Redskins

Cowboys' Jones: LB Sean Lee's injury 'a setback'

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Cowboys' Jones: LB Sean Lee's injury 'a setback'

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was optimistic enough after a loss in Baltimore to say his team could evolve into a Super Bowl contender ``not next year - this year.''

His tune and tone changed a bit when the Cowboys lost star linebacker Sean Lee to a season-ending toe injury this week. He all but declared the team's leading tackler irreplaceable.

``That's a setback,'' Jones said. ``The old adage that it gives someone else a chance to show what they've got doesn't necessarily apply here because he's a proven difference-maker out there.''

Jones said all this with the Cowboys facing one of their biggest games of the year on Sunday. The NFC East-leading Giants will be in town, boasting the NFL's second-rated offense and eager to avenge a season-opening loss to Dallas.

The Cowboys also have to play the second straight game without their best running back, DeMarco Murray. The team isn't saying when Murray will return from a foot injury sustained in the Baltimore game two weeks ago, although Jones said he didn't think it would be long-term.

``I've said all along I think this team has an opportunity to be a contender, but the one exception that I made was ... sitting as we're sitting right now health-wise, injury can make a difference and does in the NFL,'' said Jones, whose 90-year-old mother, Arminta Jones, died this week.

Lee sustained ligament damage in his right big toe in last weekend's 19-14 win at Carolina, and surgery is scheduled for next week. He said he will be sidelined three to four months but should be healthy by February - in time for offseason workouts.

Coach Jason Garrett and his teammates expect Lee to be an active participant in practice and on game day, and the third-year pro out of Penn State indicated as much Thursday.

``You have to be positive because if you're negative you're not going to get any better,'' said Lee, who missed a year in college with a knee injury and sat out part of last season with a dislocated wrist before finishing the season in a cast. ``As frustrating as it is, there's no getting around it.''

Bruce Carter will take over Lee's spot and the defensive play-calling for the Cowboys, while Dan Connor, Lee's close friend and former Penn State teammate, will slide into Carter's spot. Connor signed as a free agent after four years at Carolina.

``I think everybody is going to miss him,'' Carter said. ``He really took the job serious. That's something I've got to step up as a player for myself. I don't want to let those other guys down.''

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Offense

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 22, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Training camp preview: Offense

Here are some of the big topics surrounding the offense at Redskins training camp along with some of the things I’ll be observing closely when training camp gets underway on Thursday. 

Alex Smith

The subheadline here doesn’t need any elaboration. The Redskins gave up a top-100 draft pick, a promising player, and $71 million in guaranteed money to get him. When asked about the timetable for Smith picking up the offense, Jay Gruden said, “He has got to get it down by the first game.”

That first game is seven weeks from today. Of course, the process has already started as Smith appeared to have a solid grasp of things in the offseason practices. There is every reason to think that he will look good in Richmond. 

The question is, how much will the coaches push him? Will they focus on him having success on shorter, easier throws to build his confidence? Or will they call plays that test his ability to throw deep? Last year in Kansas City his ability to hit on long passes helped transform him from being an above-average quarterback to an MVP candidate. The Redskins need him to be effective deep starting Week 1 and training camp needs to be the starting point. 

The running back rotation

This is primarily about Derrius Guice, who is the most anticipated rookie running back in team history. The Redskins were 28th in rushing yards last year and they bring back the same offensive line (although hoping for better health) and three of the same running backs. They are counting on Guice to be the difference maker. 

But Guice can’t do it by himself. Gruden will be wary of overworking his rookie, who has an aggressive running style and who was banged up for a lot of his last year at LSU. He also may give Guice a light load if he struggles in pass protection early on. Chris Thompson’s role is set. Where do Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine line up? Does one or the other take most of the first-team reps when Guice is getting a rest? 

The difference between being the third back and the fourth is big. The fourth back on the depth chart is unlikely to be active most game days. The active back could get five to 10 carries per game.

Who’s at left guard?

Is Shawn Lauvao going to be the left guard? It doesn’t seem logical that they would put all their eggs in Lauvao’s injury-prone and frequently ineffective basket. Will Ty Nsekhe line up there? Do they think that Tyler Catalina or Kyle Kalis can push for the starting job? Is a trade in the offing? 

Jordan Reed’s health

This does not need much explanation if you’ve been paying attention the last several years. It would be both a good sign and a major surprise if he starts camp healthy and doesn’t miss any time due to injuries. If he’s out there, there is no question that he and Smith will quickly develop chemistry. 

Wide receiver depth chart

The stakes at wide receiver are similar to those at running back. The top backup behind the three starters, who could be any of Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Brian Quick or Try Quinn, will have a regular role in the offense line Ryan Grant had last year. The fifth guy will rarely play, the player who has the sixth spot will rarely play, and the seventh won’t have a 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 and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Apparently, some teams are worried that their players are playing too much of the video game Fortnite. No, seriously.

Timeline 

Happy birthday to Redskins running back Quinton Dunbar, who was born on this date in 1992.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 4
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 18
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 41

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 49 days. 

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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