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A bright future? 4 Redskins players land in NFLPA Rising 50 list

A bright future? 4 Redskins players land in NFLPA Rising 50 list

After winning 17 games over the past two seasons, one division title, hosting a playoff game in 2015 and narrowly missing a Wild Card spot in 2016, the case can be made that the Redskins' future appears bright. Some new, purely anecdotal, evidence backs that up.

The NFLPA put out it's Rising 50 list – an inexact look at what players will see a sizable rise in popularity – and four Redskins players made the list. Allow the NFLPA to explain the list: "The annual list identifies players poised to break out and rank among next season’s top-sellers of all officially licensed merchandise – and ultimately become the NFLPA’s next retail kings."

Josh Norman landed highest of the Redskins on the list at 11th. In 2016, Norman made plenty of headlines but only three interceptions. He was the NFL's highest flagged cornerback, but also played at a high level. While he came down with only three INTs in 16 games, he got to a ton of passes, and notched 19 passes defensed. Simply, he was the Redskins' best defender last season.

After Norman came Jordan Reed at 18th. In eight starts in 2016, Reed grabbed 66 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns. Injuries appear to be the only thing that can slow Reed, as defenses cannot handle his size combined with elite athleticism and superb route running ability.

Plenty of people expect a breakout season for Redskins free agent addition WR Terrelle Pryor. The NFLPA is no different, and Pryor ranked 27th on the list. Last year with a collection of bad quarterbacks in Cleveland, Pryor caught 77 balls for just over 1,000 yards. This season, with Kirk Cousins very comfortable in Jay Gruden's offense, Pryor's stats could increase by 15 percent or more. 

Washington may have struggled in the run game last year, but then rookie Robert Kelley was a breakthrough performer. The NFLPA expects more success from Kelley as he took the 41st spot on the Rising 50 list. Kelley will see competition early, as the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this offseason, but with his quick feet and excellent vision the second-year pro out of Tulane could certainly see his popularity grow in the Washington offense. 

The NFLPA Rising 50 list is not foolproof. In 2016, the list ranked Kirk Cousins second overall. That prediction paid off, as Cousins popularity soared as he threw for nearly 5,000 yards and guided the Redskins to the brink of the playoffs.

Further down the list came a miss, as Matt Jones ranked 35th. Reed also made the 2016 list, landing 24th.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 18, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the running backs are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 rushing yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, and quarterbacks

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—He actually finished 10thin the league in rushing yards behind two backs who will face the Redskins. Elliott gets boosted up the list because he was suspended for six games last year. He averaged 98 yards per game played, and had he been able to play in 16 games, he would have led the league in rushing yards with over 300 yards to spare. In three games against the Redskins, he has averaged 110 yards per game and he has five touchdowns. The Redskins’ revamped rushing defense will be tested twice.

Mark Ingram, Saints—He will be coming off of a four-game suspension for Redskins vs. Saints in Week 5. Will he be rested or rusty? If he’s in any kind of form, the Redskins defense will have to be on its game. Last year against Washington in the Superdome, Ingram rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. 

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars—The rookie did surpass the thousand-yard mark, posting 1,040. Some pointed out that it wasn’t a consistent effort as he gained 310 yards, almost 30 percent of his total, in two back-to-back games in Weeks 5 and 6. That’s fine but he still is a difficult opponent with his combination of size and speed. I look for him to have a big breakout this year. 

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry, Titans—Lewis averaged 5.0 yards per carry with the Patriots last year and Henry gained 744 yards while sharing time with the now-retired DeMarco Murray. Lewis will play a lot of third downs and will spell Henry sometimes early in games. That will leave the 6-3, 247-pound Henry fresh to grind up the clock if the Titans have a late lead. 

Jay Ajayi, Eagles—Nobody has quite figured out why the Dolphins dealt him to the Eagles in midseason, but Philly was more than happy to add him to the offense. Ajayi became a workhorse in the postseason with 42 rushing attempts and six receptions in three games. 

I do need to mention Giants rookie Saquan Barkley here. I have to think that the second overall pick of the draft will rank somewhere on this list, but without seeing him in an NFL uniform yet it’s hard to rank him. He will be dangerous, no doubt. 

Best of the rest: Lamar Miller, Texans, Alvin Kamara, Saints, Ronald Jones, Bucs

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

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Timeline 

Former Redskins offensive tackle Geroge Starke, one of the original Hogs, was born on this date in 1948.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 8
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 22
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 45

The Redskins last played a game 199 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 53 days. 

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How's the knee? Trent Williams looks beyond ready in workout videos

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USA TODAY Sports

How's the knee? Trent Williams looks beyond ready in workout videos

Trent Williams went under the knife for his first-ever knee surgery about seven months ago.

Plenty of Redskins fans worried that the Pro Bowl left tackle might not be ready to go when the 2018 season starts.

Worry no more. 

Yes, that is Williams working out with veteran running back Adrian Peterson. And by the looks of it, Williams' knee looks just fine. 

Williams tore his right patella tendon last fall, but continued to play through the pain while the Redskins chances of a playoff bid remained. Once that window got firmly closed after an ugly Thursday night loss in Dallas, Williams contemplated sitting out, but other injuries on the line had already decimated the Redskins. Eventually, Williams shut down his season after a blowout loss in Los Angeles to open December. 

This offseason, Williams got the knee repaired. Washington coach Jay Gruden said repeatedly during the offseason that he expected Williams ready to go for training camp, and the workout videos suggest that to be the case.

This is great news for the Redskins offense, and for new quarterback Alex Smith. Expect Washington to be cautious with Williams, particularly in the early going of training camp in Richmond, but like Trent tweeted, "the walk says it all."

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