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Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out

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Behind Enemy Lines: Cutler, Forte in, Urlacher out

Checking out the latest enemy intelligence on the Redskins next opponent, Da Bears...Cutler, Forte set for preseason debuts: After sitting out the Bears opener last week against the Broncos, Chicago's starting quarterback Jay Cutlerand all-everything running back Matt Forte will take to the field for the first time this preseason Saturday against the Redskins. Don't expect offensivecreativity to join them."Were going to keep things pretty basic," said Cutler, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "What we unroll against the Redskins isnt the final product. We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to execute plays. But its not going to be the end of the world if were not clicking on all cylinders."The Bears went 7-3 last season with Cutler under center, buta broken thumb ended his season with six game remaining. Without thenot-so cuddly signal caller, who cut down on his turnovers and performed more as heady leader compared to his tempestuous past, Chicago lost five of its final six games and missed the postseason. As for why Cutler missed Bears' most recent game, the birth of his first child came the day before.Chicago's leading rusher and receiver last year, Forte will also make his preseason debut after acting only as an observer last week - a role he also performed throughout much of the season due to a contract squabble. Without the 26-year-old all-purpose back in the lineup against the Broncos, the Bears totaled 36 yards on 21 carries. Free agent Michael Bush brings additional firepower to Chicago's ground game this season.And when Cutler sits...: Former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is expected to take over. Though it's still a little surprising the now 30-year-old (wow, 30!) could not land either a starting job or a scenario where he could find move into the lineup without an injury occurring elsewhere, the Bears are certainly better off for with his presence. Campbell, who signed a one-year, 3.5 million deal this offseason, completed 4 of 5 passes for 13 yards against Denver last week.Protecting the offensive line: The group of blockers expected to keep Cutler upright often had their quarterback running for his life last season. Part of new offensive coordinator Mike Tice's attempt at helping the leaky situation? Eliminate all seven-step drops from the Bears passing game and go with three and five step kind. That means rather than simply relying on hiscannon of a passing arm,Cutler now must engage in quicker mental gymnastics to find targets. That in itself is a new dynamic, but one that should helplimitthe hits and sacks.It also should help Tice gets some Z's. After the Denver loss, Tice joked (I think) the team's offensive line woes "causes him to have trouble sleeping at night."The dicey left tackle situation alone surely leads to insomnia. Tice indicated this week the Bears intend on keeping a tight end on the line next to incumbent and suspect starter J'Marcus Webb and challenger Chris Williams in order to fend off the Redskins outside pass rush led by Brian Orakpo. No Urlacher: The one Chicago defender everyone knows underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, taking Brian Urlacher out not just for the Redskins game, but the entire preseason. Optimistically the Bears are hoping the perennial Pro Bowl middle linebacker will return for the September 9 opener against Indianapolis. (Chicago Sun-Times).Fantasy focus: Brandon Marshall's reunion with Cutler, his former teammate with the Broncos, provides the Bears with their best wide receiver threat in years. Perhaps as interesting is what's going on at the other receiver role where big-bodied rookie Alshon Jeffery is making a run at the starting spot opposite Marshall. The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder caught four passes in the preseason opener and has been a practice standout throughout the summer. With or without the Week 1 starting job, Jeffery is a fantasy sleeper that should go off the board in the later rounds.

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

The Redskins landed two players on the Pro Bowl roster in left tackle Trent Williams and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. This marks the seventh and fourth Pro Bowl honors for the players, respectively. 

Williams has been named to the past seven Pro Bowls, a remarkable feat, and joins Ken Houston as the only Washington players to make seven straight Pro Bowls. He trails only Charley Taylor (8) and Chris Hanburger (9) in total Pro Bowl selections.

After a two-sack performance last Sunday in Jacksonville moved him into second all-time on the Redskins sack list, Kerrigan got named to his fourth Pro Bowl and third straight selection. He has 11 sacks on the season, his third straight year with double-digit sacks. 

Beyond Kerrigan and Williams, five other Redskins players were named alternates to the Pro Bowl: D.J. Swearinger, Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Tress Way, and Adrian Peterson. 

Many thought Swearinger or Way would make the Pro Bowl for the first time in their careers, but both players came up just short. Things look good for Swearinger to make it to Orlando, as Giants safety Landon Collins made the Pro Bowl squad but will miss the game with an injury. 

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How Kirk Cousins' next two games will directly impact the Redskins' playoff chances

How Kirk Cousins' next two games will directly impact the Redskins' playoff chances

A week after it felt borderline irresponsible to talk about the Redskins' 2018 playoff chances, it now feels completely necessary. 

Sure, you can make a pretty easy argument that this team doesn't look like a postseason team. But the fact of the matter is they're in a position to possibly become one in a handful of days.

And who's going to have a lot of say in whether the 'Skins do advance beyond Week 17? Kirk Cousins, because DUH.

Thanks to Dallas' Week 15 loss, Washington isn't out of the division hunt yet. However, their far more likely path to the playoffs is via the wild card, a spot that Cousins and the Vikings currently occupy.

To take that spot, the 'Skins really need to win out (they could still take the sixth seed by finishing 8-8, but that would take a lot more help). That means, first and foremost, Josh Johnson has to lead the Burgundy and Gold to victories over the Titans and the Eagles, which would have them finish the year at 9-7.

If that happens, the Redskins will then only require one Minnesota loss in the next two weeks to steal the second wild card. The Vikings square off with the Lions and Bears to wrap up their schedule, with the former happening in Detroit and the latter taking place in Minneapolis. 

The Eagles are also a factor in all of this, but Jay Gruden's squad could make them less of one by beating them in the 2018 finale.

Earlier this season, when everything was going right for the Redskins, it looked like a January showdown between Cousins' former franchise and his current one could happen. Now, though, the two squads are vying for the same position. 

So, it's really simple, 'Skins supporters — root for your guys to win two more and root against Cousins as well. This time around, No. 8 coming up short down the stretch would really benefit Washington.

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