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Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Saints

Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 8, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.  

Talking points

Here is my last look at tonight’s game between the Redskins and Saints. 

Run the ball but don’t rely on the run

I’m hearing a lot of talk that the key will be for the Redskins to run the ball and control the clock, keeping Drew Brees on the sideline. Well, I heard a lot of that before the game against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. And the Redskins won by 14 despite having a two-minute disadvantage in time of possession and running 11 fewer offensive plays than Green Bay. Yes, they also got 166 rushing yards, so the ground game helped. But they need to score however they can, whether the drive takes two minutes like their first TD drive against the Packers did, or six minutes like their second one did. 

Get off to a fast start

The Redskins have outscored the opposition 49-10 in the first halves of their two wins. Getting off to a fast start will be even more important tonight. That Superdome gets loud when the Saints are rolling. The visitors won’t have to jump out two a two-touchdown lead. Last year, the Redskins kept the fans nervous with an early D.J. Swearinger interception and by taking first-half leads of 10-3 and 17-10. They didn’t get really loud again until, well, you know when. 

It’s better if Josh Doctson (questionable, heel) plays

Whenever I tweeted an update about Doctson’s injury I got replies saying that it didn’t matter, the 2016 first-round pick hasn’t done much this year anyway. And it’s true, Doctson has barely made a dent with his five receptions for 48 yards. 

But it is a mistake to say that the Redskins are better off without him. If Doctson's out, the Redskins would have to get by with Maurice Harris, who has 12 career receptions, Brian Quick, who had six catches last year, and Michael Floyd, who has had just a couple of weeks on the field to learn the offense. It’s a matter of depth and the Redskins don’t have much at the wide receiver position without Doctson. 

A strong finish?

As I have noted a few times this week that the Saints’ pass defense is not very good. They allow more yards per pass attempt (9.6) than Brees gains per pass attempt (8.0). You have to think that Alex Smith will be able to take advantage of this. And I think that the Redskins’ secondary, in the top five in key defensive metrics, will contain Brees. By that I mean he won’t go off for around 400 yards like he has twice this year.

If the game unfolds like that, it will come down to two things. First, can they contain Alvin Kamara, who is averaging 153 yards from scrimmage per game? And can they finish what they start? They weren’t able to do either last year and they saw a big lead melt away. Will things be different this year? 

I think they will. I’m calling the upset. 

Redskins 31, Saints 27

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The agenda

Today: No media availability 

Upcoming: Panthers @ Redskins 6 days; Cowboys @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Giants 20

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2020 NFL Mock Draft 12.0: Who needs to standout in Indianapolis?

2020 NFL Mock Draft 12.0: Who needs to standout in Indianapolis?

The NFL Scouting Combine begins next week, and there are several NFL Draft prospects looking to raise their stock.

Our latest mock draft takes a look at which players could use a solid performance at the scouting combine.

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR LATEST MOCK DRAFT>>

After being a frequent top-5 pick in our early mock drafts, Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy's stock has slid a little. Could a solid performance in Indianapolis reestablish the wideout as this year's best in the class, and maybe warrant a top-5 pick?

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa likely will not participate at the combine as he continues to recover from his dislocated hip. Could Oregon's Justin Herbert take advantage of Tagovailoa's absence and catapult himself into the debate of the best signal-caller in the draft alongside LSU's Joe Burrow?

Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, who many expect the Redskins to use the No. 2 pick on, will put his incredible athletic ability on display. Could the 20-year-old make the Bengals rethink their decision of using the No. 1 pick on a QB?

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR LATEST MOCK DRAFT>>

Every year, we see several prospects who come out of nowhere during the combine and establish themselves as first-round picks. We saw it last year with Montez Sweat, Juan Thornhill, and Justice Hill.

But remember, a great combine doesn't always equate to being a first-rounder. Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf stole the show a year ago at the combine but fell to the end of the second round of the draft.

Next week's scouting combine is the first major event of the offseason as the NFL shifts focus to free agency and the draft.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Jordan Reed is still in concussion protocol six months after the injury, per report

Jordan Reed is still in concussion protocol six months after the injury, per report

The seventh documented concussion of Jordan Reed's football career is still affecting him six months later.

According to a report from The Athletic CharlotteReed is still in concussion protocol from a helmet-to-helmet collision that occurred during a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons in August. 

Reed did not play a snap in 2019, as the team placed him on injured reserve in October.

The tight end is under contract through 2020, as Reed enters the final year of a five-year, $46 million extension he signed with the team in 2015.

But whether he's on the roster or not is uncertain, as NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay reported that Reed's tenure is likely over in Washington. NBC Sports Washington's Julie Donaldson reported Monday that she doesn't expect Reed to return to Washington, either.

"Do we have our tight end? Probably not," Redskins head coach Ron Rivera said on Redskins Nation on Feb. 4. "That’s a big question mark." 

According to Finlay, the Redskins can still release Reed, even if he remains in protocol.

In his six NFL seasons, Reed has never played more than 14 games in one year. Following his breakout season in 2015, Reed never was able to replicate that success.

To address their need at tight end, the Redskins are one of three teams vying for the services of tight end Greg Olsen, who was released by the Carolina Panthers a few weeks ago. Rivera coached Olsen in Carolina for eight seasons.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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