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Bubble players to make closing argument when Redskins host Jags

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Bubble players to make closing argument when Redskins host Jags

The starters won’t suit up Thursday night when the Redskins host the Jaguars in the preseason finale; their jobs are all but secure heading into this weekend’s final roster cutdown. But there will still be plenty at stake at FedEx Field, particularly for the dozen or so players battling for the last few roster spots.

And you can catch it all on CSN. Redskins Kickoff starts at 6:30 p.m., the game begins at 7:30 and Redskins Post Game Live starts at 10:30.

Here are Tarik’s five position battles to watch:

1-Outside linebacker. Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy and rookie Preston Smith are locks for the 53-man roster. That leaves Jackson Jeffcoat and Houston Bates battling for one job (if the Redskins keep four players at this position, as they did in 2014.) Jeffcoat and Bates are tied for the team lead in sacks with three. Jeffcoat also has an interception, but Bates leads the team in quarterback pressures with five.

2-Offensive tackle. Three-time Pro Bowler Trent Williams and second year player Morgan Moses are the starters. That would seem to leave Tom Compton, Ty Nsekhe and Takoby Cofield battling for two reserve jobs. Compton’s ability to play left and right tackle, as well as tight end, figures to be enough to punch his ticket to the 53.

3-Tight end. Jordan Reed and Derek Carrier, whom the team acquired via trade last month, are locks. That would appear to leave Je’Ron Hamm and D.J. Williams battling for one spot—unless, of course, GM Scot McCloughan’s plan is to scoop up a player who gets squeezed in the final cutdown elsewhere. Hamm has one reception for 23 yards in three exhibition games; Williams has played only 12 snaps and hasn’t been targeted. It’s also possible that Compton’s ability to fill in at this position will allow McCloughan to keep only two full-time tight ends in Reed and Carrier.  

4-Cornerback. If the Redskins keep five as they did a year ago, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of wiggle room. DeAngelo Hall, Chris Culliver, David Amerson, Bashaud Breeland and Justin Rogers figure to be the group. The question, however, seems to be whether Deshazor Everett can force McCloughan’s hand. Everett, an undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M, leads the Redskins with three special teams tackles and a forced fumble. On defense, he has six tackles, including one for a loss.  

5-Inside linebacker. Perry Riley Jr., Keenan Robinson and Will Compton are locks. Rookie Martrell Spaight has an impressive stat line (13 combined tackles) and figures to be the fourth player at this position. The question is whether undrafted rookie Terrance Plummer (10 tackles and a batted pass) can force his way onto the roster. The Redskins kept five players at this position last year, but needs elsewhere could limit them to four this season.

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2 stats that point to a Redskins breakthrough win against Cowboys

2 stats that point to a Redskins breakthrough win against Cowboys

In their last four games, the Cowboys cannot lose to the Redskins. There have been blowouts and there have been nailbiters, but all with the same result, a Dallas win. 

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has never lost to the Redskins, and neither has running back Ezekiel Elliott. Embattled Dallas head coach Jason Garrett holds a 6-2 record against Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. 

Despite all that, two 2018 stats might matter the most when the two teams play on Sunday in D.C. 

At 0-3, the Cowboys are yet to win on the road this season, and Washington is 2-1 so far this year at FedEx field.

In three road games so far this season, Dallas is averaging just more than 12 points-per-game. 

Further, Dallas takes care of the ball when playing at home. They've committed zero turnovers at Jerry World, er, AT&T Stadium.

On the road, the Cowboys average two turnovers-per-game. 

The key to the Redskins victory last week over Carolina was generating three turnovers, and Washington will look to do the same this week. 

In fact, there are other similarities between the Redskins Week 6 matchup with the Panthers and the Week 7 game against the Cowboys. Going into the Carolina contest, Cam Newton had never lost to Washington and the Panthers held a long win streak against the ‘Skins dating back to 2006. 

With strong run defense and creating turnovers, the Redskins snapped that streak. Washington held the top-ranked run game in the NFL to almost half of their weekly total, and nearly eliminated RB Christian McCaffrey from the gameplan.

Maybe the same happens on Sunday against Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys. 

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Redskins OC Matt Cavanaugh takes you inside Vernon Davis' touchdown against the Panthers

Redskins OC Matt Cavanaugh takes you inside Vernon Davis' touchdown against the Panthers

With NFL RedZone, All-22 footage and GamePass, it’s literally never been easier to access information about your favorite teams and players. Still, nothing can quite beat the actual players and coaches, especially those who drew up those plays in the first place.

Redskins offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh was happy to share some insight on the touchdown pass Alex Smith threw to Vernon Davis to kick off the scoring against the Panthers in Week 6. 

The Redskins took over possession after a Carolina turnover, and the offense was ready to strike quickly. Smith found Davis wide open in the end zone and connected with his longtime tight end to give the ‘Skins an early 7-0 lead.

Interestingly, as Cavanaugh points out, the play was designed to clear out space for the team’s top tight end, Jordan Reed. Instead, the Panthers safety rolled towards Reed, who is generally seen as the more likely receiving threat. You can see in the video of the play that Smith does look towards Reed first, and then noticed the rolling safety leaving Davis wide open down the seam.

Cavanaugh also emphasizes how vital it is for the offense to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

“When we’re not on the field and the defense creates a turnover and all of a sudden we’re back out there, we gotta be ready to score, particularly when we get the ball in that great field position. It’s huge, it obviously set the tone for the rest of the game for us.”

A one play, 22-yard drive certainly does show off an offensive unit ready to score quickly and without the benefit of a long possession to get into rhythm.

Hopefully Cavanaugh doesn’t give away too many of his X’s and O’s secrets, but it’s always fascinating to experience a behind-the-scenes look at important plays. It’s even more fun when those plays are of Redskins touchdowns, and it’s the most fun when those plays are of Redskins touchdowns that come in Redskins victories.