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Aldrick Robinson gets a second chance

aldrick_robinson_vs.pitt_.png

Aldrick Robinson gets a second chance

Aldrick Robinson’s first opportunity to make an impact in the NFL didn’t last long. 

On Sunday, the Redskins’ wide receiver will get a second chance against the Panthers. And this time, Robinson knows can’t afford to drop the ball again.

“Opportunities are limited,” Robinson said. “Now that they’re going to get more involved, I have to take advantage of my opportunities.”

Robinson replaced Pierre Garçon when the No. 1 receiver hurt his foot in the first quarter of the season opener. Robinson played the final three quarters against the Saints and impressed the coaching staff with his speed and route-running. The 24-year-old also hauled in four passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.

As a result of his strong showing, Robinson was tapped to start in Garçon’s place against the Rams the following week. But instead of seizing the opportunity, Robinson missed two blocks and dropped a deep pass that hit him in the hands.

“I didn’t play as well as I wanted,” Robinson said. “That kind of pushed me back a little bit. Now I’ve got another chance.”

Coach Mike Shanahan wouldn’t say exactly how Robinson will be deployed, but with Garçon expected to be sidelined again and the entire group of wide receivers coming off a wretched performance in Pittsburgh that included 10 drops, Robinson will see a more prominent role this week in a critical game for the Redskins (3-5).

“Aldrick has gotten back in the mix,” Shanahan said, referring to Robinson's role in practice this week. “When Pierre went down early, he had a pretty good game. He’s going to get some more playing time. And as you have guys who get hurt, these guys have to step up.”

Robinson played a career-high 66 snaps against the Saints after Garçon hurt his foot. But it was all downhill from there for the Dallas native as his playing time plummeted from 30 snaps vs. the Rams to three against the Giants. He also missed the Tampa Bay game after getting knocked unconscious during the pregame warmup when he ran into teammate Brandon Meriweather.

Against Pittsburgh, Robinson remerged – sorta. He was included in 15 plays and nearly scored a touchdown when dived for a Robert Griffin III pass in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Robinson got both hands on the ball, but cornerback Keenan Lewis held Robinson’s arm, increasing the catch’s degree of difficulty.

Even though he didn’t snag the ball, the play showed Shanahan something.

“If he wasn’t interfered with,” the coach said. “The guy [had him in an] arm bar. He still almost caught it. That showed me a lot right there. There were another couple of routes that he ran that I was really impressed with so he will get some more playing time.”

This time, Robinson plans to grab the opportunity with both hands – on the field, the practice field and in the classroom.

“I have to take a better approach,” Robinson said. “I have to be well-prepared and be ready when a play presents itself Sunday. I’m going to be a lot more focused, work on the details and the little things – all the things that will help me do better than the last time I had this chance.”

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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.

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Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

When Carletha "Nana" West was growing up, she began to take an interest in football. In particular, she took notice of a certain Redskins quarterback. 

"When Sammy Baugh was quarterback I liked him and I was just learning football at that time," West said. "I was young myself."

Baugh commanded the Redskins offense from 1937-1952 and became one of West's favorite player. With that, her fandom for the Redskins grew.

Decades later, her love for the Redskins remains. So for her 107th birthday -- yes, 107th -- she, of course, celebrated it with some Burgundy and Gold festivities.

Joined by Redskins GM Bruce Allen, West took in her birthday on Thursday, July 18, at Brandywine in Alexandria, Va. Not only was she given a customized Redskins jersey with the number 107 and the name "Nana", but West also got a day named after her. In Alexandria, July 18 will now be known as Carletha "Nana" West Day.

West spent some time reminiscing about her years as a Redskins fan, singing 'Hail to the Redskins' and even sharing her advice on how to live a long, fulfilling life. Besides loving football, she shared some simple words of wisdom.

"Make friends," West said. "And keep them."

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