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20 questions in 20 days: 13 Will Hankerson break out?

20 questions in 20 days: 13 Will Hankerson break out?

By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
CSNwashington.com20 questions in 20 daysAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 13:Will Leonard Hankerson have a breakout season?The background:The Redskins thought they got a steal when they took Hankerson in the third round in 2011. Early in the year it looked like they may have been too high on the Miami product as he struggled with drops. But when he finally got his chance to be in a featured role in the offense he produced, catching eight passes for 106 yards against the Dolphins in Week 10. That turned out to be his last game of the season, however, as he suffered a hip injury and went on injured reserve. Injury rehab had him sidelined for most of OTAs and minicamp but he appears to be fully healthy and ready to go.Tandler:When the Redskins signed Pierre Garon and Josh Morgan in free agency, it looked like they were hedging their bets on Hankersons health. But with Hankerson healthy the Redskins could have a quartet of potent weapons at receiver with Garon, Morgan, Hankerson, and Santana Moss. Hankerson could emerge as a dual threat receiver in this group with the ability to move the chains on third and five and to get open deep. That could make him one of Robert Griffin IIIs best friends and that could add up to a Hankerson stat line of 60 catches for 850 yards and six touchdowns. That would constitute a breakout season in my book.El-Bashir:I like Hankersons chances of enjoying a breakout season. First, the 23-year-old appears fully recovered from offseason hip surgery. Second, he finally seems comfortable in Coach Mike Shanahans offense, one season after he occasionally looked lost in it. And third, its possible hell find himself matched against weaker defensive backs as opposing teams look to shut down Robert Griffin IIIs favorite target, Pierre Garon. I also like Hankersons size. At 6 foot 2, 211-pounds, hes the Redskins biggest receiver. Now, he just needs to prove hes gotten over last seasons maddening case of the drops. Fifty-plus receptions, 700 yards and five touchdowns would constitute a successful season, I think.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 Aug. 26Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 YesterdayCan Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 TodayWill Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 TomorrowCan the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 ThursdayHow much can Hightower contribute this year?

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Why did Redskins choose Byron Marshall over Kapri Bibbs? Jay Gruden reveals his answer

Why did Redskins choose Byron Marshall over Kapri Bibbs? Jay Gruden reveals his answer

The Washington Redskins released running back Kapri Bibbs on Saturday, and in turn, made a decision to stick with Byron Marshall at the position instead.

The move leaves Washington with four backs on the roster: Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. Green Bay moved quick to claim Bibbs off waivers, so the Redskins will not be able to sneak him back to their practice squad. 

Asked about the decision to release Bibbs, Washington head coach Jay Gruden explained the situation as he sees it (quotes via Redskins Talk podcast):

You know Bibbs is a good player. I didn’t release him because he’s a poor player. Perine right now is Adrian Peterson’s backup. That’s the way it is. We dress one 1st/2nd-down back throughout the game and that’s Adrian. Chris is our 3rd-down back and obviously 2nd-and-long get back on track back. The next guy I like to have is a backup to both of them kind of, and that’s Bibbs and Marshall. And Marshall, to me in preseason, showed a lot of flash, a lot of speed, he’s a little bit better on special teams although he missed the tackle the other day. 

There's a lot to take in, and some fans take exception to Perine maintaining his roster spot. Listening to Gruden and others at Redskins Park, that decision does not sound at all negotiable.

So the real competition was Bibbs against Marshall. 

"I decided Marshall’s skill set [is] something very intriguing," Gruden said. 

The numbers don't really back up that assertion, but a lot of that is because Marshall hasn't been able to stay on the field. 

Head-to-head

In parts of the last two seasons, Bibbs has been much more productive than Marshall, in large part because of durability. 

The Redskins signed Marshall off the Eagles practice squad in November 2017. He dressed in four games, rushing nine times for 32 yards and adding six catches for 36 yards, before a hamstring injury landed Marshall on the injured reserve, ending his season. 

With Marshall done, the team then signed Bibbs in December from the Denver practice squad. In three games, he piled up more than 200 total yards and a touchdown. 

Fast forward to training camp 2018, and it was clear Marshall was ahead of Bibbs on the depth chart. Marshall looked good too in the early going, before a knee injury landed him on the injured reserve list to start the season.

That created more opportunity for Bibbs, and he played well, especially for a long stretch while Thompson missed time with a rib injury. 

In 10 games this season, Bibbs rushed 20 times for 101 yards and three TDs. He also added another 13 catches for 102 yards and another TD. That's good for a 6.1 yards-per-touch average. 

The Redskins used one of their two injured reserve return designations on Marshall, and his first game back came against Houston in Week 10. In that game he had two carries for five yards, and more infamously, Marshall was the running back on the play when Alex Smith suffered a season-ending broken leg.

In four games since he's returned, Marshall has four catches for 30 yards and three carries for nine yards. He also returned two kickoffs in Jacksonville, averaging 15 yards-per-return. 

The stats don't really matter much now, as Marshall is on the team and Bibbs is in Green Bay.

Gruden picked the guy he believes has the higher upside, and if he can stay healthy, maybe Marshall will prove his coach right. 

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Jay Gruden admits Redskins should have activated Simmie Cobbs earlier

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Jay Gruden admits Redskins should have activated Simmie Cobbs earlier

Last week, the Redskins lost practice squad wide receiver Simmie Cobbs to the Saints even though Washington offered the undrafted rookie a deal similar to New Orleans. 

On Monday, 'Skins head coach Jay Gruden admitted that losing Cobbs stings a bit for the franchise. 

"It was tough because we had him in the building and he was progressing very well," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast.

"In hindsight, I probably should have activated him sooner, to be honest with you."

Credit Gruden for the honesty, and while Cobbs is an intriguing prospect, don't confuse him with Larry Fitzgerald quite yet.

It's possible he doesn't make the active roster this season for New Orleans, but at 6-foot-3 and with good hands, he is the kind of player that turns heads. 

It's easy to criticize the Redskins for rolling with low potential players on the wide receiver depth chart - veterans like Brian Quick and Michael Floyd - instead of giving the rookie a shot. It's also important to recognize that the Burgundy and Gold have been fielding a makeshift offensive line for weeks and juggling a number of other injuries, leaving the roster structure a bit of a mess. 

Even without Cobbs, Gruden pointed out the Redskins still have a number of young, intriguing WR prospects for 2019: Cam Sims, Trey Quinn, Robert Davis and Darvin Kidsy. Sims, Quinn and Davis are all on the injured reserve list while Kidsy is on the practice squad. 

The particular tough point with Cobbs is that the Redskins had an empty roster spot before their game against the Eagles. Gruden perhaps acknowledged that mistake, or even if the right time was at a different juncture, the coach didn't like losing the player. 

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