Redskins

Texans knock out Cutler, beat Bears 13-6

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Texans knock out Cutler, beat Bears 13-6

CHICAGO (AP) The Houston Texans created turnovers and played solid defense to beat the Chicago Bears at their own game.

The big question now for coach Lovie Smith and the Bears is how long will they be without quarterback Jay Cutler.

Arian Foster finished with 102 yards rushing and a touchdown catch, and the Texans intercepted Cutler twice before knocking him out of the game with a concussion on their way to a 13-6 victory on Sunday night.

That injury was the biggest development on a night when the Texans prevailed in a showdown between two of the NFL's best teams.

Cutler took a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the second quarter from Tim Dobbins, and coach Lovie Smith said, started experiencing symptoms at halftime.

``He took a lot of hits, more than he needed to take,'' Smith said.

Will Cutler be available next Monday night at San Francisco?

``We're hopeful, but you can't go that far,'' Smith said. ``We just know he had symptoms, which started clearing up after the half. When a guy doesn't finish the game, you've just got to go with that right now.''

It was a better night for the Texans.

``I think we showed them we can win any game, any situation, any time, any place, tough weather conditions, tough place on the road, a very good football team,'' defensive lineman J.J. Watt said. ``We won, so say what you want.''

The Texans (8-1) had four takeaways against a team that came in with a plus-16 turnover differential, and Dobbins delivered the biggest blow when he drove his helmet into Cutler late in the second quarter.

Foster was the only reliable offensive option on either side, particularly in the first half when he ran for 85 yards and made a sprawling catch for a 2-yard touchdown to put Houston ahead 10-3.

Otherwise, neither team got much going on a soggy night. The Texans were outgained 249-215, but they did just enough to come away with the win. Now they're tied with Atlanta for the league's best record after the Falcons were upset by New Orleans.

``It's huge for us, we were 7-1 going in, to come out 8-1 in a hostile place, given the weather and the team we were playing, that's a tough group to go against,'' said Matt Schaub, who threw for just 95 yards and was picked off twice by Tim Jennings.

Andre Johnson, Schaub's top target, had just four catches for 35 yards with Charles Tillman on him. Former Bear Danieal Manning helped set the tone, forcing a fumble by Kellen Davis on Chicago's first play from scrimmage and picking off Cutler later in the first quarter.

Cutler completed just 7 of 14 passes for 40 yards with two interceptions in the first half and was seen in street clothes after the game being driving off on a cart by team officials. Jason Campbell threw for 94 yards in the second half.

``You never want to lose anybody, especially our starting quarterback,'' receiver Brandon Marshall said. ``He is our leader, he is the heart and soul of our offense so we definitely want him to have a quick, speedy recovery.

``In the meantime, Campbell is more than capable. There was no heads hanged down when Jay was down. There was no complaining. We understand we have a starting quarterback in the backup so we're fortunate to have him. There will be no drop off in our offense.''

Marshall had 107 yards receiving, but also dropped a pass in the end zone. Matt Forte never got going, running for 39 yards for Chicago (7-2).

But the biggest sequence came when Cutler got hurt.

The Texans were leading 10-3 on a lunging 2-yard touchdown catch by Foster. A scrambling Cutler took that helmet-to-helmet hit from Dobbins after throwing a pass on third down at midfield late in the first half.

There were offsetting penalties on the play. Cutler got called for an illegal forward pass because he was beyond the line of scrimmage and then got drilled by Dobbins, who was called for unnecessary roughness.

Cutler stayed in and the drive ended with his second interception. Kareem Jackson picked off a pass intended for Marshall in double coverage at the Houston 27.

``It's tough,'' Campbell said. ``That what defenses try to do.''

Was it a cheap shot?

``He caught him right under the chin,'' Campbell said.

Smith wouldn't say if the concussion occurred on that play, adding, ``He took a lot of hits, more than he needed to take.''

He also said Cutler wanted to keep playing but added, ``The decision was made for him.''

Cutler was in for the final drive of the half, but Campbell started the third quarter, sending a big chill through Soldier Field.

After all, the Bears crumbled last season after Cutler injured his thumb, spoiling a 7-3 start. They went into a tailspin with Caleb Hanie and finished 8-8, costing general manager Jerry Angelo his job.

With Campbell now in the mix, the Bears believe they could at least survive, and that theory could be put to the test in a big way with a game at San Francisco next Monday night.

``If I have to play, of course, during the week I will get those practice reps and get the guys used to (me),'' Campbell said. ``And they will get used to me as a quarterback, until Jay is ready. That's something that we have all week to get ready for. We don't have to work that out during the middle of the game.''

Notes: Bears DE Shea McClellin left with a concussion in the opening minutes. ... Texans TE Owen Daniels was out because of a back injury. He was limited in practice on Friday after sitting out the previous two days.

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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 23, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What to look for at OTAs

Redskins OTAs started yesterday. The no-contact drills are the first time during the offseason program that the offense and defense are permitted to line up against each other. The-no pads aspect of it does take off a lot of the edge but the reality is that this will be the closest thing to football we will see until training camp starts in late July. 

Here are some things that I will be looking for during today’s practice.

Who’s in? Jay Gruden told us earlier that we should expect to see some injured key players not participating as they continue to recover from 2017 injuries. Specifically, OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Morgan Moses (ankles), and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring/toe) will only be spectators if they are at Redskins Park at all. Other players who may sit out or participate only in light drills are RB Chris Thompson (leg), and ILB Mason Foster (shoulder). The Redskins have been relatively healthy the past few offseasons so we will see how they deal with the aftermath of the injury scourge that hit the team last year. 

Seven-on-seven—Sure, it’s fun to watch the full team drills with 11 on each side but since blocking and tackling is limited by the rules about contact, there isn’t much to be gleaned from watching an off-tackle run. But when they eliminate the guards, tackles, and interior defensive linemen it’s all passing and then we can watch how well Alex Smith and his receivers are connecting. One thing I’ll keep in mind is that Smith decided not to get the receivers together for a “passing camp” before the offseason activities started. He said that he wanted to get to know the playbook first. Because of that they can be forgiven if they are not quite as sharp as they might be. Also, how natural does Derrius Guice look coming out of the backfield to catch passes? His primary job will be to carry the ball, but if he is a legitimate pass-catching threat, the whole offense will be harder to defend.

Rookies vs. pros—In rookie camp two weeks ago we saw Trey Quinn putting defensive backs on the ground with some moves and Troy Apke showing great makeup speed on some long passes. But those tryout defensive backs and quarterbacks are no longer around. How will Quinn look against veteran Orlando Scandrick or second-year corner Josh Holsey? Will Smith’s ball placement negate Apke’s speed? In the one-on-one pass blocking drills, which emphasize technique over power, can Daron Payne get past Brandon Scherff?

The big guys—With Williams and Moses out, who will line up along the offensive line? Does Payne line up at nose tackle or is he used more as an end with Tim Settle in the middle? Is Ziggy Hood in the middle or will he work outside? How is Phil Taylor looking after a quad injury ended his season in training camp? As noted, the rules make it hard to tell much about linemen before Richmond but we try to glean what we can. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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My reaction to this tweet from the NFL illustrating the changes to the kickoff rules:

Timeline  

Today’s schedule:Redskins OTA practice 11:30; Jay Gruden and Alex Smith press conferences, players available coming off the field, after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 20
—Training camp starts (7/26) 65
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 79

The Redskins last played a game 143 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 109 days. 

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

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