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Need to Know: Five Redskins to watch vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Five Redskins to watch vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 10, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Talking points

After a bad loss in New Orleans, a number of Redskins will be in the spotlight on Sunday. Here are five players to watch during Redskins vs. Panthers.

QB Alex Smith

Against the Saints, Smith posted a passer rating of 69.9, his worst since he had a 56.1 rating for the Chiefs in a December 2016 game against the Titans. Usually, Smith is on this list just because he is the quarterback and he doesn’t play well the Redskins are unlikely to win. But after a performance like he had against the Saints he will be under the microscope much more than usual. A few poor performances in a row and chatter about his age and his fit in the offense will grow. 

G Brandon Scherff

The offensive line has been inconsistent, and Scherff has been part of their problems. In the last two games, he has allowed a sack, a QB hit, and two hurries. Those aren’t bad numbers for your average NFL guard but typically Scherff doesn’t allow the quarterback to get bothered that often in a month’s worth of games. Scherff going to get paid $12.5 million under his fifth-year option next year and he’s going to be looking for a long-term deal that pays him at least that much annually. He needs to be much better.

TE Jordan Reed

Reed was getting on a roll before Monday night. He averaged 4.6 receptions and 56 yards before getting just one for 21 yards in New Orleans. Since the start of the season, Reed’s workload has remained on the light side, around 40 snaps per game as he continues to work his way back from toe surgery that limited his offseason conditioning program. He will get worked into the lineup more and more often over the next few weeks and any game he could explode with a 100-yard, multi-touchdown game. 

OLB Preston Smith

Ryan Kerrigan got out of the zero-sack club against the Saints and now it’s Smith’s turn. At this point last year Smith had four sacks. And he finished with eight. He also got off to a slow start in 2016 with no sacks through his first five games and he finished the year with 4.5. A similar performance this year would not look good on his resume and it won’t help his ability to collect big money as a free agent when the season is over. 

CB Josh Norman

I don’t think you need much elaboration here. He was bad enough against the Saints to get benched for a series after halftime. Former teammate DeAngelo Hall said that Norman is more focused on being a celebrity than he is about being a good player. His first interception since Christmas Eve in 2016 would go a long way towards quieting the noise. 

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The agenda

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

Upcoming: Panthers @ Redskins 3 days; Cowboys @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Giants 17



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NFL agrees to three rule changes, fourth-and-15 onside kick proposal yet to be voted on

NFL agrees to three rule changes, fourth-and-15 onside kick proposal yet to be voted on

NFL teams agreed to three rule adaptations for the 2020 season on Thursday, the league announced in a statement.

The three rule changes were as follows:

  • Scoring plays and turnovers that were negated by penalty will now automatically be reviewed.
  • Kickoff and punt returners are now given defenseless player protection rules should they have possession of the ball and not enough time to avoid contact of their opponent.
  • Teams can no longer manipulate game clock by committing multiple dead ball fouls with the clock running.

Additionally, the NFL agreed to a bylaw change that increases the number of players that can return from Injured Reserve from two to three has been approved. The NFL has yet to confirm.

However, the most fascinating proposal from the NFL's virtual owners meetings -- the 4th-and-15 onside kick proposal -- has yet to be voted on.

The proposal would allow teams to have one fourth-and-15 play from their own 25-yard line in place of an inside kick. 

Pelissero reports that owners did have an unofficial vote regarding the proposal on Thursday, by taking a show of hands, and the proposal did not have enough to pass. There has yet to be an official vote, however.

This is a developing story. We will provide more updates as they come.

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Redskins OC Scott Turner and his QBs making the best of their virtual offseason

Redskins OC Scott Turner and his QBs making the best of their virtual offseason

Sitting and waiting to play with your new toy is no fun. 

That essentially is what it’s like for Redskins offensive coordinator, Scott Turner. The coronavirus lockdown has the newly name OC forced to meet with his players virtually.

In a pandemic-free world, with a new head coach named, the Redskins would have had a two-week jump start on the rest of the league to meet players and install their system. Turner says despite not seeing his players on the field, they are making use of the time given to them. 

“We’re putting a lot of work in, obviously abiding by the rules the NFL has set forth — four days a week, two hours a day,” Turner said. 
Same as all the others. The Redskins QB’s choose to start at 1pm each day. The reason? Alex Smith is in Hawaii. No one seems to complain – and if anything, the others wish that they, too, were in paradise for workouts.

As for putting his new offensive system in place, Turner says he is breaking up by installs. 

“We have gotten through, I think, so far six at this point,” Turner said. “They are separated by play type and then we will do a situational install.”


Turner said everyone’s brain works differently so the staff tries to group things together as best they can. It’s slightly different for the quarterbacks, 

“The big thing there is just every play, explain to the them what the objective is on that play, what we are trying to accomplish and what the philosophy is,” Turner said. “That’s something that’s are trying to express to those guys.”

Running those meetings are Turner and Ken Zampese, Washington’s quarterbacks coach. Then there’s Luke Del Rio, the son of Jack, the defensive coordinator. He’s only 25, but is quickly emerging in his new role as offensive quality control coach, organizing notes and coming up with useful information for the quarterbacks.

While head coach Ron Rivera continues to stress competition, he has named Dwayne Haskins Jr as their guy. Kyle Allen is the backup quarterback.

And then there is Smith.

The 13-year veteran missed all last season after suffering one of the most gruesome injuries in NFL history in Week 11 of the 2018 season. He participates in all the meetings, but we wait to see if he can miraculously return to the field. 

An ESPN E:60 documentary featured Smith’s rehab process, giving the world an inside view into the destruction of his leg and the power of his mindset to try to overcome it. Rivera has recently said Smith will have to be able to “protect himself” in order to compete at camp in August.

At the end of the 2019 season, Smith adamantly told reporters he planned to return to the game: “Without a doubt”. 

It would be nothing short of a miracle, and proof of modern-day medical practices, if that becomes a reality. Some say he’ll never play again, while others say it wouldn’t surprise them given Smith’s determination.

In the meantime, Smith continues to be a leader in the virtual meeting room offering as much input as he can. Setting the example for Haskins on how to prepare as an NFL quarterback. Haskins openly admits how smart Smith is and how willing he is to learn from him. Haskins also sees Turner as a young coach he can relate to.

It’s a new offense for Smith and Haskins to learn. Allen is more familiar, having played in it for two years in Carolina. But in the virtual classroom, Turner says all are equal. 

“We’re kind of throwing a lot at them,” Turner said. “In the beginning of every meeting, we do some quizzes, tests. Just test their retention.” 

All are quizzed at the same and all taking their own notes. Allen has said he is more than willing to help others learn the system when he can.

So how will we know the effectiveness of these virtual meetings and who has a firm grasp of the offense? From player to coach, I am told there is only one way — when live practice takes place. Until then, Turner and his quarterbacks will Zoom away.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.