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Jay Gruden explains how Samaje Perine has improved throughout the season

Jay Gruden explains how Samaje Perine has improved throughout the season

Going into the season, the Redskins were planning on using Samaje Perine, their fourth-round running back, on a limited basis. He was supposed to relieve Rob Kelly on occasion and learn the NFL game before competing for a larger role in 2018.

It didn’t work out that way. First Kelley went on injured reserve with knee and ankle injuries and then third-down back Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. Perine rose to the top of the depth chart.

Since moving into the starting job three games ago, Perine has run the ball well. He has 255 yards rushing (85 per game) with an average of 4.3 yards per carry in his three starts.

“I’ve liked the fact that after his 10th carry he’s better than his first carry, and his 12th carry he’s better than his 10th carry,” said Jay Gruden. “He just continues to get better and better, his vision has been good and his decisiveness has been outstanding.”

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However, running the ball is not the only thing that Gruden requires of his running backs. The ability to pass protect is vital and that is an area where Perine is, well, a work in progress. 

“Yeah, he’s getting better,” Gruden said of Perine’s pass blocking. “We just didn’t ask him to do a whole lot of that pass pro early because we had Chris and Rob. He was like our third-string pass protecting-type guy, but when he was in the game in base and we did any play-action passes, he was OK in pass protection. But now, he’s getting more opportunities so the jury’s still out on his pass protection, but I think he’s doing well.”

The other area that Gruden wants to ensure that his running backs master is ball security. Earlier isn’t the season when Perine was a part-time player, the rookie had some issues here. Although he has only one fumble on his official stat line, he had a few other botched exchanges that officially were charged to Kirk Cousins but appeared to be mostly Perine’s fault.

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But since he has been the starter the issues have gone away. Perine has no fumbles and not issues with exchanges in the last three games. To be sure, that’s not a huge sample size but perhaps the early-season struggles can be written off to rookie mistakes and a lack of time working with Cousins.

The last four games of this season will be important for Perine to build on what he has been able to accomplish so far. Kelley is a favorite of Gruden’s and it might be hard for Perine to surpass him to go into the offseason as the starter. But in the end productivity will win out. Perine already has more 100-yard games (2) in his last three games than Kelley has (1) in his 22-game career.

If Perine can continue to improve on the other facts of the game that Gruden wants from a running back, he could end up being set as the starter for the next few seasons. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 16-30

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 16-30

At NBCSportsWashington.com, we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) right after minicamp.

Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2018 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings between now and the start of training camp. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-16>>

Today we are continuing to reveal the list of the players we ranked from 16-30.

Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—The team’s top draft pick (but not the second pick, who is in a higher-ranked group).  

—Two of the anticipated starting offensive linemen

—The team’s leading rusher from 2016

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-16>>

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10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No Redskins receiver broke the 1,000-yard mark in 2017, and bluntly, the receiver position did not unfold like the front office designed.

Terrelle Pryor proved a free agent flop, and while Josh Doctson flashed talent, the consistency did not follow. Jamison Crowder led Washington with 789 receiving yards while 34-year-old tight end Vernon Davis was the team's second-leading receiver. 

The Redskins need more at wideout in 2018, and the front office acted on it. 

The team signed Paul Richardson in free agency, and advanced statistics suggest he could make an impact right away. Richardson has vertical speed in a way the organization hasn't had since DeSean Jackson went to Tampa two seasons ago. 

Doctson could emerge as a true No. 1 WR, and Richardson's speed will help. Sources inside Redskins Park question if Doctson is the type of wideout that can beat cornerbacks off the line. Instead, the team believes Doctson is best when using his athleticism to go up and get balls. That skill set was best illustrated for Doctson in the end zone, where he grabbed six TDs last season. 

Crowder could again lead the Redskins in receiving yards. New QB Alex Smith likes to look to his inside receivers, and with defenses having to account for more speed on the field in Richardson, Crowder should get plenty of open looks. 

Ultimately, the question is if the Redskins will have a 1,000-yard receiver. The answer is an unknown, but the evidence suggests they won't.

No 1,000-yard wideout does not spell doom for Washington. In the last two seasons, eight of 12 NFC playoff teams had a receiver get into four digits. Among the teams that did not get that kind of production from one wide receiver: 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. Remember, that team won the Super Bowl. 

Further down the roster, Washington has contributors but unlikely a breakout star. Maurice Harris has great hands and Robert Davis has shown plenty of athleticism, but significant production would be a surprise. Rookie Trey Quinn could be a player that helps the 'Skins, particularly should Crowder get banged up this year like he did last year, but a 1,000-yard season for a 7th-round rookie seems pretty absurd. 

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