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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Packers

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Packers

Here is what you need to know on Wednesday, September 19, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers  

Talking points

The Redskins are taking on the Packers on Sunday and here is a look at what I found out taking a first look at them. 

It’s all about Aaron Rodgers

You can argue about who the best QB in the game is, but you can’t argue that the Packers are a Super Bowl contender with Rodgers and a sub-.500 team without him. No player carries his team to the extent that Rodgers does. We will see what pops up on the injury report regarding Rodgers after that Week 1 knee injury, but it would be foolish to expect anything other than him taking every snap. 

The Packers’ offensive line is a notch below that of the Redskins

They have a pair of quality tackles in LT David Bakhtiari and RT Bryan Bulaga. But they don’t have a Brandon Scherff equivalent on the inside. Between the line and Rodgers’ mobility (which is somewhat in question due to the condition of his knee), they manage to avoid sacks so don’t look for a pass rush that has been struggling to get better against Green Bay. 

Green Bay’s leading rusher is averaging 3.4 yards per carry

Jamaal Williams in the only Packer who is has more than seven rushing attempts. In two games, Green Bay’s 2017 fourth-round pick has 31 carries for 106 yards with a long run of 11. They use converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery as a change of pace back; he has seven carries for 38 yards (5.4 ypc). 

There are solid players on every level of the Packers’ defense

At age 32, Clay Matthews is not the player who made six Pro Bowls and posted double-digit sacks four times from 2009-2015. But it would be inaccurate to say that he’s a shadow of his former self. He has had trouble staying on the field the last couple of years but when he’s healthy, which he is now, he gets pressure. The Redskins wanted to sign DL Sheldon Richardson, a top-notch run stuffer, this offseason but he went to Green Bay. At safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has 12 interceptions in four-plus years in the league, including one off of Kirk Cousins last week. 

Ball control will not be enough

The conventional wisdom when it comes to beating the Packers is to control the ball with runs and short passes and keep Rodgers on the sideline. Well, that formula didn’t work for the Redskins against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Washington had the ball for 33 minutes, but red zone problems doomed them. They will have to score touchdowns to win on Sunday. Since the start of the 2016 season, the Packers have only one loss in a game that Rodgers started and finished where their opponent scored fewer than 30 points. As the fight song goes, the points will have to soar if the Redskins are going to have a chance to hail victory. 

Injuries of note

RB Rob Kelly was put on injured reserve with a toe injury. He is a candidate to return from injured reserve after he misses at least eight games. 

The agenda

Today: Alex Smith press conference 12 noon; Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Upcoming: Packers @ Redskins (Sept. 23) 4; Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 19; Cowboys @ Redskins 32

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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“ I want to freakin’ play," Trey Quinn on his minor, but frustrating thumb injury

“ I want to freakin’ play," Trey Quinn on his minor, but frustrating thumb injury

Don't try and convince Trey Quinn that it's not a big deal to miss Thursday's preseason game against the Falcons, which is news Jay Gruden confirmed on Tuesday. To Quinn, it matters a lot, even if the contest itself really doesn't at all.

"I want to freakin' play," the second-year pro told reporters in the Redskins locker room. "I know they don't count, but to be honest with you, I want to get out there and compete."

Quinn is dealing with a thumb injury he suffered in warmups for Washington's exhibition opener in Cleveland on Aug. 8. According to the receiver, things got a "little chaotic" before kickoff and someone ran into him while he was catching a punt.

He explained that his hand is "progressing well" and "should be pretty healthy soon." But for a guy who landed on the injured reserve list twice as a rookie, dealing with another health issue just a handful of days away from the 2019 opener is far from ideal.

"I like reps. I freakin' love football. I don't need them, but I want them," he said. "I get aggravated not being out there. I get pretty pissed off. I'm one of the guys that likes to be out there in practice, get the reps and then go in there prepared for the game."

Quinn is one of the funnier and more laid back players on the Burgundy and Gold, and at times on Tuesday, that side came through. There were other moments, though, where he quickly shifted into a very serious tone, like when he was asked if he'd be suiting up if Thursday was a regular-season matchup. 

"Yeah, I'm out there," Quinn said. "Don't ask that question."

His sense of urgency when it comes to returning to action was evident throughout his talk with the media, and for good reason.

At training camp earlier this summer, Gruden identified Quinn as a guy who had all but locked up the slot position, despite the fact that Quinn only has nine career catches to his name. The last pick of the 2018 NFL Draft is a favorite among coaches, but he's well aware that a few more health concerns and missed games could rapidly change that.

Now, this particular thumb problem doesn't appear to be a huge deal on its own. Combine it with the IR stints in 2018, however, plus the daily on-field chemistry building Quinn's missing with the quarterbacks, and you begin to understand why he's so anxious for his finger to fully heal.

Fortunately for him, he's got another 19 days before the Redskins travel to Philadelphia to open up the year. And when that date finally rolls around, Quinn hopes to have one desire on his mind.

"Come the Eagles Week 1, I want to be ready to win."

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Sorry Redskins fans, it's now officially time to freak out about Trent Williams

Sorry Redskins fans, it's now officially time to freak out about Trent Williams

In some situations, no news is good news. In the Redskins situation with Trent Williams, that's definitely not the case. 

On Monday, Washington coach Jay Gruden was asked if there was any update on the holdout that has kept the seven-time Pro Bowler away from the team for most of 2019, including all of training camp and the team's first two preseason games. 

"There are no updates whatsoever," Gruden said of Williams' holdout. 

That's big trouble. 

For the first few months, it seemed like Williams would come back. He was proving a point, showing the organization just how upset he was about a missed diagnosis on his scalp. But then Williams never showed up for training camp, and multiple sources explained Trent was serious about not coming back.

So why is now the time to really be worried? The Redskins will play their third preseason game on Thursday night in Atlanta. That's the important one, the preseason game where coaches really try to play their guys and simulate live action. 

Trent won't be there. 

"We’re preparing with the guys we have right now. That’s all we can do," Gruden said. 

At left tackle, that means second-year pro Geron Christian or newly signed veteran Donald Penn. Neither player comes close to Williams, but barely any NFL tackles do. Williams is elite, his replacements aren't, and that will become more clear than ever in Atlanta. 

But beyond Thursday's preseason game, Gruden's body language on Monday revealed a reluctant acceptance that Williams is nowhere close to suiting up in Burgundy and Gold. Early in training camp, Gruden sounded upbeat and optimistic that Williams would return. On Monday, the coach seemed defeated when talking about his left tackle (watch the video above).

"It is what it is right now," Gruden said. "He’s not here so we just have to talk about the people that we have."

In May and June, Trent's holdout seemed abstract. It was happening, but didn't really matter. Real football was so far away. 

In July, it became real. Williams never took the field in Richmond, and that was a real sign about the severity of the situation. 

On August 20th, with the dress rehearsal third preseason game two days away, Williams is not part of the game plan. He's not even a real thought for the offensive staff.

At the team's practice facility in Ashburn, Williams is a ghost. Unopened boxes sit stacked in front of his locker. There's no music being played, no jerseys being washed, and no big smile creeping out from his prime spot in the corner. 

Real football starts in less than a month, and for the Redskins, Trent Williams is not part of the plan. That's a huge problem, and now more than ever, it doesn't seem like it's changing. 

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