As I wrote yesterday, my first step in pre-training camp prep for the upcoming season was to study the Las Vegas odds.Step No. 2? Plunk down 50 at the local bookstore for a stack of preview magazines so you dont have to, assuming, of course, youre only interested in the CliffsNotes version.Heres a brief on the four previews I picked up:Athlon SportsRedskins predicted finish in NFC East: Last.Money quote: The Redskins return everyone in the defensive front seven, which was their biggest strength in 2011. also upgraded a punchless receiving corps. Considering that they lost six games by only one possession last season, dont be surprised if the Redskins compete for a playoff spot.Intriguing nugget: Robert Griffin III was tapped best rookie QB over Indys Andrew Luck and is predicted to be the NFCs offensive rookie of the year. Griffin will have more talent around him than him, the magazine says, Thus, Griffin should have more success this season than Luck. But, it continues, RG3 better bring his Superman socks to D.C.Lundys Predicted finish: Last.Money quote: Thanks to tackling machine London Fletcher and new comers Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen and Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins were much improved in 2011. Rookie running backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster showed promise. But after three straight-double digit losing seasons and four consecutive last-place finishes, hopes for a turnaround in Washington are in Griffins hands.Intriguing nugget: On Coach Mike Shanahans future: Turning the offense over to Griffin should buy Shanahan the fourth year on his contract. However, the 60-year-old Shanahan knows this is the last season hes playing with house money.Pro Football WeeklyPredicted finish: Last.Money quote: Robert Griffin III could be this years Cam Newton or Andy Dalton, and the Redskins weapons appear to be stronger. It could come down to the play of two key units the offensive line and secondary to determine whether this is a comeback season or another hear at the bottom of the still-loaded NFC East.Intriguing nugget: No position earned a grade higher than a B, which went to the defensive line and linebackers. Running backs received the lowest grade, a C-.Phil Steeles Pro FootballPredicted finish: Last.Money quote: Factors pointing upward this year are that they were -14 in turnovers last year, had two net close losses, were only -3.1 yards per game (like an 8-8 team) and had 65 starts lost to injury. On the negative side of the ledger us that the schedule gets a lot tougher this year (18 to 3) and they play in the same division with a pair of Top 5 NFL teams (NYG & PHI)Intriguing nugget: In Shanahans 32 games as the WAS HC, his QBs ran the ball 61 times total! The team wants Griffin to improvise on third down but also stay in the pocket as much as possible.As you can see, there are two common themes in each of the four previews: the Skins are expected to be division basement dwellers once again, but theres also optimism that RG3s arrival could signal the start of a turnaround.
Did you guys know C.J. Beathard is related to former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard?
Of course you do, because that storyline, as well as others like the Vernon Davis fumble(?) and Pierre Garçon penalty have been talked about plenty following the Redskins' 26-24 W over the 49ers on Sunday.
But there are other angles that have been under analyzed from the Week 6 matchup. So as fun as it is to celebrate Chris Thompson's brilliance, put that on hold for a minute and think about these five discussion points.
1) A big recovery by a big man
One of the most underappreciated plays in football is a fumble recovery by an offensive player. Most of the time, players and fans are just mad that the offense fumbled and ignore the fact that the outcome could've been a whole lot worse.
Do you remember Trent Williams falling on a Chris Thompson fumble early on the Redskins' first drive? Maybe some of you do, but plenty of others probably don't. But because Williams was aware and smothered the ball before a Niner defender could, the Redskins were able to continue their possession and eventually finish it with a touchdown.
2) Kirk's questionable decision
Kirk Cousins provided what proved to be the game's deciding points with his fourth quarter read option touchdown. But it was an earlier run that could've been much more important, and not for the right reason.
On Washington's previous possession — which concluded with a 21-yard field goal — Cousins scrambled for an 18-yard gain, but instead of sliding at the end, he decided to take on San Fran safety Jimmie Ward. The two collided and thumped each other pretty hard, and while the QB may have earned some respect, he also said postgame that Williams immediately reminded him that he should've slid instead.
Was it entertaining to watch a signal caller try and run over a safety? Sure. But was it smart? Not at all. The Packers saw their star quarterback come out on the wrong end of a punishing hit Sunday, and the Redskins just as easily could be feeling their pain.
3) Samaje's second effort
Samaje Perine has a long way to go before he becomes the player many hoped he'd be when the Redskins snagged him in April's draft. But it was him traveling a short distance in the fourth quarter against the 49ers that was a crucial yet overlooked play.
Six snaps before Cousins' rushing TD, the rookie barely converted on a third-and-2 by pushing the pile and refusing to be brought down short of the sticks. Again, his first year as a pro hasn't been excellent, but that was one he deserves credit for.
4) A way too powerful punt
The Redskins' execution after recovering that late onsides kick wasn't just bad on offense. Tress Way's touchback was unsightly, too.
Even after Washington took a delay of game penatly to give their punter more room, Way booted his kick well into the end zone instead of forcing the Niners' returner to fair catch or giving his gunners a chance to down it. Next time, Way needs to use a little less club and force the opposing offense to start farther back than their own 25.
5) Dunbar delivers
Perhaps because of all the injuries in the secondary, as well as an abundance of other things to chat about, a really strong performance from Quinton Dunbar isn't getting the necessary recognition.
The visitors threw at Josh Norman's replacement often — 14 instances, to be specific — but he more than held his own, ending the contest as PFF's highest-graded 'Skin. Jay Gruden said earlier in the week Dunbar thinks he can cover "anybody, anywhere, anytime," and for the most part on Sunday, No. 47 did just that.
The Redskins got some bad news on the injury front on Monday. But there certainly was some good news.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland took what appeared to be a nasty hit to his left knee in the third quarter against the 49ers. He was down on the turf in pain for a couple of minutes before leaving the game. After the game, Jay Gruden said that the initial examination was that it was an MCL injury and that an MRI would be performed.
The MRI results are back and the injury is not as serious as it first appeared. Gruden said it was a sprain and that it was possible that he would be ready to play against the Eagles on Monday night thanks to his properties that resemble those of a certain animated character.
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“I think Breeland's always been a fast healer,” said Gruden. “He's like Gumby. He took a pretty big shot on that play and I thought he was going to be out for a little bit of time. He recovers quickly.”
However, not all of the non-Jonathan Allen news was good. Kicker Dustin Hopkins has a right hip rotator muscle sprain. Gruden said that he is “week-to-week.” Going by Gruden’s past use of that phrase Hopkins will miss at least one game. Gruden said that the team would bring in kickers to try out. One will have to be signed if Hopkins can’t play.
Other injury-related news and notes:
—Gruden said that RB Rob Kelley and S Deshazor Everett will resume practice this week. Both players missed the 49ers game. Kelley has been rehabbing an ankle injury and Everett had a hamstring strain.
—Backup S Stefan McClure has a hyperextended knee and is week-to-week. This makes Everett's return very important.
—Veteran DB DeAngelo Hall is eligible to return to practice this week after spending the first six weeks on the season on the PUP list. Gruden said he might start practicing this week or next. “We want to make sure when he starts practice he's ready to start practice. We don't want to have him start out practice at 80 percent,” he said. “When he starts practice, we want him to be at 100 percent.”
—The door is not closed on CB Josh Norman being able to play on Monday night in Philadelphia. “I think there's a chance, but we'll see,” said Gruden. “That's up to the doctors and Josh and see how he's feeling. We don't want this thing to get reinjured obviously, but if he can go, I'm sure Josh will go.”
—Reserve OT Ty Nseke is still recovering from a core muscle injury and it seems unlikely that he will be able to suit up this week.