redskins' screen game is so effective

Three plays that show why the Redskins' screen game is so effective

By Ryan Wormeli

The Redskins eked out a close win at home on Sunday, coming away with a 26-24 final over the 49ers. One of the keys to the team's success on offense was their effective screen game. 

Doc Walker says running back Chris Thompson is the best in the NFL at catching screens and turning them into big plays. Still, he knows it takes more than just one great player to find success in the screen game.

On Redskins Gameplan, he turned to the film to break down three big plays from Sunday's victory, highlighting the offensive line in giving Thompson the room he needed to make something happen.

Play 1: Recievers getting in on the "Block Party"

Nearly half of the Redskins on the field for this play found themselves with someone to block. Walker points out how active the big guys are, shouting out Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao in particular. The receivers get some shine too, with Doc even pointing out, "You know you gotta give 11 some credit on that."

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Play 2: Trent Williams just keeps looking for guys to block

With the Redskins deep in their own territory, they once again call for a screen pass, and you know Doc gets really excited to see the big fellas move.

"Now watch the big uglies, downfield. Agile! Hostile! Getting after it! Staying on their feet, no belly floppers," exclaimed Walker. "That's the key to it."

Play 3: Brandon Scherff redeems himself later in the drive

Brandon Scherff started off this important drive with a holding penalty, costing his team valuable yards. He then saw the screen pass as an opportunity to make it up to his teammates, and he takes full advantage.

Doc has just one thing to say for players staring down an angry Brandon Scherff.

"You, my friend, are in trouble."

RELATED: WEEK 7 STATE OF THE 'SKINS

The Redskins probably hoped their game against the winless 49ers would be a bit more comfortable than a 26-24 victory. Still, when they found themselves in a dogfight, they were able to rely on their quality screen game to get them big yardage when needed, and it helped them come out with a big Week 6 win.

For more segments like this, tune in to Redskins Gameplan at 6 p.m. on Thursday.