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Sluggish offense or strong defense? Notes from final Redskins minicamp practice

Sluggish offense or strong defense? Notes from final Redskins minicamp practice

The Redskins hit the fields for the final minicamp practice on Wednesday and the defense clearly outplayed the offense. In a way, it's a bit more fun when the defense is outplaying the offense in practice. Defensive players tend to hoot and holler a bit more, especially as the team makes big plays and turnovers. 

That happened plenty Wednesday, with Kirk Cousins clearly forcing some deep throws and throwing two interceptions on top of a few others that could have been picked off. The best line overheard as minicamp concluded though belonged to D.J. Swearinger.

As the offense worked near the goal line, Cousins called his own number on a zone read carry. Remember, there is no hitting in minicamp, but had their been, Swearinger would have been in position for a downhill collision. 

Other news and notes: 

  • Early in practice, Ryan Kerrigan quickly got around the corner on Morgan Moses. Remember, no pads, so don't take too much from it. That said, it does seem like the Redskins outside linebacker group could be a force. Last year the team put up Top 10 NFL sack totals and that could improve this fall.
  • DeAngelo Hall might play safety now, but watch him on the sideline, and it's clear he still thinks like a cornerback. Throughout the minicamp session, Hall talks with the corners and offers advice. After the practice session, Hall explained that he likes talking with the corners, especially Quinton Dunbar and Bashaud Breeland. Hall explained Dunbar has all the tools but is still learning to switch after playing wideout in college. On Breeland, Hall said that the fourth-year CB out of Clemson can be one of the best when he's focused, but when he's not, "he is just a guy." Sounds like a future coach.
  • Jordan Reed has been great. Vernon Davis has looked good. But damn if Niles Paul isn't impressing when he gets opportunities. Had another TD catch on Wednesday on a nice seam route where it looked like he got popped as he hit the end zone. Assuming the Redskins want to keep Jeremy Sprinkle, who hasn't impressed but is a raw rookie, Jay Gruden will have a very tough decision with his roster. Four tight ends seems like a possibility. Gruden on Paul: "He’s the hardest working guy here and he’s performed very well. He does some tight end, he does some fullback, he can split outside, very versatile. He’s also a key member of our special teams. He’s done excellent." And Cousins on Paul: "I thought he was very productive this spring. He probably did even more than I thought he would."
  • Nico Marley running the huddle with the second-team defense? Nico Marley running the huddle with the second-team defense. The kid is charismatic and super quick sideline to sideline. Special teams is his only chance for a roster spot with the lack of size, but guys must like him. 
  • Josh Norman is confident the 2017 Redskins defense will be better than the 2016 Redskins defense. I agree. The cornerback continues to work on his off-man coverage, and on Tuesday had perhaps the most impressive defensive play of minicamp when he was able to highpoint a ball on Terrelle Pryor and break up a long pass on the sideline. 
  • When the Redskins signed 6-foot-5 Pryor, many thought he would instantly help the team in the red zone. That was on display Wednesday, when Cousins found Pryor on a simple slant from about the 5-yard-line that went for a TD. The play seemed effortless, and it was clearly the highlight of the day for the QB/WR duo. In fact, Cousins and Pryor seemed a bit out of sync much of the two-day minicamp, but remember, it's June. Don't be alarmed.  
  • Redskins WR coach Ike Hilliard talked about one big difference from 2016 to 2017 - and I'm paraphrasing - We had a bunch of little guys. Now we have big guys. 

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

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USA TODAY Sports

2017 NFL Power Rankings: Both conferences are wide open through six weeks

Through six weeks of the NFL season, it's clear who the Super Bowl favorites are.

In the AFC, it's, um, well, OK, let's do the NFC first. In the NFC, you have to watch out for — actually, nevermind, this isn't that easy.

CLICK HERE FOR NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

The Chiefs and Eagles are the only two teams standing at 5-1, but there are quite a few 4-2 squads right behind them, as well as talented 3-win teams who can take any opponent down if they bring their best stuff. That means that as the halfway point approaches, both conferences are still open races.

And those races got a lot more interesting after a fun Week 6. The power rankings look a lot different than they did before the weekend because of Week 6's results, too.

So, click the link above or below to see who's moving up and who's sliding back. Or, in the case of the Browns, who's sliding but staying in the same spot simply because they can't be dropped any further.

CLICK HERE FOR NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S UPDATED NFL POWER RANKINGS

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

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Five things that aren't being talked about enough from the Redskins-49ers game

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.

MORE: WHERE JONATHAN ALLEN WILL BE MISSED MOST

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 20.

RELATED: WHY CAN'T THE REDSKINS HOLD ON TO LEADS?

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.