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Redskins WR Maurice Harris and his magic hands prepare for all scenarios

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USA Today Sports

Redskins WR Maurice Harris and his magic hands prepare for all scenarios

Extra homework put Maurice Harris in the NFL and helped turn him into the Washington Redskins’ most versatile wide receiver. The 6-foot-3 target is coming off the best game of his professional career, and recognizes a higher force lent a hand.

The third-year receiver hauled in 10 receptions on 12 targets in the Redskins’ Week 9 loss. He led Washington with 124 yards against the Falcons after never reaching 100 yards overall in either of his two seasons. Partly because the Redskins lost 38-14 and mostly due to his humble nature, Harris downplayed the performance.

When it came to praising the primary tools of his trade, Harris looked down at his blessed mitts and smiled.

“God just blessed me with good hands and the ability to catch,” he told NBC Sports Washington following Wednesday’s practice. 

No extra credit is awarded for degree of difficulty. Bummer considering the frequency of his highlight-reel worthy receptions. Harris’s one-handed touchdown catch in his first game up from the practice squad in 2017 was arguably the team’s grab of the year. Let Harris get even a little finger on a thrown football, and the magic begins.

“Probably some of the best set of hands I’ve seen on a receiver,” receiver-turned-cornerback Quinton Dunbar told NBC Sports Washington about Harris. “Some guys just have them hands that catch everything. He’s definitely one of those guys that just catches everything that touches his hands.”

The trickiest part for Harris involved opportunity. Despite his impressive hands, size and vertical leap, it’s been a slow rise up through the Redskins depth chart.

He began offseason activities part of the uncertain mass behind Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson. Harris quickly broke from the pack during the summer in part because of his ability to play all three wide receiver positions. Then a concussion sidelined him through much of the preseason and the first two games of the regular season. His first catch came in Week 5. Entering Sunday, his stat line read 11 receptions for 102 yards. He virtually doubled those numbers against the Falcons.

“Mo has always been a consistent player for us,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Not the fastest guy in the world, but he runs excellent routes. He's a quarterback-friendly guy. Knows how to work in zone. [Has] the quickness to separate man-to-man, so he's a great option for us right now."

That ability to play all over the field helps Washington’s current situation. Harris filled in for Crowder in recent weeks as the slot receiver recovers from an ankle injury. With Richardson (shoulder surgery) landing on injured reserve this week, Harris likely inherits the outside Z-receiver role. That’s assuming Crowder goes Sunday at Tampa Bay. Otherwise, Gruden might keep Harris inside.

Harris must prepare for both scenarios. He’ll do that and study up on Josh Doctson's “X” role just in case. This detailed work helped put the undrafted free agent in the league

“I just try to know everything. Be available for any spot,” Harris told NBC Sports Washington. “Whenever we install (a weekly game plan) I try to learn every position, so I have that availability.”

Some suggest the best ability for an NFL player is availability. With injuries wrecking Washington’s offense including their skill position players, an opportunity exists for Harris to carve out a steady role. He took advantage last week. The next chance comes against the league’s 30th ranked pass defense. Harris doesn't know where he’ll line up. Whether inside or outside, he and his magic hands will be ready.

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Bruce Allen does not know why Redskins would expect suspension for Reuben Foster

Bruce Allen does not know why Redskins would expect suspension for Reuben Foster

MOBILE, Ala. — Florida authorities dropped domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster earlier this month, and for Redskins team president Bruce Allen, that should mean no NFL suspension.

Allen said as much when speaking with reporters on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. 

"The league is still finishing their investigation of it," Allen said. "I don't know why we would expect a suspension, but we'll let the league finish up."

There is precedent for an NFL suspension regardless of legal action. Recent examples include a three-game suspension for Jameis Winston and a six-game suspension for Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys tried to fight Elliott's suspension in the courts, but eventually, the NFL won. Winston and the Bucs did not appeal his suspension. 

Neither Winston or Elliott were ever charged with a crime, but the accusations against both included salacious details and possible sexual assault, and the NFL did not relent in their rulings. 

For Foster, in the last calendar year he has been arrested twice for separate incidents of domestic violence. The first case fell apart when testimony was recanted, and in the second case, charges were dropped. The 49ers released him after the second incident, and Washington swooped in to claim the linebacker off waivers. 

Throughout this process, the Redskins have maintained that Foster would not play for the organization if he was deemed guilty of any wrongdoing.

"Let me be clear, Reuben will have to go through numerous steps including the full legal process, an investigation and potential discipline from the NFL, as well as meetings with counselors associated with the team before he will ever have the opportunity to wear the Burgundy and Gold as a player," Redskins VP of Personnel Doug Williams said in a November statement.

Allen said that the team conducted its own investigation then and expected Foster to be cleared. Now, Allen expects Foster to stay out of trouble. 

"We hold our players to a very high standard at the Redskins," the team president said. "We ask for a commitment that goes beyond the 60 minutes of a football game. Reuben understands what he has to do, and he's been doing it every day."

As a rookie in 2017, Foster played in 10 games and registered 72 tackles.

In 2018, Foster started the season on a suspension for a drug violation before playing six games. He logged 29 tackles but his year was cut short for injuries before landing on the commissioner's exempt list once the arrest in Florida happened. 

A first-round pick out of Alabama in 2017, Foster will be lined up with a number of his former college teammates on the Redskins. 

Assuming he gets through the offseason without any trouble, when Foster hits the field for Washington, he could be a major asset

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Bill Callahan should return as offensive line coach, answering one major question about Redskins' staff

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Bill Callahan should return as offensive line coach, answering one major question about Redskins' staff

Bill Callahan is expected to return to the Redskins for another season, taking care of one major question regarding Jay Gruden's staff.

Washington's offensive line coach of four years should be back for 2019, Bruce Allen told reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

There had previously been much speculation that Callahan was on the outs.

Callahan came to D.C. in 2015 and has long been hailed as one of the league's top O-line gurus. His tenure with the Redskins has featured both positives and negatives.

Among the positives? Brandon Scherff has grown into an elite NFL guard, Morgan Moses earned a pricey contract extension and 2017 sixth-round pick Chase Roullier spent all of last year as the offense's starting center. And Trent Williams, of course, is still Trent Williams.

However, the unit has been decimated by injuries the past two seasons. Some wonder if Callahan's intense coaching — often times, he keeps his players for an extra 30 minutes after weekly practices — has something to do with it.

In addition, the Burgundy and Gold's running game has never really emerged as a dominant one for a 16-game schedule, and Callahan has always had a large role in that area.

Allen said Gruden's full complement of coaches will be finalized in a few weeks. The head coach wasn't at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday; instead, he was conducting interviews at the Redskins' Ashburn facility. 

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