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Need to Know: Five players to watch during Redskins vs. Saints

Need to Know: Five players to watch during Redskins vs. Saints

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 4, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking Points

Here are five Redskins players to watch during their game against the Saints. 

QB Alex Smith
The Redskins knew they would have to put a good number up on the scoreboard to beat the Packers and they did it, scoring 31 points. That was enough to put away Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Now Smith’s counterpart is Drew Brees, who leads an offense that is averaging 34 points per game so far this season. Perhaps the Washington defense will hold down the scoring to some extent but certainly, a score in the high twenties will be needed. Smith will need to be efficient and protect the football. 

RB Chris Thompson
Last Sunday against the Giants, the Saints employed a Cover 2 scheme, similar to the one the Colts used to frustrate Smith and the Washington offense in Week 2. The Saints are likely to use the same concept on Monday. That could mean another busy day for Thompson, who had 13 receptions for 92 yards against the Colts. 

The Redskins will also need to move the ball on the ground to try to draw some Saints defenders closer to the line. That means that Thompson and RB Adrian Peterson will need to make New Orleans pay if they go with six men in the box. 

The game has some special meaning for both backs. Peterson was with the Saints for the early part of last season before he was traded to the Cardinals. He said he holds no ill will against the organization. Thompson suffered a season-ending broken leg at the Superdome in Week 11, cutting short his outstanding season. There will be thoughts of that injury, said Thompson, but once the game starts it will be all business. 

DE Jonathan Allen
The second-year player got two sacks of Aaron Rodgers and the Redskins need him to get a similar amount of pressure on Brees. At his height (6-0), Brees has a difficult time dealing with pass rush up the middle. Of course, the Saints’ protection schemes are designed to prevent such pressure so Allen, NT Daron Payne, and DE Matt Ioannidis will need to help each other out to disrupt the Saints’ interior line. 

ILB Zach Brown
Last year, Brown led the league in tackles until a variety of injuries forced him to miss the last three games. This season he was well out of the top 10 even before the bye week pushed him back even further. He will need to be around the ball and make stops if the Redskins are going to slow down Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram. 

S D.J. Swearinger
Brees has started seven career games against the Redskins and he has thrown at least one interception in each of them. Last year it was Swearinger who got the pick. Certainly, it will help if he can get another one. But his main focus should be on defending the back end of the defense. The Saints have had 22 plays go for 20 or more yards this season. 

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The Agenda

Today: Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3:00

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 4 days; Panthers @ Redskins 10; Cowboys @ Redskins 17

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Redskins challenge fans to create all-time team with this pool of franchise legends

Redskins challenge fans to create all-time team with this pool of franchise legends

Everyone has a little bit more time on their hands amid the coronavirus outbreak that’s forced the governors of both Maryland and Virginia to issue stay-at-home orders for the foreseeable future.

With the start of football season still months away, the Redskins decided to give their fans an assignment while they sit at home and wait for the pandemic to be contained.

Using an online form, the Redskins are challenging fans to put together a “dream team” composed of franchise greats and active stars. It’s a fun exercise while sports take a hiatus, so let’s go through the players available for selection.

Quarterback (pick 1)

The choices: Sonny Jurgensen, Billy Kilmer, Doug Williams, Joe Theismann, Alex Smith, Mark Rypien, Sammy Baugh and Kirk Cousins

Notable snubs: Robert Griffin III

Running back (pick 2)

The choices: John Riggins, Alfred Morris, Brian Mitchell, Clinton Portis, Earnest Byner, George Rogers, Larry Brown, Adrian Peterson and Stephen Davis

Notable snubs: Terry Allen

Wide receiver (pick 3)

The choices: Art Monk, Bobby Mitchell, Charley Taylor, Charlie Brown, Gary Clark, Hugh Taylor, Pierre Garcon, Ricky Sanders and Santana Moss

Notable snubs: Henry Ellard

Tight end (pick 1)

The choices: Chris Cooley, Jerry Smith and Jordan Reed

Notable snubs: Donnie Warren

Offensive line (pick 5)

The choices: Jeff Bostic, Jim Lachey, Joe Jacoby, Len Hauss, Russ Grimm, Turk Edwards, Brandon Scherff and Vince Promuto

Notable snubs: Trent Williams and Chris Samuels

Defensive line (pick 2)

The choices: Charles Mann, Dave Butz, Dexter Manley and Gene Brito

Notable snubs: Andre Carter, Ron McDole

Linebackers (pick 3)

The choices: Chris Hanburger, Ken Harvey, London Fletcher, Monte Coleman and Ryan Kerrigan

Notable snubs: Brian Orakpo

Defensive backs (pick 4)

The choices: Brig Owens, Champ Bailey, Darrell Green, DeAngelo Hall, Ken Houston, Landon Collins, Mike Bass, Pat Fischer and Sean Taylor

Notable snubs: Joe Lavender and Paul Krause

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Redskins are warming up to trading down from No. 2 pick, per one report

Redskins are warming up to trading down from No. 2 pick, per one report

The 2020 NFL Draft is less than a month away, meaning the rumors surrounding the Redskins and what they'll do with the No. 2 overall selection are only going to intensify over the next few weeks.

Many expect the Burgundy and Gold to select Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young with the second pick, and it makes sense. He's been pegged as a generational talent by many experts and would make an immediate impact for the Redskins defense.

But coming off a 3-13 season, the Redskins still have plenty of holes on their roster. Arguably the best way to expedite a rebuild of any franchise is by building through the draft, and the Redskins potentially have the opportunity to acquire multiple first-round picks by trading down from the second overall selection. 

According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the team is warming up to exactly that idea.

"I continue to hear that they are increasingly open to trading out," la Canfora said. "I think there's a distinct possibility."

When the Redskins moved up to No. 2 in the 2012 NFL Draft to acquire Robert Griffin III, they shipped three first-round picks to the Rams. It likely would take a deal similar to that for the Redskins to move out of their current draft position.

The Dolphins currently sit at No. 5 and have three first-round picks in this year's draft. They're also desperate for a quarterback. With Miami having the draft capital to strike a deal, they seem like the most likely team to trade up to No. 2. 

Should Washington move down to No. 5, the Redskins would potentially have the chance to select another player La Canfora says they have a high draft grade on: Clemson's Isaiah Simmons.

"If they do drop back a few spots, I believe strongly they would target Isaiah Simmons," La Canfora said. "That's another player I'm told they are super high on their draft board. They feel like he's such a rotational chess piece you can put all over the place. They are very intrigued by that possibility if they were to move down."

Simmons is arguably the most versatile defensive player in this year's draft. Listed as a linebacker, Simmons has lined up as a cornerback, safety and pass rusher, too. Simmons's measurables -- 6-foot-4, 239 pounds -- are off the charts, and the Clemson standout raised his stock even higher this past February with an outstanding performance at the Scouting Combine.

Throughout free agency, the Redskins have not made a splashy move. But one common trait between many of the players Ron Rivera has brought in to Washington is their versatility. Simmons fits exactly that mold. The only question remains if he would still be available by the time the Redskins were on the clock, as both the Lions and Giants would have the chance to take him before Washington.

If Young is considered the best defensive player in the draft, Simmons is right behind him. La Canfora explained that if Washington has the opportunity to trade back and still nab Simmons, that's something they should absolutely consider.

"If you take Chase Young, and he ends up being [Lawrence Taylor], then I get it. You call it a day," he said. "But if he's less than that, and you have the opportunity to trade off of him, as if he were a quarterback, to get quarterback value for the pick because the other team moving up is taking a quarterback, then I don't know how you don't strongly consider it."

La Canfora explained what many assume will be the deciding factor on whether the Redskins trade down or not -- will they get enough in return for the pick?

"It will be mostly tied to the value and trade for the pick," Canfora said. "Do they feel there is enough opportunity to throw three, four, five darts at premium positions on the draft board over the next couple of years that would allow them to hasten their rebuild?"

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