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Burning Questions: Which Washington Football Team player has a lot riding on 2020?

Burning Questions: Which Washington Football Team player has a lot riding on 2020?

As training camp continues to build, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will answer burning questions related to the Washington Football Team.

Up next: Which player, outside of Dwayne Haskins, has a lot riding on 2020?

Pete's pick: Sean Davis

Washington's free agency class is crowded with players on one-year deals, which is something Ron Rivera loves.

"A lot of these guys want to come in and say, ‘Hey, give me an opportunity to compete, let me prove myself,'" Rivera told the media a few months ago. "I love that guys are betting on themselves, that they’re going to come in and prove that they belong, that they deserve an extensive contract." 

Sean Davis is one such guy who's betting on himself, and should he win that bet, it'll do a ton for his career as well as for the franchise, too.

First, look at it from Davis' point of view. The ex-Steeler was a useful contributor during his first three years in Pittsburgh, but in 2019, he appeared just once before landing on injured reserve in mid-September. He needs to bounce back to ensure his NFL arrow is pointing upward again.

As for Washington, well, they've been looking for a pair of safeties to rely on for more than a decade now. They're locked in with Landon Collins at one spot, and with Davis being just 26 years old, he looks like an ideal candidate to slide into the other. 

Davis must be healthy, clean up his tackling and handle his coverage duties well, though, for both he and the organization to be happy. If he comes through, expect his next contract to far outweigh the one he's currently on.

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JP's pick: Fabian Moreau

Cornerbacks can make big money if they prove an ability to stay on the field and cover, and fourth-year Washington CB Fabian Moreau has a real opportunity this fall to show he can do both.

A third-round pick in 2017, Moreau came to Washington with plenty of fanfare from his college days at UCLA. Things haven’t really clicked yet, but the 2020 season presents a chance to take over a starting outside cornerback spot.

For the past few seasons, Moreau has been overshadowed by Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar, but neither player is in Washington anymore. Moreau has also dealt with injuries. As a rookie, he barely played while working back from a torn pectoral and last year he missed a chunk of time with a hurt ankle. 

BURNING QUESTIONS: WHO WILL BREAK OUT?

Now, in 2020, Moreau needs to show up. 

Washington signed Kendall Fuller this offseason and he will nail down one spot in the secondary while Moreau and Ronald Darby compete to start opposite Fuller. If Moreau can win that job, and then play well on the field after that, he stands to see a major payday next year in free agency.

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Stephen Strasburg’s debut shows he still has a ways to go

Stephen Strasburg’s debut shows he still has a ways to go

WASHINGTON -- Elegant pitching took place in the top of the fourth inning Sunday when Anthony Santander led off the inning.

Stephen Strasburg threw him a 79-mph curveball for a called strike. An 87-mph changeup was a ball. Another changeup produced a swinging strike. A third consecutive changeup led to another swinging strike and an out.

Strasburg needed just 43 pitches to finish four innings in his season debut. The problem was he went to pitch the fifth -- and that his achy right hand still has mild issues.

He recorded one out, faded rapidly and was removed after allowing five sudden runs. The hook was too late. The Nationals fell behind, 5-0, and were on the verge of a weekend sweep at the hands of the Orioles and a troublesome 4-8 record before the game was suspended because of oddball circumstances with a malfunctioning tarp.

“You can look at the negative, or you can look at the positive,” Strasburg said. “I think there was a lot more positives. I'm just going to focus on that. Obviously command and execution wasn't very good there in the fifth. They just hit a bunch of singles and found the right spots. So they made me pay for it.”

Strasburg’s start came two weeks after he was supposed to be on the game mound for the first time in 2020. A right wrist impingement caused a nerve problem in his right hand, which led to pain in his thumb. All of the issues with the hand subsided after time off and treatment. He threw a bullpen session Wednesday. Sunday, “Seven Nation Army” poured out of the stadium speakers for the first time this season.

The first four innings showed a pitcher with lowered velocity, but exceptional command. In essence, Strasburg looked like himself. Plenty of curveballs, changeups and outs. Of his 69 pitches, 37 were curveballs or changeups.

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Javy Guerra quickly worked to warm up when Strasburg faltered in the fifth inning. The first out of the inning came on a 101.1-mph line drive from Dwight Smith Jr. It was a harbinger.

Austin Hays hit a line drive to right field. Chance Sisco hit a line drive to right field. Davey Martinez and trainer Paul Lessard came up the dugout steps to head toward the mound because Strasburg shook his right hand. Strasburg waived them back to their spots, though there was an issue.

“To be honest, I felt it,” Strasburg said of his hand pain. “I don't know if it was necessarily like fatigue or just not having necessarily the stamina built up quite yet. But it's something where I don't think I'm doing any long-term harm on it. But it does have an impact on being able to feel the baseball and being able to commit to pitches. That's something I haven't quite figured out how to pitch through it yet, so I think the goal is to continue to get built up and get the pitch count up to where that won't be flaring up over the course of the start.”

He walked the next batter. Pitching coach Paul Menhart went to talk to him. This, presumably, is when Strasburg should have been removed from the game. He was left in.

Bryan Holaday singled. A run scored. Hanser Alberto doubled. Two runs scored. Santander singled. Two runs scored.

Guerre came in. Strasburg departed.

The good news is Strasburg finally made a start in 2020. And, Max Scherzer is expected to return to the mound on Tuesday in New York.

The bad news is 25 percent of Strasburg’s potential starts are over. Starting pitchers were only in line for 12 this year. He missed two, then failed in the fifth inning in what would have been his third start. That gives him nine to go -- if the season makes it to the end -- with a hand that isn’t quite right.

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