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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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Report: Dan Snyder petitions state of Maryland for gambling license for new stadium

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USA Today Sports

Report: Dan Snyder petitions state of Maryland for gambling license for new stadium

As a return to the old RFK Stadium site for the Redskins seems less likely, Washington owner Dan Snyder appears to be moving forward with a new plan: Staying in Maryland but adding a gambling license. 

Snyder met with a number of Maryland lawmakers to discuss sports betting and acquiring a license for a new Redskins stadium, according to The Washington Post. The report contends Snyder wants to use "sports betting as part of an overall plan to build a domed stadium that could include hotels, offices and training facilities."

The story also suggests Snyder could build the stadium with his own money. 

The Redskins currently play their games in Maryland at FedEx Field and their lease runs through 2027. The stadium is dated and Snyder has openly talked about wanting a new facility for his team to play.

For years, publicly, Snyder has opined that his team belongs back in D.C. at the RFK site. At various times in the last two years that seemed plausible, but political red tape from the federal government continues to hold things up. The stadium sits on federal land, and while the city has tried to regain control of that site, it hasn't happened. Until the city takes control, which is far from happening, it seems unlikely the Redskins get back to the site. 

So if it's time to move forward with Maryland, it requires a bit of a fresh start. The Redskins and the state were holding talks about a land swap to build a new stadium near the MGM National Harbor along the Potomac River, but those talks stalled when it became obvious the team preferred a return to D.C.

Legalized sports betting in Maryland seems likely to hit the ballot this fall, and considering the state already has fully operational casinos, there's little reason to think the vote wouldn't pass.

That's the first step for the Redskins to get a sports betting license for their new stadium. The idea isn't novel; Ted Leonsis has been quite open about adding a sports book to Capital One Arena and already has an agreement with William Hill bookmakers to run the gambling operation. Similar deals are expected at Audi Field and Nationals Park. 

It remains a bit of a surprise that Virginia politicians seem willing to sit out the courtship of a new Redskins stadium. Former Governor Terry McAullife actively flirted with the idea of building a new Redskins stadium in the Commonwealth, but current Governor Ralph Northam almost seems disinterested in the idea. 

The Redskins practice facility is in Loudon County and the team holds training camp each summer in Richmond. The training camp deal is soon to expire and some believe if and when a new stadium facility gets built, that could also house training camp and practices. Currently, no professional sports teams play in Virginia, and the Commonwealth does not appear as near legalized sports gambling as Maryland or the District. 

Like anything with a gigantic project in a region with three different local governing bodies and the omnipresent specter of the federal government looming, a new Redskins stadium will require significant legislative hurdles and deal-making. Stay tuned. 

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Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Just four months shy of his last appearance on the NFL gridiron sidelines, Jay Gruden may already have his 2020 gig lined up, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Gruden was head coach of the Washington Redskins for six seasons, beginning in 2014 and going 35-49-1 in his burgundy and gold tenure. Gruden pushed the Redskins to their first postseason appearance since 2012 in his second year with the team, as well as back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, not seen in Washington since 1996 and 1997. 

In March 2017, Gruden signed a two-year extension with the Redskins. He was fired after beginning the 2019 season 0-5. 

Recently, Gruden confirmed to Rapoport that he was "itching for something to do" and seeking employment before Jacksonville brought him in to interview for the OC role. 

After playing four years at the University of Louisville and eight more in various football leagues, Gruden held many offensive roles, offensive coordinator for the Florida Tuskers and Cincinnati Bengals. 

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