Kushner: So Far Nats Exceeding Expectations

Kushner: So Far Nats Exceeding Expectations

Friday, May 21, 2010 10:55 a.m.

By Holden

I was leaning on the Nats dugout 90 Minutes before the Nationals hosted the Mets this week, and Drew Storen was being fawned over by fans and media alike. Not by me, Ive known the kid a little bit since he was 16.

Storen was called up a little ahead of schedule. I believe the driving force behind the early promotion is because the team is playing .500 baseball a quarter of the way into the season.

Yes, its only seven weeks into the 2010 campaign, but things are different at Nats Park these days.

I initially felt that this team should be expected to win 74 or 75 games. Ryan Zimmerman gave the guarantee that, No way we lose 100 games this year. I was all over that lofty expectation. Not in a good way. It was slightly embarrassing because it verbalized just how bad things had gotten around these parts.

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told me that his expectations for this team have not changed. We expect to win every day. Ive felt like that since day one.

While that doesnt mean that theyll win every game, the difference between this years team and Nats clubs of years past is that they do have a CHANCE to win every day. Thats every day excluding the ones that Roy Halladay pitches. Who knows, maybe theyll get to him a time or two this year.

Third Base coach Pat Listach says his expectations for the team have changed since Opening Day. Hes adjusted his perspective because, We have Matt Capps. The bullpen let us down too many times last season.

That leads us back to Storen. He takes pressure off of the overtaxed arms in the bullpen. The fresher arms are in the late innings, the better chance of holding onto a lead.

Ultimately, a few things need to happen for the Nationals to heighten my own expectations for this years ball club.

Stephen Strasburg must be effective when hes called up in a couple of weeks. Theres no way Livan Hernandez continues to pitch like Cy Young, so The Savior needs to give six solid innings every fifth day once he arrives to the majors next month.

Chien-Ming Wang will have to throw 75 effective innings in the second half, so that John Lannan, Craig Stammen and Livo arent relied upon to be anything more than they actually are: back-end of the rotation starters.

More offense from right field would help too.

A .500 team after 42 games? Im pleasantly surprised.

Have I changed my expectations for this team? Not in terms of wins and losses, but Ive come to realize that this team will battle game in and game out. Theres something to be said for that and I wasnt sure that would happen.

74 or 75 wins? Maybe. 81 wins and a .500 record? Not out of the realm of possibility.

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

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, 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. 


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. 

In case you missed it

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

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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