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Three little-known Redskins who could make things interesting at training camp

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Three little-known Redskins who could make things interesting at training camp

Ah, NFL training camps. They're where every handoff always results in a first down, safe from refs who can ruin things with one piece of yellow cloth and home to roster sleepers.

This story, though, is devoted solely to the third item on that list.

JP Finlay came up with his post-minicamp Redskins roster projection earlier this week and has said he's already extremely confident in roughly 49 of his 53 picks. What can really throw off those kinds of projections, though, is the emergence of little-known players at training camp.

Now, trying to find the next Rob Kelley or Quinton Dunbar or Cam Sims can come off as foolish, considering Washington will bring 90 players to Richmond in late July. However, using observations from offseason practices so far and clues from what coaches are saying can narrow the list of potential preseason difference makers.

So, here are three Redskins who seem like they could seriously shake things up when the Burgundy and Gold reconvene for the summer grind.

Jeremy Reaves

When he's asked to critique a certain position group, Jay Gruden often does this thing where he lists every player in that group, from starter to backup to fringe option. It's hard to discern the times when he's doing that just to be polite from the times when he's doing that because each name truly is relevant.

Jeremy Reaves' name, however, has come up twice at two very different points of the spring and early summer.

Here's Gruden from after the draft, when he was asked about what the Redskins have at safety.

"We still have Montae [Nicholson]. We obviously drafted [Troy] Apke last year, which is a pretty good option. We have [Jeremy] Reaves here in the building. He's doing some good things, did some great things at the end of the year on practice squad. And Deshazor [Everett] and Landon [Collins]. So, we have five pretty good safeties."

Here's Gruden a month and a half later, after the team's last open OTA session, again addressing that secondary spot.

"Apke is doing well. It has been good to see him get a lot of these reps and work. Obviously, last year he did not get a whole lot with his hamstring, so he is progressing nicely. Everett also has picked up the slack. He has done a very good job. Reaves, he made some big plays out there today. So, those guys are taking advantage of their time."

With Collins, Nicholson, Everett and Apke, the defense should be set on the back end. Those four all feel quite locked in.

Yet Nicholson is coming off of an unpredictable second year as a pro, while Apke couldn't get healthy at all in 2018 after a hamstring issue. Perhaps Reaves, who Gruden also called an "upcoming talent" last December, can pick up the slack if either of those DBs drop off.

Sure, the path won't be easy for Reaves, but one thing's for sure: It's better to be brought up by the head coach than not, and he's being brought up relatively frequently.

Craig Reynolds

Craig Reynolds is an undrafted rookie running back who played for the Golden Bears in college.

No, not the California Golden Bears. The Kutztown Golden Bears. Yes, that's a real school, and yes, it's fine if you've never heard of it.

Reynolds could be the longest longshot of the three players on this list, but guys like Kelley, Mack Brown and Marcus Mason have come from a similar level of anonymity to take fall snaps in the 'Skins backfield.

If you look at the RB depth chart, Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson are making the 53 barring anything crazy. Bryce Love will probably hit the PUP, but he's in the franchise's plans, too.

That means Reynolds will have to compete with the likes of the quite popular Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall, but he should see plenty of action late in preseason games. He averaged more than 150 total yards per game last year at school — indeed, it was Division II, that's a very fair counterpoint — but it feels like the chances to make impressions on Gruden and Randy Jordan in precious live action will be there. It's not like Peterson or Thompson will be used that much, anyway.

Plus, if Perine starts fumbling again or Marshall gets injured as he did in 2018, Reynolds could see those chances grow. He just has to seize every one that comes his way.

Donald Parham

Tight end feels like another position that should be simple. Jordan Reed is the star, Vernon Davis is still around despite a somewhat heavy contract and Jeremy Sprinkle is entering Year 3. If Davis or Sprinkle face any competition, you'd expect it to come from the likes of Matt Flanagan or JP Holtz.

You shouldn't ignore Daniel Parham, however. In fact, it's pretty much impossible to.

Parham signed with the 'Skins on June 7, and the 6-foot-8(!) pass catcher was on the receiving end of more than a few passes once he got going. Not surprisingly, he made the most plays in red zone situations, giving QBs like Dwayne Haskins a very appealing target to throw to. 

The Stetson product probably won't add much of anything as a blocker. Remember that Gruden doesn't like using one-dimensional tight ends, so that could hurt him. Going off that, some scouting services even think he'd be best served lining up consistently in the slot. 

Regardless, you just don't see many people at his size running downfield routes, and his potential is noticeable. A few preseason highlights on jump balls could help him stick around past August. 

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Derrius Guice shares workout video amid reports swirling about his health

Derrius Guice shares workout video amid reports swirling about his health

Many Redskins' fans became increasingly worried over the weekend about the health of running back Derrius Guice after a report came out that he suffered a hamstring injury during his rehab process from an ACL injury he suffered last August.

The report questioned Guice's availability for the start of Redskins' training camp, which begins on July 25.

In response to the report, Guice tweeted: "I don’t listen to the noise. I know what’s going on with me." He has since deleted his Twitter account.

But Guice is still an active user on Snapchat, and took to the platform on Monday to share footage of himself working out. The second-year running back shared video taken of him performing a number of drills, many of which required him to change direction quickly and test his hamstring, as well as his knee.

Guice even captioned one of the videos "Hamstring who," with several eyes emojis attached to the caption. Based on his caption, Guice does not appear to seem concerned that this latest report will affect his status for the upcoming season.

Prior to his ACL injury last August, Guice showed plenty of promise during training camp and the preseason. 

At this point, Redskins fans just want Guice to be healthy and ready for Week 1 and showcase the talent that earned him an All-SEC honor at LSU.

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Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott has said privately he will hold out from training camp, per report

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Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott has said privately he will hold out from training camp, per report

Since entering the NFL in 2016, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has established himself as one of the elite rushers in the NFL.

Now, he wants to be paid like it.

Elliott, who has two years remaining on his rookie deal, has privately said he plans on holding out from training camp until he receives a new deal, per ProFootballTalk.

Slated to make just $3.5 million in 2019, Elliott is one of the most underpaid players in all of football. He's set to make $9.09 million in 2020, the final year of his rookie deal.

Dallas has put off extension talks with Elliott simply because he's still under contract for two more seasons, per the report.

Quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are both free agents after the season, and the Cowboys would like to keep both at all costs, ProFootballTalk said. Additionally, Dallas just signed defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to a five-year, $105 million contract extension this offseason.

Should he not receive a contract extension, Elliott could face a situation similar to what Demarco Murray had with the Cowboys in 2014. Murray set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a season, yet Dallas still chose to let him walk in free agency.

Elliott's not the only star running back threatening to holdout this offseason. Los Angeles Chargers' Melvin Gordon has publicly stated he will skip training camp until he gets a new deal and is not afraid to miss regular-season games, similar to what Le'Veon Bell did last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Since entering the NFL in 2016, Elliott has led the NFL in rushing twice. His 4,048 total rushing yards over the past three seasons are the most in the NFL, and he has over 600 more rushing yards than Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley, the next most rushing yards over that span.

Whether he actually holds out or whether the Cowboys turn their attention to extending their star running back will be seen in the coming weeks.

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