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Falcons safety Keanu Neal says no 'ill intent' for big hit on Jordan Reed

Falcons safety Keanu Neal says no 'ill intent' for big hit on Jordan Reed

Jordan Reed took a major blow to the head in the Redskins third preseason game in Atlanta, and the blow eventually landed Washington's stud tight end in the NFL's concussion protocol. 

Falcons safety Keanu Neal delivered the hit, and while it was clearly illegal and resulted in a penalty on the field, he took to Twitter to defend his play. 

It's hard to judge intent under the incredible speed that plays happen during pro football. When a player goes in for a tackle, ball carriers can also move, and plays that look dirty in slow motion can look reasonable in full speed. Still, it's undeniable that Reed took a major shot in the helmet from Neal, and it definitely seemed unnecessary. And it's not a secret that Reed has dealt with serious head injuries throughout his NFL career. 

There has been no update on Reed's condition beyond that he's in the NFL concussion protocol. Reed also stayed in the game after the big hit from Neal before his concussion symptoms showed up at halftime. 

Neal is a fifth-year safety out of the University of Florida. He missed most of the 2018 season with an ACL injury. Reed also attended the University of Florida.

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The Redskins need these three to be at their best in Week 2 against the Cowboys

The Redskins need these three to be at their best in Week 2 against the Cowboys

Come about four o'clock on Sunday afternoon, the Redskins and their fans will either be feeling quite good with a 1-1 record or the exact opposite of quite good thanks to an 0-2 start.

Washington will of course need Case Keenum to try and come close to replicating what he did in the opener against the Eagles and could really use a vintage Adrian Peterson Performance. 

Beyond them, though, who needs to be on point for the Redskins? These three absolutely qualify.

Ryan Kerrigan

The Burgundy and Gold's defensive line is down two players already and will be relying upon a couple of guys who basically just arrived. They may have trouble generating pressure up the middle thanks to that, meaning Kerrigan better be ready to do so on the edge.

If the home team allows Dak Prescott to stand in the pocket and pat the ball like Carson Wentz did in Week 1, then it'll be another long day for the entire unit. But if Kerrigan, who plays especially well against division foes, can be a constant threat to Prescott, then that'll make a big difference.

In 2018, Kerrigan forced a game-changing fumble at FedEx Field when facing Dallas. Hopefully he can follow that up with another productive outing this year.

Paul Richardson

Richardson had a fine stat line versus the Eagles, but he did have one drive-killing drop and didn't come up with any of the deep catches he's being counted on to create. Terry McLaurin was clearly the star of the receiving corps, while Richardson played more of a supporting role.

Now, perhaps McLaurin will shine again. Even if he does, Jay Gruden would still love for Richardson to also contribute with a splash play or two. Keenum showed he's willing to take chances downfield, so Richardson will need to use his speed and give Keenum a target for those chances.

The Redskins' most obvious path to a win Sunday will be to pound the ball with Peterson and control the clock as best as they can. That said, if Richardson can flip the field and help the offense score quickly instead of trying to string together 10-play drives, that'll make an upset more likely.

Greg Manusky

Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, after just one game in the role, is drawing comparisons to Sean McVay. He brings his offense loaded with playmakers to Landover for Week 2, and will be squaring off with Manusky's group. It's on Manusky to match Moore.

Manusky had a tumultuous offseason and the defense's Week 1 showing in Philadelphia didn't do much to improve his standing as defensive coordinator. And as mentioned earlier, he'll be rolling out a D-line that's missing some major talent as well as a secondary that has injury issues as well.

Those won't be viable excuses for another game in which his players can't get off the field on third downs or force any turnovers, though. His defenders simply have to play better, sure, but he's going to have to put them in positions to succeed as well, or else he'll be scrutinized even more. 

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NFC East Week 2 Preview: It may be early, but this week is monumental for Redskins' playoff hopes

NFC East Week 2 Preview: It may be early, but this week is monumental for Redskins' playoff hopes

The NFL season is only 16 games, meaning each outcome every week carries a large amount of weight.

But it is still a long season, overreacting to Week 1 is for the most part unwarranted. There are still 15 games left, and no team is eliminated from postseason play after just one loss.

The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles opened up their 2019 campaigns with victories over divisional rivals, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, respectively. 

Here is what to expect from each team in Week 2.

Week 2 NFC East Preview:

Dallas Cowboys (1-0, 1-0 in NFC East):

The Cowboys opened their season in a dominant fashion, jumping out to a 25-point lead on the Giants in the third quarter. Dak Prescott turned in arguably the best game of his career, throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. 

This week, Dallas travels to FedExField for a second-straight divisional clash. In his three years as the starting QB for Dallas, Prescott has absolutely owned Washington. He's won five of six starts versus the Redskins, throwing for six total touchdowns and zero interceptions. He's also added four rushing touchdowns on the ground over that same span.

Dallas will look for that same production out of their fourth-year QB as they hope to continue their recent dominance over their rival. 

They did fall in Washington a year ago, as the Redskins held running back Ezekiel Elliott to just 33 rushing yards. The Cowboys will certainly need more from their star running back to leave Washington victorious.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 1-0 in NFC East):

A dominant second half was enough for the Eagles to escape an upset bid from the Redskins in Week 1. Now, they travel to Atlanta for a Sunday Night Football clash against the Falcons.

Atlanta was one of the more disappointing teams from Week 1, failing to score any points until the fourth quarter in a 28-12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Falcons will certainly need more production from their star wide receiver Julio Jones, who mustered just 31 receiving yards in the team's opener.

The Eagles secondary struggled at times against Washington, allowing rookie Terry McLaurin to eclipse the 100-yard mark in his NFL debut. Heck, Case Keenum finished with 380 passing yards against them in the loss. This group will certainly have to be better in Atlanta if they want to leave the Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a win.

Washington Redskins (0-1, 0-1 in NFC East):

It may just be Week 2, but Sunday's clash against Dallas feels like a must-win. After failing to hold on to a 17-point lead in Philadelphia a week ago, Washington simply cannot afford to go 0-2 to start the season, especially because that would mean two division losses as well.

To do that, they'll have to beat a Cowboys team that has had tremendous success at FedexField. In the 22 matchups on the Redskins home turf, Dallas has won 14 of them. Washington did, however, hold off a late Dallas comeback at FedExField a year ago, winning 20-17.

Stopping Ezekiel Elliott will be crucial for Washington, who will be without one of their best defensive players in Jonathan Allen. In the Redskins victory over Dallas a year ago, Elliott ran for just 33 yards. In his other four games against Washington, all Dallas victories, No. 21 has rushed for an average of 112.8 yards against the Burgundy and Gold. 

The injury bug has already bit Washington in 2019. Besides Allen, the Redskins will be without running back Derrius Guice, tight end Jordan Reed and defensive lineman Caleb Brantley against Dallas.

New York Giants (0-1, 0-1 in NFC East):

The Giants, simply put, looked like one of the worst teams of football in Week 1. A couple of late touchdowns made the final score a little more respectable, but have no doubt about it, they were outplayed by the Cowboys in all three phases in a 35-17 loss.

After defeating one New York team, the Buffalo Bills will look to defeat the other in Week 2 when they travel to Metlife Stadium for a second week in a row. Second-year QB Josh Allen engineered a 16-point comeback over the Jets a week ago, giving the Bills their first win of the season.

For the Giants to earn their first victory of the season, they must feature Saquon Barkley more. Their dynamic running back had a strong opener against Dallas, rushing for 121 yards. The issue was he only received 11 carries, as the game flow forced the Giants to dial-up an aerial attack after falling behind early.

Thankfully for Giants fans, the Bills offense should not put up points the way the Cowboys' offense did a week ago.

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