Tim Hightower is back with the Redskins. Now what?Although we havent heard anything yet, it seems unlikely that he will be able to participate in the upcoming OTAs and minicamp. He suffered his torn ACL against the Panthers on Oct. 23 last year. That was seven months ago and the injury usually requires at least nine months of rehab.If he can recover fully from the knee injury the Redskins would be wise to define a role for him and stick to it whenever possible. And the workhorse running back, which is what they tried to make him into last year, is not a role for which he is well suited.In his first two games with the Redskins last year Hightower carried 45 times. Prior to that the most carries he had in two consecutive games in his career was 35, when he was a rookie with the Cardinals in 2008. His carries were limited over the next few games and he did not play in the Week 5 game against the Eagles with a shoulder injury. The next week he was well on his way to another heavy workload against the Panthers when he went down with the injured knee on his 17th carry of the game early in the third quarter.In three years in Arizona he averaged about nine carries per game and he never missed a game due to injury. The shoulder injury might be an indication that he was being overworked. The ACL, of course, could happen to anybody.Hightower might be able to handle more than nine carries per game but it seems that it would be wise to hold his rushing attempts down well under 20 per game.Hightower excels in pass protection and with rookie starter Robert Griffin III at quarterback, those skills will be welcome. He caught 63 passes out of the backfield in 2009 so there is some more ability that the Redskins can take advantage of. That doesnt mean that he should be relegated to duty as strictly a third-down back but his carries do need to be limited.The same holds true for Roy Helu Jr., who was the teams prime back in the latter half of the season until he wore down under workloads of 25 carries per game.If Griffin is going to have a successful rookie season, the Redskins will need to run the ball often and they will need to run it well. There should be about 500 carries or more for Hightower, Helu, Evan Royster and possibly rookie Alfred Morris to split up. If that can be done in a way that maximizes the effectiveness of all of the backs and has the right back in the game in the right situation, the Redskins should improve their 25th-ranked rushing game and Griffin will have a shot at reaching his potential.
Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 22, 66 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
Redskins player one-liners, defense
A few weeks ago, I did an early projection of the Redskins’ 53-man roster on offense and defense. As the team gets ready for OTAs here is a comment on each player expected to make the team on defense; the offense was up yesterday.
—Even though he played just 159 snaps last year before getting injured, the experience that Jonathan Allen gained in the offseason and training camp last year will help him get off to a strong start this season.
—Daron Payne will improve as the season goes on but he should be of some help stopping the run, the team’s most glaring weakness, right off the bat.
—Matt Ioannidis could play his way into an early contract extension a year from now, something nobody saw coming a year ago.
—Last year Anthony Lanier played a little over half a season’s worth of snaps and got 5.0 sacks so I’ll put his over/under for this year at 7.5.
—I think many fans see “Redskins veteran free agent D-lineman” and associate “bust” but Stacy McGee played pretty well last year.
—Will Tim Settle be in at nose tackle for the first snap in Week 1?
—The coaches would like to be able to keep Ziggy Hood on the roster, but injuries and other issues could make him a victim of the roster numbers game.
—Zach Brown struggled a bit before injuries forced him out of the last three games, but he still finished in the top 10 in the NFL in tackles.
—The team re-signing Mason Foster in late January was a low-key but potentially very impactful move.
—After getting cut and then returning in November last year, Zach Vigil probably will be employed with the Redskins for all of the 2018 season.
—It will be interesting to see how much the Redskins try to get out of converted safety Josh Harvey-Clemons as a nickel linebacker this year.
—The Redskins moved up in the sixth round to draft Shaun Dion Hamilton, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he has a regular role on defense before the season is out.
—All Preston Smith needs to do to hit it big in free agency is add a few sacks to his 2017 total and get a few more takeaways.
—Ryan Kerrigan already got paid, he’s a few more good years away from making the Redskins Ring of Fame.
—I predict that Ryan Anderson gets his first NFL sack in Week 2 against the Colts.
—You usually think of outside linebackers rotating in when it’s the nickel defense, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Pernell McPhee be a regular in short-yardage situations.
—I think Josh Norman will the dancing in the end zone at some this season; he is long overdue to get a pick six (or a pick of any sort for that matter).
—The first time I noticed Quinton Dunbar playing cornerback was when he lined up against Odell Beckham in 2015.
—The success of the Redskins’ decisions to trade Kendall Fuller and to let Bashaud Breeland leave as a free agent will hinge mostly on how well Fabian Moreau plays in his second year in the NFL.
—Realistically, the Redskins can hope to get 10 or 12 good games out of Orlando Scandrick.
—And because Scandrick is unlikely to be healthy for 16 games, the ability of Josh Holsey to step in when needed will be critical.
—If the Redskins can get a few good punt returns and 75 snaps at nickel corner from Greg Stroman he will be worth the seventh-round pick they used to draft him.
—With a year in the defense under his belt, D.J. Swearinger is a candidate to make his first Pro Bowl.
—After Jay Gruden compared him to Jordan Reed, there is a lot of pressure on Montae Nicholson to stay on the field and perform well when he is out there.
—Even though he started eight games last year I think the coaches view Deshazor Everett as more of a special teams guy and situational defender than a safety they want playing 70 snaps a game.
—Troy Apke has a lot to learn and it remains to be seen if he can go from being a fast guy to being a fast NFL football player.
Tandler on Twitter
It’s one of those urban legends, I guess.— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) May 21, 2018
—Minicamp (6/12) 21
—Training camp starts (7/26) 66
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 80
The Redskins last played a game 142 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 110 days.
In case you missed it
- Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, offense
- Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap
- Former Redskin Junior Galette considering retirement
- Schedule preview: Redskins hope to gain ground in series vs. Giants
Cut bait. Sunk cost. Under water.
Whatever the term might be, all industries deploy a certain phrase for wasted money. In the NFL, that term is dead cap, or the salary cap space a team must allocate for a particular player that has been cut or traded.
In the specific case of the Redskins, the team carries more than $5.2 millon in dead cap space. Where did it come from? Who's to blame? Let's take a look.
Terrell McClain ($3.75M) - The Redskins signed McClain away from the Cowboys early in the 2017 free agency period. The move wasn't quite a disaster, but it wasn't very good. Washington gave McClain a four-year deal worth $21 million, and paid out nearly $7.5 million for the 2017 season. McClain never played well for the Redskins, started just two games and this offseason he agreed to give up a significant chunk of guaranteed money. Without that move from McClain, this cap hit would have been much worse.
Su'a Cravens ($711k) - The money isn't as big of a loss as the talent. The Redskins selected Cravens in the second round of the 2016 Draft and he showed promise as a rookie while also dealing with injuries. In 2017, however, things fell apart as Cravens dealt with a training camp injury, discussed retiring from football and eventually found himself on the reserved/left squad list for the season. Prior to the 2018 Draft, the Redskins worked a deal to send Cravens to Denver for an additional fifth round pick as well as swapping picks.
Kendall Fuller ($360k) - A promising young cornerback, the Redskins traded Fuller to Kansas City this offseason as part of a package to acquire QB Alex Smith. Losing Fullers stings — even head coach Jay Gruden admitted that — but Washington had to find a quarterback after the long-discussed Kirk Cousins saga veered toward, and eventually ended in, separation.
Matt Jones ($150k) - One of the worst Redskins draft picks in the last five years, Washington reached for Jones in the third-round in 2015. As a rookie, Jones looked like a solid contributor, but in the 2016 season he developed a bad fumbling habit and found his way to the bench. From there, things got worse, as Jones ended the season on the inactive list after a squabble about playing special teams. In 2017, Jones was cut. He signed with the Colts, where he played in just five games and was cut earlier this year. This offseason, Jones signed with the Eagles.
Arie Kouandjio ($130K) - This is a weird one. Kouandjio was selected by the Redskins in 2015, and cut by the team in 2017. The dead money comes from that rookie deal. When Washington brought Kouandjio back late in the 2017 season off the Ravens' practice squad, the dead money from the rookie deal remained. Now, Kouandjio is injured and a candidate to start the 2018 season on the PUP list or maybe even the IR.
Robert Davis ($103k) - Drafted as a sixth-rounder in 2017, Davis did not make the team leaving training camp. Even though he got signed to the practice squad, the dead money tolls from the rookie deal.
Nate Sudfeld ($69k) - A late-round developmental prospect from the 2016 draft, Sudfeld made the team as a rookie but couldn't survive cuts in 2017. Quickly signed by the Eagles, Sudfeld ended up as the backup quarterback in Philadelphia's improbable Super Bowl run earlier this year. Dead money on the Redskins cap, but a Super Bowl ring in Philly. Strange.
Tyler Catalina and Kevin Bowen account for about $12,000 in dead cap space as well.
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