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After an improbable rise, can Quinton Dunbar keep improving?

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After an improbable rise, can Quinton Dunbar keep improving?

In the coming weeks, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will take a look at the team’s rookies, grade their 2015 season and examine their future prospects.

Today, we’re evaluating cornerback Quinton Dunbar.

Drafted: College free agent

Stats: 13 tackles, 1 interception and 5 passes defended

Grade: B

2015: By now everyone knows the story of Dunbar’s improbable journey from undrafted free agent wide receiver to a regular in the Redskins’ secondary.

By the second half of the season, injuries to key veterans had forced him into a significant role. In fact, he ranked among the most relied upon Redskins from Week 12-16, often playing 50-80 percent of the defensive snaps while also contributing on special teams. (He missed the regular season finale in Dallas with a quadriceps injury).

The highlight of Dunbar’s season came in the Redskins’ pivotal 20-14 win over the Giants in November. Not only did he knock away two passes, he also intercepted Eli Manning in the end zone to preserve a 17-0 second half lead. In that game, Dunbar also suffered a gruesome finger injury but was in the lineup a week later vs. the Cowboys. 

Dunbar also had a strong performance In the playoff loss to the Packers, recording a career-high five tackles to go along with two defended passes.

In 11 games, Dunbar played 267 snaps—the third highest total for a rookie on defense (behind Kyshoen Jarrett and Preston Smith). Dunbar allowed only one touchdown in his coverage, according to ProFootballFocus.com, and was also flagged just once for interference.     

Future prospects: The Florida product boasts great measurable to thrive in today’s game. He’s a rangy 6 foot 2, 201-pounds. He’s also a fluid athlete with impressive speed and good hands. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s a former receiver.

The 23-year-old laid a solid foundation to build upon as a rookie. His biggest concern should be getting lost in the shuffle this offseason as GM Scot McCloughan retools the secondary. The Redskins allowed 30 passing touchdowns last season (22nd) and McCloughan is expected to make significant changes at safety and corner. And with free agency and the draft still weeks away, it’s difficult to assess exactly where Dunbar fits.

But we do know this: last season, he got an opportunity because the secondary was decimated by injuries. If he's going play a significant role in 2016, it's going to be because he earned it with a solid offseason.

Previous rookie reviews:

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.

 

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NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

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AP Images

NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

The NFL is not eliminating kickoffs altogether for the 2018 season. But at the NFL spring meetings in Atlanta, Ga., owners did agree to make significant changes to the third phase of football.

The NFL's new kickoff rules begin with having five players on each side of the ball (previously they could line up six on one side). Also, they cannot line up more than 1-yard from the restraining line, which is the line where the ball is placed on the tee. This prohibits the kickoff team from getting a running start downfield. 

At least two players must be lined up outside the yard-line numbers and at least two players lined up between the numbers and the hash mark. In years past, three players had to be lined up outside the inbounds line with one outside the yard-line number. At least eight players need to be in the 15-yard "setup zone," leaving three players outside of the "setup zone." Before, all kickoff return players had to be behind their restraining line. These changes will place players closer to where the ball is kicked in order to reduce speed and the amount of space on the play. 

Wedge blocks are no longer allowed. Players who were initially lined up in the "setup zone" are the only ones who can now come together for a double-team block. In the past, only 2-man wedge blocks were allowed and could take place on the field anywhere. The purpose of this change is to limit the possible blocking schemes by the kickoff return team. 

No player on the receiving side of the ball can cross the restraining line or block in the 15-yard area from the kicking team's restraining line until the ball is touched or hits the ground. Before, the receiving team could move past their restraining line and block as soon as the ball was kicked. This change gets rid of the "jump-set/attack" block.

Finally, a ball will be considered dead if it's not touched by the receiving team and touches the ground in the end zone. In the past, the ball was dead once it was downed in the end zone by the receiving team. This change means there's no requirement for the kickoff returner to down the ball in the end-zone. 

If that was a lot to dissect, check out the video below. 

In addition to new kickoff rules, ejections are now reviewable. In March, a rule passed that officials can make an ejection after a replay, but not they can also undo an ejection after a replay. 

The league also adjusted the official language for Use of a Helmet rule. 

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