Redskins

Bailey: Broncos have closed gap with Pats

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Bailey: Broncos have closed gap with Pats

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) After giving up 86 points to the Patriots last year, the Denver Broncos realized just how far away they were from becoming a championship contender.

Following the Broncos' 45-10 loss at New England in the playoffs, coach John Fox pledged, ``We will do everything we can to get better.''

And they did.

They swapped Tim Tebow for Peyton Manning, retooled the offense and fortified their defense. They'll get to gauge just how much they've narrowed that gap Sunday when they visit Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Champ Bailey insists the gulf hasn't just been narrowed but closed entirely, suggesting the Broncos ``know we can win'' this time, something he's not so sure they believed nine months ago.

``I didn't feel like there were 53 guys that thought we could win,'' Bailey said. ``And it showed.''

He wouldn't name names, instead saying the Broncos (2-2) are simply better equipped and better prepared to keep up with the Patriots (2-2) this time around.

``Couple of different players here and there. Different coordinator. Different mentality,'' Bailey said. ``But I think last year, it was pretty obvious we didn't put our best effort in that last game. It was real disappointing to get that far and not put forth 100 percent. But it is what it is, it's in the past, and this is a different year, different breed of guys going in there.''

With right guard Chris Kuper ready to return from a broken left forearm, middle linebacker Joe Mays back from a one-game suspension for an illegal hit, and second-year tight end Virgil Green's month-long suspension for violating the league's banned-substances policy over, the Broncos are as invigorated as they've been all season.

They had perfect attendance at practice this week for the first time.

And they have a healthy confidence, too, insisting they can keep up with the high-powered Patriots after losing to them 41-23 on Dec. 18, ending a six-game winning streak, and by five touchdowns in the divisional playoffs in January.

``I think we have better personnel and we have a better scheme,'' Mays said. ``We just have to go out there and execute.''

That's something they didn't do well last year, when Denver's offense had eight three-and-outs, four four-and-outs and lost a fumble on the first play of another drive in two blowout losses to New England.

Now, they have Manning running the show.

``Oh, we can put up points,'' running back Willis McGahee boasted. ``There's no doubt about it.''

Asked about the firepower the Broncos bring to Foxborough this time around, McGahee borrowed a phrase from the New York Jets' loquacious linebacker Bart Scott that punctuated a postgame rant following a playoff victory over New England a couple of years ago.

``I like the firepower regardless of this year or last year, but yep, this year is a little bit better,'' McGahee said. ``Looking forward to it. Can't wait. In Bart Scott words, `Can't wait!' ``

With Tebow, the Broncos ran the read-option that proved no match for Brady's precision passing game.

``I think like last year we went into the game, run first, worry about the pass later,'' McGahee said. ``This year we can do both. So, the sky's the limit. It's not like we're going to be cornered in one position, just run the ball, run the ball, you know? We're going to be able to get some passes off, we're going to be able to get some runs off.''

Manning's arrival alone made both the Broncos' offense and defense better. With his ability to produce long drives, Denver's defense hasn't been as gassed as it was with the offense going three-and-out so often like it did under Tebow.

That could make a big difference Sunday.

``Ah, it's going to be great,'' Mays said. ``What our offense brings is going to be great to keep us off the field a little bit, because while we're out there, it's going to be hard work. We're going against one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and it's going to be a tough one for us. I'm looking forward to going out there and having a much better outcome than we did two times last year.''

Notes: Broncos FB Chris Gronkowski had no advice this week for his teammates who will be facing his brother, Patriots All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski: ``They've seen the film. They played him last year, so they should have a good idea. I don't have to go against him, so I don't really know.''

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Offense

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Various sources

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 18, 38 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—offense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on offense; defense up tomorrow. 

Quarterbacks (2)
Alex Smith, Colt McCoy

I think that Kevin Hogan is very much on the bubble as the third quarterback. They got along with two QBs last year, and with Alex Smith having demonstrated great durability during his career, Hogan may well get bumped off. 

Running backs (4)
Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley

I’d say that this is 95 percent locked in. Maybe Kapri Bibbs or Byron Marshall can make a push for Kelley’s roster spot but his history with Jay Gruden will make it very hard for him to get knocked out. 

Wide receivers (6)
Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Trey Quinn

The first time I did this back in April I didn’t have Quinn on the roster. That was before he was a man among boys at rookie camp and a player who looks like he belongs when the veterans showed up. I don’t know if he’ll have the impact that many fans think he will, but he’s certainly going to get his chance. Brian Quick could steal a roster spot from Harris or Davis.

Tight ends (3)
Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle

The Redskins did not draft a tight end or sign one in free agency so there seems to be faith that Reed will be healthy. We’ve heard that before and it seems somewhat risky to leave Davis, who has Father Time nipping at his heels, and the inexperienced Davis as the only two backups. They may try to make room for an undrafted rookie like Hudson Garrett.  

Offensive line (9)
Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Geron Christian, Tyler Catalina, Tony Bergstrom

I think that Gruden is probably happy with the starters here but the depth is shaky, especially in the interior. The key could be whether Christian is ready for prime time as the swing tackle. That could allow Nsekhe to fill in at guard. Bergstrom is fine as the backup center, although I wouldn’t want to have to count on him for more than a few games. 

Offensive players: 24
Rookies (3):
Guice, Christian, Quinn
New to the organization in 2018 (5): Rookies plus Smith, Richardson 
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (11): Rookies plus new plus Harris (practice squad), R. Davis (practice squad) and Bergstrom (not on the team). 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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An Indiana state police officer tweeted that he pulled a driver over for going too slowly in the left lane. I believe this person is a national hero. 

Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 38
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 52
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 75

The Redskins last played a game 167 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 83 days. 

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

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USA TODAY Sports/@TerrellePryor

Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

Terrelle Pryor made a number of highlight reel catches last year during training camp, and it appears the Redskins defense didn't like it. 

Washington's marquee free agent signing last season, Pryor came into Richmond with sky-high expectations. Throughout the training sessions last August, Pryor put on one-handed displays at the Jugs machine and often made big catches in team drills. It's also important to remember there was never any live tackling during these drills, leaving defenders at a distinct disadvantage. 

Zach Brown remembers the scene quite well, and thinks it will look very different this summer when Pryor comes to Richmond as a member of the New York Jets. 

"That’s going to be something right there. The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now," Brown said on Inside the Locker Room on the Team 980 (full audio here).

Brown explained that Redskins coach Jay Gruden would not allow the defense to hit Pryor last year, even when the wideout did some showboating. 

"Jay ain't here to protect you anymore," Brown said.

The Redskins linebacker explained that he tried to explain to Pryor that the one-handed catches from training camp would not translate in the NFC East, where players get hit hard. It doesn't seem like Pryor listened, as he finished the season with only 240 receiving yards on 20 catches in nine games. 

"The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year," Brown said. He added, "Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm."

One incident that supports Brown's comments came when Bashaud Breeland got thrown off the practice field last training camp. Breeland got mad that he wasn't allowed to get physical with Pryor at the line of scrimmage, and the scene blew up. Breeland eventually got sent off the field after arguing with coaches. 

The Jets visit the Redskins for three days of practices beginning August 12th. The two teams then square off in the second preseason game on August 16th. 

Brown will get his chance at Pryor, assuming the wideout plays. Pryor finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve, but is expected to be fine once training camp begins in New York. 

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