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Can the Redskins D-line win its matchup against the Rams?


Can the Redskins D-line win its matchup against the Rams?

Much of the focus at FedEx Field on Sunday will be on the Rams’ defensive line, perhaps the best in the game end to end, going against the Redskins’ offensive line, a group that got off to a pretty good start against the Dolphins but still has a lot to prove.

But the game could be decided by the other two sets of linemen on the field. The Redskins brought in three free agents and spend some major draft capital to try to bolster their defensive front while St. Louis will start two rookies on their offensive line. If the Redskins can stop the running game and put some pressure on Nick Foles they will have a much better chance preventing an 0-2 start to their season.

The rookies are left guard Jamon Brown, a 6-4, 330-lb. third-round pick out of Louisville and second-round right tackle Rob Havenstein, 6-7, 332 out of Wisconsin. The center is Tim Barnes, who has been with the Rams since 2011 but will be making just his sixth start. At left guard is Rodger Saffold, a 2010 second-round pick who didn’t work out after three years at left tackle.

Greg Robinson, the left tackle, has an indirect connection to the Redskins. The Rams picked him second overall in 2014 with the pick that was Washington’s final installment on the trade for Robert Griffin III. Robinson struggled early on last year but he has settled in nicely.

Nick Foles was sacked just twice by the Seahawks in Week 1 with only one of those coming at the hands of a lineman. The Rams rushed for just 76 yards on 26 attempts (2.9 yards per carry) but they scored two rushing touchdowns. The also should have starting running back Tre Mason back for this game after he missed the opener with a hamstring injury. It’s also possible that top draft pick Todd Gurley will get some carries for the Rams. 

There are a few matchups to watch here. Jason Hatcher had perhaps his best game with the Redskins in Week 1, recording four tackles, a sack, and batting down a pass. He also should get partial credit for the Redskins’ only takeaway of the game. Hatcher had both of his hands on Ryan Tannehill, forcing the QB to spin out of the sack. But he spun right into Preston Smith, who got the sack and strip. Saffold will be responsible for blocking Hatcher most of the day.

The rookie Havenstein will have a handful with Ryan Kerrigan. He had half a sack, two hurries and batted down a pass against the Dolphins.

The key to the battles in the trenches may be whether or not nose tackle Terrance Knighton will be able to play. The massive Knighton missed practice on Wednesday with a rib injury. If he can’t go the line is significantly weaker. It’s not that Chris Baker is not capable of filling in but few in the NFL have Knighton’s combination of size and athletic ability.

It seems almost certain that the Rams’ D-line will make some plays. Chances are that the Redskins will only be able to survive that if Hatcher, Smith, Kerrigan, Knighton, and company can make some good things happen on their own.  

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As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper on Monday, and with that, alarms go off around the NFL that it's wheeling and dealing season. The trade deadline hits in one week, and for teams looking to bolster their squad before the second half of the year, it's time to see what areas could improve. 

For Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, the injury situation at wide receiver means that his team could use help at the position. 

"We could probably use one more there if we could," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Asked if there was one area the team could bolster via trade, the coach explained that if wideouts Jamison Crowder or Paul Richardson could come back from injury right away, the Redskins would have no need to trade for another receiver. Unfortunately for the Redskins, neither injury situation is very clear, and some reports show that Crowder could miss a few more weeks working back from an ankle injury. 

"I think if you look at our team right now with the injuries to Crowder and obviously the uncertainty with Richardson you might want to add another receiver, but I like what [Michael] Floyd’s done coming in here," Gruden said. 

Floyd had one catch for 20 yards in the Redskins win on Sunday over the Cowboys, but he's a physical veteran that has the coach excited. Gruden also complimented what Maurice Harris and Brian Quick have done in the absence of Richardson and Crowder.

While the Cowboys struck first in the receiver trade market, more players remain reportedly available, including Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas and Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. 

Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler in Denver, but at 30 years old and with some trade value, it makes sense for John Elway to consider his market. The Broncos are 3-4 and have an underperforming offense. 

Parker was a first-round pick in 2015 but has not had a 1,000-yard season in Miami. Making matters more complicated, Parker's agent Jimmy Gould called Dolphins head coach Adam Gase "incompetent" to a host of different media outlets. Parker has only been active twice this season though he contends health is not an issue. 

Gruden remains confident that 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson will get going, and he is a similar big target as Thomas and Parker. Should Richardson miss significant time, the Redskins would lack a true speed threat.

There's certainly no clear indication that Washington will make a move before the NFL trade deadline, but as things stand now with injuries, there is a need. Remember, too, the Redskins are long on 2019 draft picks with 10 selections in seven rounds.



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A day after loss to Redskins, Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

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A day after loss to Redskins, Cowboys trade for Raiders WR Amari Cooper

The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of a playmaking wide receiver. The lack of talent at wide receiver has been evident throughout the first seven weeks of the 2018 NFL season, with wide receivers accounting for just five of the Cowboys' eight passing touchdowns.

Following the 20-17 loss to the Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys decided to make a quick fix, trading a 2019 first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for star wide receiver Amari Cooper, according to multiple reports.

Cooper, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has just 22 catches for 280 yards and one touchdown in the first six games. The former Alabama star had an equally disappointing 2017 campaign and has grown frustrated with his role in John Gruden's new regime.

Cooper will instantly become the Cowboys best deep threat and will allow Cole Beasley to shine both in the slot and spread out wide. Beasley leads the Cowboys with 33 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns.

Rookie Michael Gallup, who scored the Cowboys' only passing touchdown against the Redskins, has the second most targets among Dallas receivers, hauling in 10 of his 22 targets for 190 yards. Tight end Geoff Swaim has 19 catches for 205 yards and running back Ezekiel Elliott has 25 catches for 175 yards.

Prescott is averaging just 202.2 passing yards per game, and while Cooper may not be a true top-tier wide receiver, he is the next best thing and will allow the offense to be more dynamic in its play-calling.

Cooper will make an estimated $13.9 million in base salary in 2019, meaning the Cowboys will have to pay a pretty penny to keep him.

The move makes it clear that the Raiders are shifting toward a full rebuild. It also shows that Dallas understands it didn't have enough firepower to compete for a divisional title.