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Jay Gruden says team 'saw an opportunity' to claim Reuben Foster

Jay Gruden says team 'saw an opportunity' to claim Reuben Foster

Jay Gruden always starts his post-practice press conferences with an injury report. But on Wednesday, the injury report wasn't the priority.

Instead, the head coach faced 10 minutes of questions regarding the Redskins' claiming of Reuben Foster on Tuesday. No member of the front office was made available for comment beyond the statement Doug Williams provided on Tuesday. 

During his time at the podium, Gruden addressed a ton of different angles about the transaction, including why Washington made the move to pick Foster up first and then wait for his murky situation to clear up as opposed to waiting and eventually pursuing him if a resolution happened.

"We probably could've done that, but we saw an opportunity there to claim him and we chose to do that as an organization," Gruden said. 

As for who made the final call on claiming Foster, Gruden said that it was a group decision.

"I think we all had our hands in it," he said. "And we accept, obviously, the questions. But we wanna let the process play out and see what happens and get to the bottom of it. There's no guarantee he's ever gonna play here, to be honest with you. He's got a lot of work to do — personally, with the team, with the NFL, with himself." 

The coach repeated various versions of "we'll let it play out" and expressed a desire to see what the league's investigation of Foster reveals often while speaking. And that's the thing: All of this could be over a guy who never suits up for the Burgundy and Gold. 

But Gruden has had an affinity for Foster going back to his days at Alabama, perhaps making the initial backlash worth a future addition to the defense in the franchise's eyes.

"He was one of my favorite players in the draft defensively, as a player, and one of my favorite interviews as a person," he said, looking back on 2017. "We would like to find out more about what happened."

As for whether this entire thing will be a distraction for a group that's still very much in the playoff hunt, Gruden denied that it would become a problem.

"This is the only time I talk about it," he said. "Right now we're spending great practice time in walkthroughs and practice, and we'll have meetings now, get ready for tomorrow's practice... So after this, it's not a topic."  

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Clinton Portis among group of NFL players charged by Justice Department with defrauding NFL health care program

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UA Today Sports

Clinton Portis among group of NFL players charged by Justice Department with defrauding NFL health care program

The Justice Department charged Clinton Portis and nine other former NFL players with defrauding a health care program for retired players.

The news broke Thursday morning when the Eastern District of Kentucky alleged that the retired players submitted fraudulent claims for medical equipment costing between $40,000-50,000 to the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan. 

Former Redskins cornerback and first-round pick Carlos Rogers is also charged along with Robert McCune, John Eubanks, Tamarick Vanover, Ceandris Brown, James Butler, Frederick Bennett, Correll Buckhalter and Etric Pruitt. Joe Horn and Reche Caldwell are also expected to be charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Portis' attorney Mark Dycio said of the charges (via The Washington Post): "Clinton Portis had no knowledge that his participation in what he believed to be an NFL sanctioned medical reimbursement program was illegal. He is completely taken aback by this indictment and will move forward with the process of clearing his good name and those of his fellow NFL alumni."

According to the indictment, the claims filed between June 2017 and December 2018 totaled $3.9 million and the health care plan paid out more than $3.4 million.

Portis played seven years for the Redskins from 2004 to 2010, rushing for nearly 7,000 yards and 46 touchdowns. He remains a fan favorite and currently works for the Redskins Broadcast Network. 

A Redskins spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. 

Stay tuned as this is a developing story. 

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The Redskins' offense has been bad all year, but they're atrocious on opening drives

The Redskins' offense has been bad all year, but they're atrocious on opening drives

No matter how you break it down — by quarter, by month, by time of day, by location, by whether the opponent has an animal mascot or a human mascot — the numbers show that the Redskins have a really ineffective offense. Currently, they're last in the NFL in points per game and yards per game.

They're bad all the time, honestly.

However, they're downright atrocious when it comes to their opening drives.

In Week 1 against the Eagles, the Redskins scored a touchdown on their opening possession. It was fun. The players had fun. The fans had fun. Everybody had fun.

But since then, they haven't notched a single TD on a first drive. In fact, they haven't converted a field goal, either.

Overall, in their 13 game-opening possessions on the year, Washington has that single end zone trip to go along with a missed kick, seven punts, two fumbles and two interceptions (one of which was taken back for a score).

What's the opposite of coming out hot? The 2019 Redskins' offense.

"I'm tired of the slow starts, our guys are, too," Bill Callahan said Wednesday. "That's the goal of the first drive of the game — try to jump ahead, get ahead, find a way to get on the board early. We haven't succeeded at that." 

The issue is registering with Dwayne Haskins, too. So, what can they possibly do to try to improve?

"Just trying to figure out a way we can move the ball early, not getting behind the chains, finding lanes and getting the ball out fast," the quarterback said. "It helps our defense when we come off fast and move the ball down the field and not put them in a tough scenario with having a short field."

Many have complained about the offense's run-first approach being too predictable under Callahan, and that's something that could be plaguing them at the beginning of their contests. Since he took over as interim coach, for example, the offense has run the ball on their first snap in six-of-eight matchups, including four-out-of-five with Haskins under center.

Of course, this is an area where Jay Gruden struggled as well, but his tendencies weren't as obvious. Plus, and yes, this is minutiae now, he did call two play-action shots in Weeks 2 and 4 that schemed up wide-open receivers that Case Keenum simply missed. He was also in charge for that lone touchdown in Philly.

The most obvious explanation for the problem, however, is one that can explain a lot of things this season: an overall lack of talent. As mentioned at the start of the story, it's not like the offense gets into a rhythm at any point, so their numbers will be underwhelming in any situation or sample.

That said, even with an inexperienced and undermanned group, there should be more production than one TD in 13 chances. Callahan told the media that "we put a lot of thought, focus and concentration" into the early-game plan. Clearly, it's not paying off.

In many ways, the Redskins have fallen behind the rest of the NFL over the past few months. The stats above show that, at least in one way, that's literally very true.  

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