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Adrian Peterson sounds totally energized by the Redskins' change to Bill Callahan

Adrian Peterson sounds totally energized by the Redskins' change to Bill Callahan

The smile almost fully flashed across his face, but Adrian Peterson stifled it. That didn’t stop him from robustly nodding his head before the question was completed, though. 

The Thursday inquiry from a reporter was meant to gauge Peterson’s mood and whether he’s feeling rejuvenated by interim coach Bill Callahan’s intention to commit more to the Redskins’ rushing attack. It was basically like asking an office worker if they like the idea of getting more vacation days. 

“I’m hyped about it,” Peterson said. “You look at the first four weeks that I played: 11, 12, 10, seven carries. Totally opposite from what we did last year when we were able to be more successful as a team.”

He may have gotten the order wrong, but Peterson’s memory of how many attempts he’s received each time out thus far is right on. That’s not luck or random; instead, it’s a hint into the frustration the future Hall of Famer feels regarding his role in 2019, as he’s made a point to keep a precise tally of how many times (or how few, in his mind) he’s getting the ball. 

Skeptics can look at No. 26’s production, however, and not blame the recently fired Jay Gruden for not sticking with Peterson. Overall, the 34-year-old is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry. His best single game total is a meager 37 yards. 

Yet Peterson and Callahan have both made clear they believe the struggles on the ground stem from not leaning on it enough. In fact, Peterson mentioned how there would be times under Gruden where he would feel like he was about to hit his stride, but then a handful of snaps would happen that didn’t involve him. 

Well, fortunately for Peterson, it sounds like Callahan will not forget about the veteran starting this Sunday in Miami. To put it simply, the running back better make sure his legs are nice and stretched and ready to go. 

“We just haven’t gotten enough into a rhythm to allow him to get lathered up and to really see what he can potentially do for the duration of a game,” Callahan, who earlier this week said rushing attempts is the statistic he values the most, told reporters on Thursday. 

Again, those questioning whether this grind-it-out attitude is best for Washington very well may have a point. To some, it’s outdated, and to others, it’s not worth investing more in because Peterson and a Trent Williams-less offensive line have done nothing to inspire hope that a breakthrough is near. 

Regardless of whether it’s the correct thing to emphasize, the truth is it certainly appears like it’s going to be emphasized. And it very well could work against a pathetic Dolphins defense that is last in the league when it comes to limiting opposing RBs. 

The mystery is whether it will pay off when facing more talented and stronger units, of which there are plenty on the Redskins’ remaining schedule beyond Week 6. What isn’t a mystery, on the other hand, is how Peterson is taking the coaching change and new approach. 

“I know I’ve noticed, and its been felt across the locker room, the tempo, the urgency in practice has changed,” Peterson said. “It reminds me of Minnesota or when I was out in New Orleans... This has been the best week of practice since I’ve been here.”

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Redskins put Vernon Davis on IR

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Redskins put Vernon Davis on IR

The Redskins moved Vernon Davis to the injured reserve on Friday, the team announced.

The move ends Davis' 2019 season, and with the veteran tight end turning 36 in January, bringing into question if this is the end of his NFL career.

Davis suffered a concussion Week 4 against the Giants, the seventh of his career, and never got out of the NFL's concussion protocol. At various times since Week 4 Davis was able to practice, but he never moved on.

Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan was asked for an update on Davis' status this week, but the coach could provide no update. 

The team will bring defensive lineman Ryan Bee from the practice squad to take Davis' roster spot. The move for Bee brings some questions about Daron Payne's availability for Sunday after the stud D-linemen sprained his ankle last week against the Jets. Payne did not practice all week, and while Callahan would not rule the second-year star out of Alabama out for the Lions game on Sunday, the coach did not sound overly optimistic that Payne would be on the field either. 

Davis has had an incredible NFL career and is all over the all-time record book for tight ends. Drafted sixth overall by San Francisco in 2006, Davis has 5,640 career receiving yards to go with 63 touchdowns. In Washington since 2016, Davis had a career renaissance, at times playing alongside Jordan Reed and often stepping up in his absence. In 50 games with the Redskins, Davis has 122 catches for 1,721 yards and eight touchdowns.  

In the final year of his contract, Davis counted more than $6 million against the Recdskins 2019 salary cap. There was some question if the Redskins would release Davis prior to free agency, but the team didn't, largely because of his elite speed. 

Going forward, it's unknown if the Redskins would try to bring back Davis for the 2020 season or allow him to hit free agency. With just 10 catches in four games in 2019, it doesn't seem likely. Washington could also be in for a massive front office and coaching overhaul that would bring many more questions beyond Davis. 

One thing is certain: Davis keeps himself in incredible physical shape and still has high-end speed for a tight end. If this marks the end of Davis' NFL career, there is plenty for the former Maryland Terrapin to look back on with pride. 

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'He's a damn good coach': Shawne Merriman doesn't think Greg Manusky is the problem in Washington

'He's a damn good coach': Shawne Merriman doesn't think Greg Manusky is the problem in Washington

It's completely fair to be critical of Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. 

His unit has allowed over 25 points per game, firmly in the bottom-third of the league. Washington has allowed a league-worst 49 percent completion rate on third downs. There's been a lack of communication between the defensive backs all season, leading to multiple coverage breakdowns every game. Manusky somehow outlived former head coach Jay Gruden, despite the team actively trying to upgrade at the position during this past offseason. 

But not everyone has the same criticism of Manusky that many Redskins fans do.

Linebacker Shawne Merriman played the first two years of his NFL career under Manusky when he was the linebacker's coach in San Diego. Merriman took the NFL by storm. Under Manusky, he made first-team All-Pro and the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons.

Merriman joined the Redskins Talk podcast stream on Friday, and explained why he was able to be successful so early on in his career, as well as why Manusky's scheme may not be the problem in Washington.

"First and foremost, my linebackers coach was Greg Manusky," Merriman said on his early NFL success. "I was fortunate I played for Greg Manusky out in San Diego my first couple years. He's a damn good coach. I was fortunate. To see some of the things said about him, well, I had no problem playing in that scheme. It's the same scheme and operation that they're running [in Washington]. Guys have to go out there and make plays."

Merriman also attributed Washington's defense struggles as more of a greater picture. The Burgundy and Gold's offense ranks second to last in yards per game, dead last in points per game and time of possession per game.

The struggles on offense have put Washington's defense in plenty of unfavorable situations. With their inability to score, the Redskins defense has not been in many circumstances where they can rush the quarterback.

"If you don't have the right opportunities from your offense putting points on the board, where you can go after the quarterback and make those big plays, then what is there to do?" Merriman said. "Some of the teams I played on, we had a quarterback and offense where we knew it was good for at least 28 points a game."

In Merriman's rookie season, the Chargers averaged 26.1 points per game. In 2006, one year later, they averaged 30.8 points per game. In 2019, Washington is averaging just 12.8 points per game, the worst in the NFL.

The comparisons between the 2006 Chargers' offense and the 2019 Redskins are night and day. San Diego went 14-2, had the NFL MVP in LaDainian Tomlinson, and employed 11 Pro Bowlers. Washington will likely finish the season with a top-five pick in the NFL draft and one of the worst offenses in the league. After all, they just snapped a 16-quarter touchdown-less streak.

"You know you can pin your ears back and 90 percent of the time, they're going to throw the ball. That allowed me to go and get after the quarterback," Merriman said. "[The Redskins] haven't been in many situations like that this year. That's why Greg Manusky and his defensive scheme really kicks in. If they can get back to putting points on the board, they have the talent, they have the defensive speed to go out and make plays. But they're not in position to do that right now the way they're playing."

The Redskins defensive numbers back up Merriman's point.

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has been one of the league's most consistent pass rushers since he entered the NFL in 2011; he's never had a season with less than 7.5 sacks. But through 10 weeks, he's only gotten home to the quarterback four times. 

"Kerrigan has been a staple in that defense for a long time," Merriman said. "He's one of the most consistent players to come through the organization. His dropoff, what he's had this year, it tells you exactly what's going on."

The Redskins traded up in the draft to select pass rusher Montez Sweat late in the first round, and thus far, he hasn't shown much.

Merriman isn't concerned about the rookie's abilities; he attributes his lack of success due to the unfavorable situations he's been in.

"[The Chargers] put me in position to make big plays. You have Montez, we talked about some of the guys they have on the defensive line and linebacker," Merriman said. "These guys can make plays. So they have to go out there and make them. Right now, I don't think they're in a position, because of where they are as a team, for them to go out and perform the way they need to perform."

While Washington's defense has certainly not been good in 2019, there's plenty of reason to believe the lack of success goes far further than Manusky.

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