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Don't count out any NFL team in June

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Don't count out any NFL team in June

Over the last couple of days a big theme in the blogosphere was the Redskins chances of going from last place to first place in the NFC East. I wrote about it here, playing off this NFL.com article. Others addressed the topic here and here. Along with most, I did not think that their chances of winning the division this year were very good.The Redskins, however, do not necessarily have to take the division title for the first time since 1999 to have their 2012 season be successful. Although winning the NFC East and getting a home playoff game would be great, the organization and most fans would be very happy with a wild card playoff spot this year.My friend Rafael on his Cowboys Nation blog looked at teams that did what the Redskins want to do. He found that since 1999 a total of 48 teams have gone from having a losing record in one season to the playoffs the next season. Thats an average of 3.7 per season.All three of the Redskins recent playoff appearances came after losing seasons. Prior to winning the division with a 10-6 mark in 1999 they were a miserable 6-10 in 1998. The followed up their 6-10 record in 2004 with a 10-6 wild card the following season. And in 2007 the Redskins got in with a 9-7 mark after going 6-10 the previous season.To qualify for one of the two wild card playoff spots, the Redskins would have to finish ahead of at least one of the other three teams in the division. Even with potential star Robert Griffin III at quarterback, it will be a tall order for them to beat out Dallas, Philadelphia, and the Giants, who have very good QBs of their own.But it would be a mistake to say that it cant be done. As Rafael says in the conclusion to his article:So take a good yard look at those seemingly down-trodden teams. The 4-12ers, the 6-10ers, the 7-9ers. Think they're all doomed to another year of disappointment? Think again. Some of them have us "experts" right where they want us.In today's NFL no team should be counted out in June. Not one.

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Expect Aaron Rodgers to be ready for the Redskins despite missed practices

Expect Aaron Rodgers to be ready for the Redskins despite missed practices

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not practice on Thursday. That was a second straight day missed due to a knee injury he sustained in the season opener. However, there is little doubt that he will be behind center at FedEx Field on Sunday when Green Bay takes on the Redskins

It should be clarified that no Packer practiced on Wednesday. Coach Mike McCarthy decided to cancel practice to give his team more recovery time as they played 70 minutes during a 29-29 tie against the Vikings. McCarthy cited the “unusual heat for this part of the country” and decided his team could use the rest more than work. 

But in their required injury report, the Packers said that Rodgers would not have practiced even if the team had held its scheduled session. On Thursday, Rodgers worked with other rehabbing players on a side field.

This sticks with the pattern that Rodgers followed last week. He also sat out practice on Friday before taking part in the team’s one-hour session on Saturday. 

The lack of practice did not seem to affect Rodgers too badly against the Vikings. He completed 30 of 42 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown. Even though he took four sacks, Rodgers got better as the game went on. In the second half, he passed for 201 yards, averaging 8.0 yards per pass attempt. 

Speaking to the Green Bay media on Thursday, Rodgers said that he is concerned about the knee getting worse as the season goes on. 

"Yeah, obviously that's a concern," Rodgers said via ESPN.com. "Hopefully it goes the other way though."

All Rodgers knows at this point is that he won’t be 100 percent when he takes the field on Sunday. 

"It just depends on how the week goes with the rehab and the recovery," Rodgers said. "Obviously, I'd love to be better than I was last week as far as health-wise but there's some factors that are out of my control."

Those factors obviously are out of the Redskins’ control, also. There hasn’t been any talk of Rodgers’ knee from Redskins Park this week. They are expecting him to be his usual self although his mobility may be somewhat impaired. 

That doesn’t mean that they will not try to rattle him. It’s always good to get after the opposing QB and deliver some hard hits. When that quarterback is wearing a large knee brace the target on him becomes even bigger and brighter. 

The Redskins’ pass rush has not been very effective so far this year as they have picked up just three sacks. Sunday would be a good time for Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, and the interior line to turn up the pressure. 

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Need to Know: Smith says Redskins just need to execute vs. Rodgers and the Packers

Need to Know: Smith says Redskins just need to execute vs. Rodgers and the Packers

Here is what you need to know on Friday, September 21, two days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers  

Talking points

Here are a few things heard around Redskins Park this week along with my comments. 

Alex Smith on if the offense would feel any additional pressure because they are facing Aaron Rodgers: "I think that you can get sucked into that. In the end, of course, we want to dominate regardless the offense we’re playing, of course, we want to go out there and execute, move the chains . . . It just comes through execution, though . . . The way to do that is just play good offense."

Comment: The Redskins probably will need to score at least 30 points to win this game. Since 2016, the Packers have lost one game that Rodgers started and finish where the opponent scored fewer than 30 points. But Jay Gruden can’t come up with a special “we have to score 35 points” game plan. What he can do, however, is remember what happened to the Bears in Week 1 and remain aggressive if they do build a lead.

D.J. Swearinger on defending the back-shoulder pass against Rodgers: "You’ve got to defend the receiver. The receiver will tell you if he’s going back shoulder or if he’s going [deep] based on body language."

Comment: This is a great detail here. Defensive back can get so scared to get beaten deep that they just keep running while the receiver slows down to catch an intentionally underthrown Rodgers pass. The key is watching the receiver’s eyes as that will give away where the ball is going. It’s easier said than done, but the discipline to do so is critical when playing against a QB like Rodgers. 

Trent Williams on the shuffling that the offensive line likely will have to do with LG Shawn Lauvao out: "It’s a challenge any time you have anybody who has to move positions or any guy who’s new to the lineup. It’s definitely a learning curve to get caught up to speed on how we like to do things. With Tony being a veteran and knowing the offense inside and out, Chase kicking over to guard, those are two of the smarter guys in the offensive line room."

Comment: He doesn’t appear to be too worried that Tony Bergstrom will move in at center and starting center Chase Roullier will slide over to left guard. I don’t think that there should be too much concern about Bergstrom knowing what he needs to do. But his performance in the preseason was spotty at best. We will see how the revamped interior line performs against the Packers’ quality group on the interior defensive line.

Injuries of note

Out: S Troy Apke (hamstring), G Shawn Lauvao (calf)
Limited: WR Paul Richardson (shoulder), LB Zach Brown (oblique), G Brandon Scherff (knee), OT Trent Williams (knee)

Changes from Wednesday: Richardson and Brown from out to limited

The agenda

Today: Practice 12:15 p.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2 p.m.

Upcoming: Packers @ Redskins (Sept. 23) 2; Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 17; Cowboys @ Redskins 30

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