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Around the NFL: Yes, Redskins fans, you should root for them again

Around the NFL: Yes, Redskins fans, you should root for them again

Yeah, it’s getting late. The Redskins need some help to get to the playoffs and here is my weekly Redskins-centric look around the NFL to tell you where they might get it from.  

Before we get started, here is where the teams with legitimate wild card hopes stand and their remaining schedules:

Giants (9-4): Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (8-5): @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (7-5-1): Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (7-6): Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (7-6): @Bears, Vikings, @Lions

—Let’s start with the end of the day, the Sunday night game with the Buccaneers at Dallas. The debate has ranged all week over who really is a Redskins fan and who is not depending on whether a person is going to root for the Cowboys to win or refuses to do so. I’m not a judge of who is a fan and who isn’t. But whether you choose to pump your fist when Dallas scores a touchdown or not, the Redskins are much better off if the Bucs lose. That would give the Redskins an opportunity to regain control in their push for the playoffs by putting them a half-game ahead of Tampa Bay with two games left to play.

RELATED: Everett collecting donations in can after fines

—The Packers head to frigid Chicago. The Redskins don’t have to worry about the Packers if they win out but a Green Bay loss could give them some breathing room. Aaron Rodgers is pretty used to the cold so the projected temperature of four degrees shouldn’t bother him. The Redskins head to Chicago next Saturday but according to the long-term forecast the weather conditions will be better.

—The Vikings, who also are a half game behind the Redskins at 7-6, host the Colts in Adrian Peterson’s return to the field. It remains to be seen how much Peterson will play but the Vikings’ rushing game sure could use a boost. They are averaging 2.95 yards per rushing attempt. If that holds for the season it would be the fourth-lowest team rushing average since the merger.

—Those who just can’t even bear to root for the Cowboys’ opponent to lose, hope for the 49ers to pull off the upset at Atlanta. The Falcons have the same 8-5 record as the Bucs but they are ahead on the better record in common games tiebreaker. If the Falcons falter the Redskins could pull back into playoff position with a win on Monday night. An Atlanta loss seems unlikely given the Niners’ 1-12 record but it seems like a big spoiler upset like this would be happens every year. 

—A loss by the Giants to the Lions also would give the Redskins control over whether or not they make the playoffs. Washington would still be a half game behind New York but they could catch up in the season finale on New Year’s Day. There could be some advantages to a Lions loss if it is the start of them losing out the rest of the way (after tomorrow @Cowboys, Packers) but that’s a little complex. The more straightforward route is to have the Giants lose.

—So your Sunday rooting guide is: Cowboys (if you choose, I’m not judging), Bears, Colts, 49ers, and Lions.

—Some think that the Redskins will benefit if the Panthers are eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday. The Panthers could come out deflated if their defense of their NFC championship is officially over 24 hours before kickoff. The Panters will be out of the playoffs if either the Packers or the Vikings win. So even though Redskins fans should be rooting for the opposite outcome in those games, there may be some small consolation there if it doesn't happen. 

—I split last week, winning with the Falcons giving six to the Rams and the Redskins giving one to the Eagles and losing outright with favorites Cowboys and Seahawks. I have five games this week with the Patriots -3 at Denver, the Ravens -6 at home against the Eagles, the Packers giving 5.5 at Chicago, the Texans -6 at home over the Jaguars, and the Raiders -3 at San Diego.

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Moses, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

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

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy


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.