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RG3's speed levels the field for Redskins

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RG3's speed levels the field for Redskins

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Six Minnesota Vikings blitzed. Six Washington Redskins blocked. Robert Griffin III read the moment perfectly, a rookie seeing the play like a seasoned veteran. There would be no one to stop him if he took off.

It's long been known that a running quarterback changes the dynamic of a game. When that quarterback can travel the final 60 yards of a 76-yard touchdown run in about 6 seconds - while wearing pads, carrying the ball and looking back at chasing defenders, as Griffin did on Sunday - then it truly is a whole new ballgame.

``It's been 10-on-11, offensive guys vs. defensive guys,'' Redskins fullback Darrel Young said. ``If you put a guy in that position where he can run, it's 11-on-11.''

Defenses will watch the video of the Redskins' 38-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings and wonder what they can do to stop the Heisman Trophy winner and former Big 12 hurdle champion who already knows how to survey an NFL defense and figure out the next move.

``I saw the blitz,'' said Griffin, describing the third-and-6 that produced the 76-yard run. ``And I was thinking I'm either going to throw hot, or if they miss this blitz and don't hit it the right way, I'm going to run for the first. I saw that they missed it, took off running.''

He had help. None of it would have been possible had running back Evan Royster not picked up blitzing linebacker Jasper Brinkley. The five offensive linemen held their ground against the other five rushing Vikings, leaving a lane for Griffin to run forward and then toward the left sideline.

His speed was such that safety Jamarca Sanford took a bad angle and ended up in a hapless game of chase. Safety Harrison Smith dived at Griffin's heels, forcing a momentary high-step from the rookie. Receiver Josh Morgan added a key downfield block.

The touchdown put the game away in the fourth quarter and dismissed any thoughts that Griffin would be affected by a concussion suffered a week earlier. He ranked 14th in the NFL in rushing as of Monday with 379 yards, far and away ahead of any other quarterback. His threat as a runner also opens up the passing game - he's the only starting QB completing more than 70 percent of his passes and has thrown only two interceptions through six games.

``Anytime you have a quarterback that has a threat of making a play with his legs, a lot of times you have defenses spying the quarterback,'' coach Mike Shanahan said Monday. ``And they want to play man coverage, but they don't want to rush everybody because they've got to account for the quarterback, just like we saw yesterday. Robert breaks the line of scrimmage, all of a sudden you've got six guys rushing, and he's one-on-one.''

Behind Griffin, the Redskins are 3-3 - right there with about one-third of the NFL - and next week's game against the New York Giants is their first against an NFC East opponent. Washington's recent history of futility is irrelevant when he's under center - until or until he gets hurt again. After all, backup Kirk Cousins is more like one of those 10 vs. 11 quarterbacks.

``One of the great things about youth is that you don't know,'' veteran linebacker London Fletcher said. ``He doesn't realize how hard it is to win in this league. He's just been phenomenal in what he's done. Nothing's been too big for him. Really, he's just going out there really having fun. I wish I could have as much fun as he does playing the game because he's really just going out there carefree, just making plays like he's just out of high school and it's how college might be. It's great to watch.''

Notes: Shanahan said WR Pierre Garcon is going to need more rest while recovering from a right foot injury. Garcon was inactive Sunday and has missed three of six games. ``You could see when he's pushing off, he goes downfield, he's not anywhere close to full speed,'' Shanahan said. The coach said the injury is underneath Garcon's second toe. ... CB DeAngelo Hall says it's ``asinine'' to think that he slapped Vikings RB Adrian Peterson after the two jawed at each other after one play. ``He slapped me in the face after making a good tackle on me,'' Peterson said after the game. Hall's response: ``I have no idea what he's talking about.'' Hall added that might have pushed Peterson after the play but didn't slap him.

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Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

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USA TODAY Sports

Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

More than 100 days remain before the Redskins take the field in meaningful NFL action.

Any and all excitement needs to be tempered, significantly, because what happens on a practice field in May without pads does not represent what will happen in September, October and beyond. 

Still, the Redskins group that took the field this week for OTAs showed promise. 

New quarterback Alex Smith looked crisp, connecting with a variety of wideouts and commanding the huddle. New wideout Paul Richardson made the best play of the session when he streaked down the field past rookie cornerback Greg Stroman and hauled in a deep pass from Smith. The play showed Smith's ability to identify open receivers downfield, as well as Richardson's ability to go up and grab a contested catch. Even Stroman, the seventh-round rookie, positioned himself well, he just fell victim to a perfect pass and tremendous athleticism.

That was only one play in a two-hour session. Again, don't take too much from May, when players don't wear pads or engage in any of the violence that the NFL is predicated upon. But the OTAs do serve a purpose, both for players and coaches, and there were nuggets to absorb and try to project for the fall. Here they are:

  • Jay Gruden made clear he's not concerned about the health of his offensive line. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are recuperating from offseason surgery, but Gruden believes both are on track for when things start to matter. It's a good thing the coach isn't concerned because this was the 'Skins line in OTAs (left to right): Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, John Kling. Should that lineup take the field this fall, there will be trouble. 
     
  • The Redskins lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, and the secondary depth will be something to watch throughout training camp. At OTAs, newly signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick lined up opposite Josh Norman in the team's base 3-4 defense. In nickel and dime coverage, Quinton Dunbar lined up opposite Norman and Scandrick moved to the slot. As things progress, it will be interesting to see if Dunbar surpasses Scandrick in base coverage, and what becomes of 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Stay tuned.  
     
  • Rookie running back Derrius Guice looked every part of the first-round talent many judged him to be before draft season rumors caused him to slide to the late second round. Guice cuts with authority and is able to see holes before they form and patiently wait to hit the open space. Guice also looked fine in pass-catching drills, one area that was a question coming out of LSU (but that says more about LSU's prehistoric offense). Watching the Redskins offense work, it seems clear Guice will be the heaviest used runner this fall.
     
  • That said, don't count out Robert Kelley. He looks leaner and plenty quick, showing a few impressive runs during the session. Byron Marshall also looked good, and Gruden pointed out his success in his post-OTA press conference. The running back group will have plenty of competition all the way through Richmond. 
     
  • Jonathan Allen has switched jersey numbers from 95 to 93. Rookie Daron Payne is now wearing 95. Payne and Allen both went to Alabama, both are huge, and both play defensive line. The number switch will take some getting used to. 
     
  • Zach Brown missed the OTA session as he was moving, and interestingly in his spot with the starting defense was Josh Harvey-Clemons. The second-year pro out of Louisville showed impressive speed in coverage, and remember he played safety in college and performed quite well. He has ball skills and great size to be a coverage linebacker. Some were surprised when the Redskins kept JHC last season at the cut to 53, but his development appears to be paying off for the organization. 
     
  • Another linebacker that made a play was Zach Vigil. He impressed for the Redskins late last season and was running the Washington second-team defensive huddle. At one point, Vigil broke through the line of scrimmage and blew up a run play. That prompted D.J. Swearinger to yell from the sideline, "OK Zach. OK ZACH!"
     
  • Speaking of Swearinger, the Redskins defensive captain seemed in midseason form when it comes to yelling encouragement on the field. Nobody hypes up the defense like Swearinger, particularly when the secondary makes a big play. On one pass Dunbar made a nice diving play to break up a pass, and Swearinger and Josh Norman got very fired up, shouting and jumping around. The entire defense responded. Little stuff like that helps disrupt the monotony of offseason work. 
     
  • Jamison Crowder looks jacked and quick. The end. 

 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.