Redskins

Green Bay's new and improved OL gets biggest test

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Green Bay's new and improved OL gets biggest test

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Milk bottles in carnival games are meant to be knocked down.

MVP quarterbacks are not.

Green Bay's offensive line has had its hands full this season as it has tried, often unsuccessfully, to keep Aaron Rodgers from looking like a tackling dummy, and it doesn't figure to get any easier in Saturday night's NFC divisional game in San Francisco.

The 49ers' front seven is one of the most brutish in the NFL, and just the sight of Aldon Smith or Justin Smith is enough to make a quarterback wince.

``It's going to be key for us to play our best here to date,'' Packers left guard T.J. Lang said. ``We understand that it's going to be up to us to keep Aaron clean, let him make some plays back there in the pocket. That's going to be a huge factor in how this game turns out.''

Rodgers is the Packers' most precious commodity, the reigning league MVP and one of the finest quarterbacks of his generation. The Packers (12-5) will only go as far as he takes them, so keeping him upright is a priority. Yet Rodgers was sacked an NFL-high 51 times during the regular season.

That's almost twice as many sacks as New England's Tom Brady took (27), and 30 more than Denver's Peyton Manning.

But that number, ugly as it may be, doesn't quite tell the whole story.

``Is it something that they're proud of? No. Of course not,'' offensive line coach James Campen said. ``I'll just say this, those guys have made a lot of improvements and corrected the mistakes that got to those situations of giving up a sack or having a bad run. There's a lot of things that you could say, `Well, there's 51 sacks.' But does that mean they're a bad line? Absolutely not, because there's a lot of other things that can factor into that.''

Part of what makes Rodgers so special is his ability to turn a broken play into a big gain, getting outside the pocket and waiting until he finds an open man, throwing on the run.

It's resulted in countless dazzling plays and left many a defensive player shaking his head in wonder as he trudges down the field for the next snap.

But it also can leave Rodgers vulnerable. The more time he takes, the more chances a lineman or linebacker has to chase him down.

``Your mentality when you're blocking for him is make sure you stay engaged. You can't have a time clock in your head, thinking the ball might be gone,'' Lang said. ``You've got to stay locked up with those guys, match their effort. As long as they're moving, you're moving to try and stay in front of them. Whenever we do that, we give Aaron some time, he tends to make a lot of big plays. That's definitely something that we work on a lot and we try to make sure we're good at.''

But the bigger challenge in protecting Rodgers - this season, at least - has been consistency.

Or a lack of it.

With a new center in Jeff Saturday and Marshall Newhouse in his first season as the full-time starter at left tackle, the Packers were clearly out of sync early on. Rodgers was sacked 16 times in the first three games, and 21 times through the first five.

No coincidence the Packers began the season 2-3.

Just as the line found its rhythm, right tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost to a season-ending hip injury on Nov 4. Over the next six weeks, the Packers would use four different starting combinations on the offensive line, including rookie free agent Don Barclay at right guard.

``It's a hard thing to do,'' right guard Josh Sitton said. ``I had to do it as a rookie, be the sixth man on the O-line, and having to come in and not knowing you're going to be in, not knowing when you're going to play and then finally getting your chance, it's a tough thing to do.''

And yet, the Packers have found stability among the chaos.

Evan Dietrich-Smith, whom Rodgers has been touting as the Packers' future center, replaced Saturday in the starting lineup Dec. 23, and it looks as if he's been playing the position for years. He's a little faster and a lot more physical, and having that anchor up front sets the tone for the rest of the line.

Barclay has had some growing pains - he struggled in the regular-season finale in Minnesota - but has grown with each week, and he's drawn rave reviews from everyone from Rodgers to coach Mike McCarthy.

``He's given us some stability there,'' Rodgers said. ``We still want him to get off to a good start every week, but you worry less and less about Don every week, and that's a tribute to how he's played and how he's prepared.''

The line's improvement is evident in the entire offense. Yes, Rodgers was sacked five times in that regular-season finale. But even with that, he was taken down only 14 times over the last five weeks. He was sacked three times in last weekend's wild-card win.

The running game, which depends on a stout offensive line, has taken off, too.

``We've been playing some good football the last couple of weeks,'' Lang said. ``We continue to grow with the guys we've got in there now. We feel confident next to each other.

``We definitely know that this week's going to be a huge challenge for us,'' he added. ``But I think we're ready for that challenge and we're excited about it.''

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Who is Josh Woodrum? Three facts about the former AAF and new Redskins QB

Who is Josh Woodrum? Three facts about the former AAF and new Redskins QB

The search for "QBX" — the term the Redskins Talk podcast has given to the unidentified third passer the team should add to their roster — is over.

Well, it probably isn't. But regardless, Washington does have a new signal caller. 

On Thursday, the Redskins reportedly signed Josh Woodrum, who last played in the AAF for the Salt Lake Stallions. He's also been a part of plenty of NFL teams, but mostly in practice squad stints and for brief preseason action.

Here are three things to know about the 26-year-old.

1) He was at his best with the Ravens in 2017

This comes with the caveat, of course, that he has yet to appear in a real NFL game. With that being said, he did ball out for Baltimore in the 2017 exhibition portion.

Overall, he finished 25 of 36 for 321 yards and four total TDs. He was still cut before Week 1, but for someone who's bounced around with other franchises like Giants, Bears, Colts, Browns and Bills, it was by far his best stretch.

2) He's a former first-round pick... of the AAF QB Draft

OK, so he was undrafted by the NFL. When it comes to the AAF, though, Woodrum was a first-rounder. 

Actually, "first-rounder" might be a better way to put it. The Stallions took him eighth overall (of eight teams) in the league's four-round QB Draft.

In seven starts for Salt Lake, Woodrum completed just over 64 percent of his passes and posted a 6:8 TD-to-INT ratio. The team finished 3-5 before, well, the whole thing shut down.

3) He's a local guy   

Sure, it's not like he's from right down the road from the team's headquarters, but Woodrum's hometown is Roanoke, Va. and he played at Liberty University. Joining the Burgundy and Gold will be a quasi-homecoming for a QB who just spent a good chunk of time out in Utah.

Here's a bonus fact, since you've made it this far into a Josh Woodrum blog: It looks like he likes the Chainsmokers. That means he should get a long-term deal immediately and probably also start in September, too.

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2019 NFL Draft: Updated Big Board expands to 100, Nick Bosa rises above all

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USA Today

2019 NFL Draft: Updated Big Board expands to 100, Nick Bosa rises above all

We are officially one week away from the start of the three-day 2019 NFL Draft. Therefore, it’s time for a Big Board update.

This Big Board doubles in size from 50 to 100. Two defensive linemen, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, remain at the top while Maryland safety Darnell Savage steadily keeps moving up the list.

Make sure to check out the updated two-round NFL mock draft and our look at different 7-round, Redskins-only mock drafts. Paths oneand two are available now. But first…

Here is the updated Big Board of the top 100 prospects in the NFL Draft. Consider this a combination of some film review, homework and NFL voices rather than just my personal list.

1. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State                                      

2. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama                                          

3. Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky                                      

4. Devin White, LB, LSU                               

5. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston                                           

6. Montez Sweat, DE, Miss. St.                                  

7. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa                                       

8. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma                                 

9. Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan                                      

10. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson                                          

11. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida                                  

12. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama                                            

13. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson                          

14. Cody Ford, G/T, Oklahoma                                  

15. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Miss. State                       

16. DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia                                              

17. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington                                        

18. Brian Burns, DE, Florida State                                            

19. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU                                    

20. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson                                                  

21. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma                                      

22. Johnathan Abram, S, Miss. St.                                            

23. Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame                              

24. Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State                                        

25. Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State                                            

26. Andre Dillard, OT, Wash. State                                          

27. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State  

28. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State                                       

29. Chris Lindstrom, G, BC                                          

30. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington                                

31. A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi                                 

32. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa                              

33. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi                                            

34. Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M                                  

35. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama                                  

36.Daniel Jones, QB, Duke                                      

37. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri                                          

38. Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple                                      

39. Darnell Savage, S, Maryland                                

40. Irv Smith, TE, Alabama                                         

41. Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington                                        

42. Nassir Adderley, FS, Delaware                                           

43. Chase Winovich, LB, Michigan                                           

44. Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State                                       

45. Jaylon Ferguson, DE, La. Tech                                           

46. L.J Collier, DE, TCU                                 

47. Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia                                     

48. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama                                  

49. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State                                        

50. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida                                           

51. Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State                                           

52. Oshane Ximines, DE, ODU                                   

53. Dre'Mont Jones, DE/DT, Ohio State                                 

54. Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State                                       

55. Connor McGovern, G, Penn State                                     

56. Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia                                    

57. Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame                              

58. Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State                                   

59. Gerald Willis, DT, Miami                                       

60. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama                                        

61. Ryan Finley, QB, NC State      

62. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson                                            

63. David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State                                 

64. Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis                                      

65. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford                                

66. Zach Allen, DE, Boston College                                          

67. Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB, Kentucky                                      

68. Damian Harris, RB, Alabama                               

69. Jachai Polite, LB, Florida                                      

70. Chuma Edoga, T, USC                                           

71. David Long, CB, Michigan                                    

72. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State                                        

73. Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State                                     

74. Joe Jackson, DE, Miami                                        

75. Amani Hooker, S, Iowa                                         

76. Yodny Cajuste, T, West Virginia                                         

77. Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State                                

78. Chuma Edoga, T, USC                                           

79. David Long, CB, Michigan                                    

80. Greg Little, T, Mississippi                                     

81. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M                                  

82. Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas                                

83. D'Andre Walker, LB, Georgia                              

84. Michael Jordan, G, Ohio State                                           

85. Dawson Knox, TE, Mississippi                                            

86. David Edwards, T, Wisconsin                              

87. Andy Isabella, WR, Umass                                   

88. Dru Samia, G, Oklahoma                                      

89. Christian Miller, LB, Alabama                              

90. Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic                               

91. Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri                                

92. Nate Davis, G, Charlotte                                      

93. Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia                                        

94. Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford                              

95. Michael Deiter, G, Wisconsin                              

96. Ben Powers, G, Oklahoma                                   

97. Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt                                       

98. Marvell Tell, S, USC                                

99. Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan                                 

100. Terrill Hanks, ILB, New Mexico State               

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