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Redskins' Montez Sweat moving on from draft day slide with his 'crazy' speed

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Redskins' Montez Sweat moving on from draft day slide with his 'crazy' speed

ASHBURN – Bryce Love was the talk of college football at times during his four seasons at Stanford.

During that stretch, the 2018 Heisman Trophy runner-up talked about Montez Sweat.

Love, part of the Redskins’ 2019 draft class along with the pass-rushing Sweat, often talked shop with Dexter Lawrence, a former high school teammate and standout at Clemson. Conversations with the Wake Forest, North Carolina natives veered into thoughts on players at their respective positions.

With Lawrence, the 17th overall selection by the Giants in April’s Draft, that meant defensive lineman.

“We always talked about the different (players) and up-and-coming people, and all that good stuff,” said Love, the running back Washington selected in the fourth round. “We definitely talked about [Montez].”

What was said about the 6-foot-6, 260-pound edge rusher with arms that fall just above his knees and blinding speed?

“You saw it at that Combine,” Love told NBC Sports Washington of the league-wide pre-draft event that shot Sweat into top 10 pick talk. “To be that big and that fast is a special kind of athlete. … That 4.41 (40-yard speed), crazy.”

Sweat, one of the Redskins two 2019 first-round selections along with quarterback Dwayne Haskins, stood out Saturday during the second day of the team’s mini-camp at Redskins Park. There were no pads or blocking, but those athletic traits grabbed attention.

“The skill set that he has is quite evident,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Saturday. “You see his length. Watch him run after practice and he’s faster than anyone we have probably right now. Great length, great speed. Now it’s just a matter of transitioning him into the [defensive plan].”

Back up. Jay, did you just say the defensive end/outside linebacker is the fastest player on the team?

Perhaps not wanting to spark a debate, Gruden minimally toned done the speed hyperbole. “He’s fast, he’s fast. He eats up ground when he runs,” the coach said. “Three strides and he’s already across the field. Crazy.”

Its conceivable future 2019 draft flashbacks have NFL thinkers wondering how crazy teams were to pass on a prospect who recorded 22.5 sacks and 30 tackles for loss his last two seasons with Mississippi State.

Sweat sliding to the 26th pick didn’t surprise Sweat’s camp.

Those high projections faded following reports of a heart condition. Some teams immediately stopped considering Sweat in the first round based on the initial medical reports. Others did their due diligence and determined the risk of a reported enlarged heart were overstated or misdiagnosed.

Sweat had pre-draft with meetings with teams all over the first round including reported visits with the Texans and Eagles, both of which entered the draft with selections in the 20’s. He did not visit Redskins Park.

With so much uncertainty, Sweat hung out at a Top Golf location in Atlanta on draft day rather than attend the league’s festivities in Nashville. The player Washington hopes will chase down quarterbacks tried his best to focus on smashing golf balls rather than where he would land.

“At some point I started to look (at the draft), but most of the time I was playing golf with the family trying to take some of the pressure off,” Sweat said Saturday.

As Sweat fell, at least three teams looked to trade into the first round, according to a source. Moving ahead of the Raiders at 27 was considered necessary.  One of them did. The Redskins sent their second round picks in 2019 and 2020 to the Colts for the 26th pick.

Sweat received the news via a phone call from his future head coach. “[Gruden said], ‘We just traded to come get you,’” Sweat recalled.

The two were in the same space during the two-day mini-camp. Sweat appreciated getting “back to football and learning your job.” That meant studying defensive end and outside linebacker schemes. The playbook he received is a bit more than the basics.

It’s fair to say the chip on his sizeable shoulders is a bit larger following his draft day adventures.

“Regardless of where I went I was going to give my all, try to reach my full potential,” Sweat said. “Obviously, great chip on my shoulder. Going to prove those teams wrong that passed on me.”

Asked Saturday about the medical fears, Sweat said, “As you see, I’m out here working. I feel great.”

Sweat and Ryan Anderson are the primary candidates to replace ex-Redskin Preston Smith at the outside linebacker spot opposite Ryan Kerrigan. Gruden wouldn’t take the bait about the potential starter, but said of Sweat, “I have no doubt that he’s going to play a lot, obviously.”

That’s the obvious buzz ahead of the upcoming Organized Team Activities, veteran mini-camp and July’s training camp. At this point Bryce Love isn’t the only one talking about Sweat.


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Redskins seek to add linebacker depth by signing Gary Johnson

Redskins seek to add linebacker depth by signing Gary Johnson

The Redskins added some linebacker depth Saturday afternoon by signing former Texas LB Gary Johnson, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported.

Johnson, 23, was released by the Kansas City Chiefs back in June following mandatory minicamp.

This signing immediately addresses a position of need as Washington's linebacker room is banged up. Reuben Foster was ruled out of the entire season due to a torn ACL he suffered in May, Josh Harvey-Clemmons is going through concussion protocol while strengthening an ailing knee, and Shaun Dion Hamilton is still questionable with a chest injury. 

In his two seasons at Texas, Johnson tallied 147 tackles, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and two pass breakups in 23 games.

Johnson took to Twitter to celebrate his latest opportunity in the nation's capital: 

Johnson's Twitter profile also features the statement "I Hate QB's & RB's."

It's fair to say the Redskins are always on the lookout for defensive guys with that mentality. 


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Stock Up, Stock Down: Montae Nicholson and Samaje Perine going in opposite directions

Stock Up, Stock Down: Montae Nicholson and Samaje Perine going in opposite directions

The Redskins lost to the Bengals Thursday night at FedEx Field, but in the preseason, final results don't really matter. What matters comes in individual and group performances, particularly among first-team units.

In that vein, the Redskins starting defense looked strong against Cincinnati. Outside of some dumb and wacky penalty calls, the starting defense barely gave up any first downs. A number of players impressed on that group, so let's start with the stocks trending in the right direction. 

Stock Up

  • Montae Nicholson - The 96-yard interception return for a touchdown was an impressive display of playmaking ability and speed, but more than that, it was the culmination of a strong offseason and training camp. For the Redskins to be a Top 10 defense, Nicholson needs to be the hard-hitting stud that Washington fans saw glimpses of as a rookie in 2017. Last year was a lost season for Nicholson, who dealt with injuries, getting benched and legal troubles. 2019 is a new start, and so far, it looks quite good. 
  • Adrian Peterson - Not that a first-ballot Hall of Famer really needs preseason validation, but when Peterson ripped off a 26-yard run in the first quarter against the Bengals it became pretty obvious he's ready to go for 2019. And it's important too as second-year back Derrius Guice still isn't cleared for competition. 
  • Robert Davis - Another week, another long touchdown. If there's a handbook to show how to force your way onto a roster, Davis is reading from it. 
  • Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne - These dudes are beasts. 

Despite the good news, there was bad news too. Here's that list:

Stock Down

  • Samaje Perine - Five carries for one yard against Cincy. You read that right. That comes after a poor showing in pass protection in the preseason opener. Jay Gruden always sings praises of Perine but hasn't after the last two preseason games. Prior to Shaun Wilson's ankle injury, he seemed like a guy that could really push for Perine's roster spot. Could that be Byron Marshall now?
  • Paul Richardson - The speedster wideout missed the Bengals game, and the word from one Redskins coach was "he's hurt." Many players get held out of preseason action with slight injuries, stuff they would play through in the regular season. That's not the deal with Richardson. He needs to get right. 
  • Cole Holcomb - If you can't make the club in the tub, Holcomb needs to get back on the field. While he's not in actual roster danger because of the growing number of injuries at inside linebacker, Holcomb is dealing with an AC joint issue. Linebackers need their shoulders, and Holcomb missed a valuable opportunity against the Bengals with presumed starter Shaun Dion Hamilton already out for that game. 
  • Nate Kaczor - The Redskins new Special Teams coach is off to a rough start. In two preseason games Washington has already given up two punt return touchdowns, and against the Bengals, kicker Dustin Hopkins missed an extra point and a field goal. Special teams are tricky in the preseason. In the regular season with 53-man rosters, starting players land on special teams. In the preseason with 90-man rosters, it's largely a collection of players that won't make the final roster lining up on special teams. Still, ugly start.