Redskins

Quick Links

Redskins roster hopefuls get an added boost on special teams

Redskins roster hopefuls get an added boost on special teams

Deshazor Everett exited the Redskins locker room this week after another preseason practice under a brutal August sun. 
 
In brief small talk as the backup safety departed, a reporter casually mentioned special teams, that unglamorous part of NFL life that can determine jobs, games and careers far beyond its limited scope during games. 
 
Everett cursed, shook his head and walked away. If his reaction was purposefully dramatic and at least part in jest, it was still telling. Few NFL players want to be pegged as specialists. Yet it was special teams that helped Everett win and keep a roster spot with Washington during training camp in 2015. He has plenty of current teammates facing that same scenario this season. 
 
“That’s always an issue. You come down to the fourth, fifth receiver, which one is the best on special teams?” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Fifth, sixth corner, special teams. The outside linebacker, special teams. The middle linebacker, they’ve got to be able to play [special] teams. Tight end, third tight end has to be able to play some [special] teams. Ideally, you’d like one of your running backs to play [special] teams. That may not be the case this year, we’ll wait and see.”
 
An undrafted free agent from Texas A&M, Everett worked to become a quality special teams player because it was a ticket to stay in the league. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut him early in training camp in 2015, but the Redskins sustained a rash of injuries in the secondary that summer and quickly signed Everett. They needed depth at cornerback and safety, but also liked what Everett brought to the table on special teams. 
 
Later that first year, Everett made a pair of special teams tackles in the NFC East-clinching victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16. He only took snaps on defense in four games in 2015, but played in 11. In 2016, Everett played in all 16 games, but again only took defensive snaps in four of them. But by 2017 he started eight of 14 games and was limited to special teams duty just twice. You can forgive Everett if he doesn’t want to go back to a special-teams only role. 
 
Jehu Chesson knows the feeling. A fourth-round pick in 2017 by the Kansas City Chiefs, Chesson had two catches as a rookie, but was cut by the Chiefs last summer at the end of training camp and signed by the Redskins. He bounced between the active roster and the practice squad and had just one catch, but he appeared in 12 games on special teams and drew attention for his work there. On a roster crowded with young receivers, Chesson’s play on special teams could earn him a spot this time. It will be close.  
 
That’s not necessarily the way he’d want it. Chesson was drafted in the middle rounds, after all, and had 114 catches and 12 touchdowns in four years at Michigan. But, for now, it’s a way to stick just like Everett did. And special teams success can carry over onto the field of play. 
 
“If you go down on kickoff and make a big tackle and then the defense goes three-and-out and you’re back out there on punt return and you punish the gunner, it definitely carries over,” Chesson said. “If you get back out there on offense after that, you’re already going. It’s positive momentum.”
 
Compare Chesson to fellow wide receiver Darvin Kidsy, who is making his own case for a job, but will likely do so without special teams as a factor. Kidsy played 32 snaps against Cleveland on offense earlier this month in the first preseason game and 26 more against Cincinnati, but didn’t take a snap on special teams in either game.  
 
Chesson, meanwhile, had 21 snaps on offense against the Browns and 15 against the Bengals, but also played on 21 of 56 special-teams snaps in those games. Kidsy knows the value added from a big play on special teams. As a sophomore at North Texas, he proudly said he was the No. 1 play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 on Sept. 22, 2014 with a jaw-dropping 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against Nicholls State. It matters.  
 
“It plays a big part,” tight end Jeremy Sprinkle said. “Make a big play there you stand out, you get recognition from coaches.”
 
Sprinkle learned as a rookie watching former Redskins tight end Niles Paul, who was a special teams captain for years with Washington, but also had a 39-catch season in 2014 and forged a role on offense until he left via free agency after the 2017 season. Sprinkle, even if his roster spot is secure, is trying to make that same leap. And every little bit helps.  
 
“I’m watching special teams everyday on tape and games, finding out who’s good, who’s struggling,” Gruden said. “If it’s close, we’re going to err on the side of special teams." 

 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

The Redskins need these three to be at their best in Week 2 against the Cowboys

The Redskins need these three to be at their best in Week 2 against the Cowboys

Come about four o'clock on Sunday afternoon, the Redskins and their fans will either be feeling quite good with a 1-1 record or the exact opposite of quite good thanks to an 0-2 start.

Washington will of course need Case Keenum to try and come close to replicating what he did in the opener against the Eagles and could really use a vintage Adrian Peterson Performance. 

Beyond them, though, who needs to be on point for the Redskins? These three absolutely qualify.

Ryan Kerrigan

The Burgundy and Gold's defensive line is down two players already and will be relying upon a couple of guys who basically just arrived. They may have trouble generating pressure up the middle thanks to that, meaning Kerrigan better be ready to do so on the edge.

If the home team allows Dak Prescott to stand in the pocket and pat the ball like Carson Wentz did in Week 1, then it'll be another long day for the entire unit. But if Kerrigan, who plays especially well against division foes, can be a constant threat to Prescott, then that'll make a big difference.

In 2018, Kerrigan forced a game-changing fumble at FedEx Field when facing Dallas. Hopefully he can follow that up with another productive outing this year.

Paul Richardson

Richardson had a fine stat line versus the Eagles, but he did have one drive-killing drop and didn't come up with any of the deep catches he's being counted on to create. Terry McLaurin was clearly the star of the receiving corps, while Richardson played more of a supporting role.

Now, perhaps McLaurin will shine again. Even if he does, Jay Gruden would still love for Richardson to also contribute with a splash play or two. Keenum showed he's willing to take chances downfield, so Richardson will need to use his speed and give Keenum a target for those chances.

The Redskins' most obvious path to a win Sunday will be to pound the ball with Peterson and control the clock as best as they can. That said, if Richardson can flip the field and help the offense score quickly instead of trying to string together 10-play drives, that'll make an upset more likely.

Greg Manusky

Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, after just one game in the role, is drawing comparisons to Sean McVay. He brings his offense loaded with playmakers to Landover for Week 2, and will be squaring off with Manusky's group. It's on Manusky to match Moore.

Manusky had a tumultuous offseason and the defense's Week 1 showing in Philadelphia didn't do much to improve his standing as defensive coordinator. And as mentioned earlier, he'll be rolling out a D-line that's missing some major talent as well as a secondary that has injury issues as well.

Those won't be viable excuses for another game in which his players can't get off the field on third downs or force any turnovers, though. His defenders simply have to play better, sure, but he's going to have to put them in positions to succeed as well, or else he'll be scrutinized even more. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

NFC East Week 2 Preview: It may be early, but this week is monumental for Redskins' playoff hopes

NFC East Week 2 Preview: It may be early, but this week is monumental for Redskins' playoff hopes

The NFL season is only 16 games, meaning each outcome every week carries a large amount of weight.

But it is still a long season, overreacting to Week 1 is for the most part unwarranted. There are still 15 games left, and no team is eliminated from postseason play after just one loss.

The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles opened up their 2019 campaigns with victories over divisional rivals, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, respectively. 

Here is what to expect from each team in Week 2.

Week 2 NFC East Preview:

Dallas Cowboys (1-0, 1-0 in NFC East):

The Cowboys opened their season in a dominant fashion, jumping out to a 25-point lead on the Giants in the third quarter. Dak Prescott turned in arguably the best game of his career, throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. 

This week, Dallas travels to FedExField for a second-straight divisional clash. In his three years as the starting QB for Dallas, Prescott has absolutely owned Washington. He's won five of six starts versus the Redskins, throwing for six total touchdowns and zero interceptions. He's also added four rushing touchdowns on the ground over that same span.

Dallas will look for that same production out of their fourth-year QB as they hope to continue their recent dominance over their rival. 

They did fall in Washington a year ago, as the Redskins held running back Ezekiel Elliott to just 33 rushing yards. The Cowboys will certainly need more from their star running back to leave Washington victorious.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 1-0 in NFC East):

A dominant second half was enough for the Eagles to escape an upset bid from the Redskins in Week 1. Now, they travel to Atlanta for a Sunday Night Football clash against the Falcons.

Atlanta was one of the more disappointing teams from Week 1, failing to score any points until the fourth quarter in a 28-12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Falcons will certainly need more production from their star wide receiver Julio Jones, who mustered just 31 receiving yards in the team's opener.

The Eagles secondary struggled at times against Washington, allowing rookie Terry McLaurin to eclipse the 100-yard mark in his NFL debut. Heck, Case Keenum finished with 380 passing yards against them in the loss. This group will certainly have to be better in Atlanta if they want to leave the Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a win.

Washington Redskins (0-1, 0-1 in NFC East):

It may just be Week 2, but Sunday's clash against Dallas feels like a must-win. After failing to hold on to a 17-point lead in Philadelphia a week ago, Washington simply cannot afford to go 0-2 to start the season, especially because that would mean two division losses as well.

To do that, they'll have to beat a Cowboys team that has had tremendous success at FedexField. In the 22 matchups on the Redskins home turf, Dallas has won 14 of them. Washington did, however, hold off a late Dallas comeback at FedExField a year ago, winning 20-17.

Stopping Ezekiel Elliott will be crucial for Washington, who will be without one of their best defensive players in Jonathan Allen. In the Redskins victory over Dallas a year ago, Elliott ran for just 33 yards. In his other four games against Washington, all Dallas victories, No. 21 has rushed for an average of 112.8 yards against the Burgundy and Gold. 

The injury bug has already bit Washington in 2019. Besides Allen, the Redskins will be without running back Derrius Guice, tight end Jordan Reed and defensive lineman Caleb Brantley against Dallas.

New York Giants (0-1, 0-1 in NFC East):

The Giants, simply put, looked like one of the worst teams of football in Week 1. A couple of late touchdowns made the final score a little more respectable, but have no doubt about it, they were outplayed by the Cowboys in all three phases in a 35-17 loss.

After defeating one New York team, the Buffalo Bills will look to defeat the other in Week 2 when they travel to Metlife Stadium for a second week in a row. Second-year QB Josh Allen engineered a 16-point comeback over the Jets a week ago, giving the Bills their first win of the season.

For the Giants to earn their first victory of the season, they must feature Saquon Barkley more. Their dynamic running back had a strong opener against Dallas, rushing for 121 yards. The issue was he only received 11 carries, as the game flow forced the Giants to dial-up an aerial attack after falling behind early.

Thankfully for Giants fans, the Bills offense should not put up points the way the Cowboys' offense did a week ago.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: