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'Just plain dirty': Trevor Matich blasts Keanu Neal after hit on Jordan Reed

'Just plain dirty': Trevor Matich blasts Keanu Neal after hit on Jordan Reed

On Thursday, the Redskins earned their first preseason victory of the season, defeating the Falcons 19-7 on the road in Atlanta.

But after the game, celebrating an exhibition win was not in the cards. Attention was turned directly to the health of Washington's star tight end.

After absorbing a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from Falcons safety Keanu Neal in the second quarter, resulting in his helmet flying off, tight end Jordan Reed was forced to exit the contest. No. 86 started feeling concussion-like symptoms at halftime, and head coach Jay Gruden confirmed after the game that Reed had entered the concussion protocol.

The tight end has a history of concussions. If diagnosed with a concussion again, this would be the seventh documented instance for Reed since he started playing college football.

On Redskins Postgame Live, saying that NBC Sports Washington's Trevor Matich was furious about Neal's hit would be an understatement.

“Just looking at that hit, I thought it was a dirty hit. It was dirty," Matich said. "The safety coming up had plenty of time to see what was going on. Reed was in the grass. Reed didn’t duck his head down, and ended up taking a helmet to his head because of a defender coming in low and didn’t expect Reed to duck."

Matich completely put the blame on Neal and emphasized that there's no place for a hit like that, especially during exhibition football when the games don't count in the standings.

"Reed didn’t duck his head. That defender came in high," he said. "That was a dirty hit. It would have been dirty in the regular season, and especially dirty in the preseason.”

The play resulted in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. But it's fair to question whether Neal deserved a harsher punishment.

Santana Moss was asked whether he thought Neal should have been ejected for the hit, and he had no doubt in his answer.

“It should have been," Moss said. "I saw last week in a preseason game a guy had one shot to the head and he was out of there."

Inconsistent officiating has been an issue in the NFL for several years. 

As the league continues each year to alter the rules in order to make the game safer, Moss wants to see the officiating improve its consistency as well.

"That’s one thing I wanted to see, that our officials do better," Moss said. "We talk about all the rules they are changing and the way they’re going to ref these games. When you see something like that, instantly get the guy out of there. This is something that we’re not trying to tolerate. If you allow guys to do this, you’ll find guys in situations like Jordan Reed.”

The NFL continues to try and make the game safer. Many rules have been put into effect recently to eliminate hits like Neal's. Of course, defenders largely dislike these guidelines, claiming it takes away from their ability to defend receivers. Some fans may dislike the lack of contact as well. 

“It takes away some spectacular hits that fans want to see," Matich said.

But at the end of the day, the NFL is a business. 

"Ultimately, this is family entertainment in the NFL. Head trauma is not good for business," Matich said. "It’s just not. You have an expense of losing some of those fantastic hits, but you also have fewer concussions and problems."

While Neal's hit may have been deemed acceptable and regarded as a great hit a decade ago, there's no place for a hit like that in today's NFL.

"I thought that hit right there was just plain dirty," Matich said.

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Redskins injury woes were league-wide issue in 2019

Redskins injury woes were league-wide issue in 2019

Injuries are a part of the game. In something as physically demanding and grueling as football, they are bound to happen. 

But for the Redskins, injuries have seemed like more of a definite than a possibility in recent seasons, and 2019 was no different. However, when looking at the trend from a league-wide perspective, they were not alone.

According to a report by the Associated Press, NFL teams lost over $500 million to either Week 1 starters who were injured or players who ended the season on injured reserve during the 2019 season.

Washington certainly contributed to that number, as the 3-13 season was filled with injuries. From the beginning to the end, the Redskins consistently had players end up on IR. By the end, the likes of Jordan Reed, Derrius Guice, Brandon Scherff and a plethora of others were all on the sideline come gameday.

The Redskins also fit the mold when it came to which type of players were suffering the most injuries. Associated Press reported that wide receivers were the most injured group in 2019, with cornerbacks and safeties coming right behind. Looking at Washington, the IR was littered with those skill position players. 

Paul Richardson Jr. and Trey Quinn were unable to stay healthy, leaving the Redskins with a thin receiving corps. As for the secondary, Quinton Dunbar, Jimmy Moreland, Deshazor Everett, Danny Johnson, Fabian Moreau and Montae Nicholson all finished the season not suiting up. By the final few weeks, Washington was pulling players off the street and inserting them into the game.

Yet, while the Redskins' list of injuries goes on and on, they were not alone. Per the report, the New York Jets racked up the most players on IR with 21, while the Philadelphia Eagles had the most money going toward players that were not active on the field.

There's no denying that the Redskins dealt with a large number of injuries in 2019, but it looks as if they were not unique. With a new training staff coming in for 2020, Washington will look to become an outlier on the injury trend rather than a big contributor.

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DeMaurice Smith: 2-year strike may be necessary leverage for NFLPA in CBA negotiations

DeMaurice Smith: 2-year strike may be necessary leverage for NFLPA in CBA negotiations

Super Bowl week includes a host of fanfare and festivities before Sunday's game. On Tuesday, Super Bowl week included discussions about the league's immediate future when NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith spoke at a rally in downtown Miami. 

Smith, who is currently engaged in negotiations with the NFL on the next collective bargaining agreement ahead of the current deal's expiration in March 2021, said Tuesday if players want to receive everything they're seeking, a two-year strike may be necessary. 

"People need to understand that it's really easy to call for a work stoppage; it's really hard to win one," Smith said at the rally. "So that's why I started notifying players four years ago about saving their checks, making changes to their debt structure, and the reality is that if we want to hold out and get everything we want, that's probably going to mean a two-year strike."

In the next CBA, the NFL and its owners are seeking the ability to expand the regular season to 17 games during the deal, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN. The option to expand playoffs is also being considered, and the league would shorten the preseason slate if the regular-season schedule receives an increase. Another obstacle in negotiations is what the appropriate increase in revenue share for the players — which is currently a 47% minimum — is to agree to a longer season. 

Over the course of an NFL season, Smith visits all 32 teams to give an overview of collective bargaining and what the players can do for leverage. Smith negotiated the current collective bargaining agreement, a 10-year deal agreed to in 2011, and he knows that there could be some concessions made throughout negotiations.

"Any collective bargaining deal is going to be a package of things," Smith said. "Is it going to be an agreement where you get 100% of everything you want? Probably not, and one of the reasons that we're in a position of bargaining right now is because the league didn't get everything they wanted in 2011."

Owners engaged discussions with the players early in 2019, hoping to reach an agreement on a new deal well ahead of the expiration of the current deal, according to Graziano's report. Several components of the new deal have already been agreed upon, including the league's drug and discipline policy and training camp rules, which would limit contact and duration of practices.

The leading issue still to be resolved is the aforementioned regular-season duration. San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders — who played all 17 games in 2019 after a mid-season trade — recently spoke out against a 17-game season. With that key decision looming over the negotiations, Graziano said any optimism that a new deal can be agreed to this offseason has faded. 

Ultimately, the decision is up to the players, as Smith reiterated Tuesday. Players will have the chance to vote on any deal he and his committee formulate.

Smith will meet Thursday with player representatives from 30 of 32 teams — excluding the two Super Bowl teams as they prepare for Sunday's game — to discuss options going forward with no official vote expected, according to Graziano. The NFL hasn't had a strike since 1987, but in the coming months, the players could decide that it's the best course of action to take. 

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