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Game Preview: Eagles at Redskins

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Game Preview: Eagles at Redskins

What: Eagles (3-6) vs. Redskins (3-6)

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Fox WTTG-5

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet noon and 4. 

Mike Shanahan called the Redskins’ last game a ‘must-win.’

In reality, though, this week’s contest against the Eagles is far more important to his team’s faint playoff hopes.

At 3-6, the Redskins still have a puncher’s chance of rallying down the stretch and making the postseason for the first time since 2007. But such a scenario likely would require  "winning out," as nose tackle Barry Cofield put it. Or, at the very least, winning six of the season’s final seven games.

Either way, that run must begin at home against a Eagles’ team that hasn’t won a game since September and will have a rookie backup quarterback, Nick Foles, making his first career start in the place of Michael Vick (concussion).

Historically, the Redskins have failed to beat rookie signal callers. In fact, they’ve lost eight straight games, a drought stretching back Vince Young in 2006. (Their last win against a rookie was over Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Rams in 2005, according to STATS Inc.)

From an Xs and Os standpoint, the key to preventing ninth consecutive letdown figures to be effectively disguising alignments and confusing the 23-year-old. But Cofield chose to keep it simple when asked about the challenges of facing a young quarterback for the first time.

“Complacency is probably the No. 1 issue,” the recently-elected defensive captain said. “You go against a guy who you think is going to be at a lower level. Then you go out and not play your best ball, and they look like a Pro Bowler.”  

Foles “can make all the throws,” according to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and he’ll be facing the NFL’s third worst pass defense. He'll also have plenty of weapons at his disposal, including standout wide receivers DeSean Jackson (16.3 yards per catch) and Jeremy Maclin (team-high four touchdowns) as well as tight end Brent Celek (8 receptions of 20 or more yards). And don't forget running back LeSean McCoy, who ranks 11th in the league with 705 yards and has the third most runs over 20 yards (7). Given the Redskins’ susceptibility to big plays, keeping McCoy from breaking off large chunks of yardage will be critical.

It’s probably too much to ask the Redskins’ reeling defense to shut down both the run and pass. But if they can contain one, they should have a chance. 

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris must get the Redskins’ previously potent offense going again. The team averaged more than 26 points per game through the season’s first seven games, but has tallied a meager 12 and 13, respectively, in the past two.

Whether it’s a lack of complementary playmakers, opposing defenses catching up to Shanahan’s innovative offense, penalties and other mental miscues, or some combination of the three, they’re going to need more than a single touchdown to beat the Eagles and breathe life back into their staggering season.

“The rest of the NFL definitely helped us out by having teams in our division lose,” Griffin said. “I don’t think [the playoffs are] an unrealistic goal. But for us, the biggest thing is you don’t look into the future because you have to take care of what’s in front of you.”

Here are three other areas the team at csnwashington.com will be monitoring:

1-Will wide receiver Pierre Garçon play? He’s missed four straight games with a plantar plate tear in his right foot, but he’s practiced this week like a player who wants to suit up.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan also hinted that the team is okay with their No. 1 wide receiver playing at less than 100-percent, saying, “We would definitely rather have him out there than not have him at all. We think he can help regardless of what [percent] he is.”

2-How about safety Brandon Meriweather? He reported soreness in his twice-sprained left knee earlier this week and has been limited in practice. But the veteran has been working with the first team and, barring a setback, is expected to make his season debut.

“He can do a lot of different things,” Haslett said. “He’s an ex-corner, so he can cover. He’s got good rush ability. There’s a lot things you can take advantage of – if he’s healthy.”

3-The Redskins’ margin for error on any give Sunday is slim enough without self-inflicted wounds. Against the Steelers, receivers dropped 10 passes. Against the Panthers, they were whistled for a season-high 13 penalties. Entering the Philadelphia game, the Redskins are tied with the Cowboys for most penalties per game (8.3), according to www.teamrankings.com. 

Will having last week off result in a physically fresher, mentally sharper Redskins’ team? Is this is a bad time to mention they’re 0-4 coming off the bye since 2007?

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Offense

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Various sources

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 18, 38 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—offense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on offense; defense up tomorrow. 

Quarterbacks (2)
Alex Smith, Colt McCoy

I think that Kevin Hogan is very much on the bubble as the third quarterback. They got along with two QBs last year, and with Alex Smith having demonstrated great durability during his career, Hogan may well get bumped off. 

Running backs (4)
Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Rob Kelley

I’d say that this is 95 percent locked in. Maybe Kapri Bibbs or Byron Marshall can make a push for Kelley’s roster spot but his history with Jay Gruden will make it very hard for him to get knocked out. 

Wide receivers (6)
Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Trey Quinn

The first time I did this back in April I didn’t have Quinn on the roster. That was before he was a man among boys at rookie camp and a player who looks like he belongs when the veterans showed up. I don’t know if he’ll have the impact that many fans think he will, but he’s certainly going to get his chance. Brian Quick could steal a roster spot from Harris or Davis.

Tight ends (3)
Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle

The Redskins did not draft a tight end or sign one in free agency so there seems to be faith that Reed will be healthy. We’ve heard that before and it seems somewhat risky to leave Davis, who has Father Time nipping at his heels, and the inexperienced Davis as the only two backups. They may try to make room for an undrafted rookie like Hudson Garrett.  

Offensive line (9)
Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Geron Christian, Tyler Catalina, Tony Bergstrom

I think that Gruden is probably happy with the starters here but the depth is shaky, especially in the interior. The key could be whether Christian is ready for prime time as the swing tackle. That could allow Nsekhe to fill in at guard. Bergstrom is fine as the backup center, although I wouldn’t want to have to count on him for more than a few games. 

Offensive players: 24
Rookies (3):
Guice, Christian, Quinn
New to the organization in 2018 (5): Rookies plus Smith, Richardson 
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (11): Rookies plus new plus Harris (practice squad), R. Davis (practice squad) and Bergstrom (not on the team). 

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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An Indiana state police officer tweeted that he pulled a driver over for going too slowly in the left lane. I believe this person is a national hero. 

Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 38
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 52
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 75

The Redskins last played a game 167 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 83 days. 

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

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USA TODAY Sports/@TerrellePryor

Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

Terrelle Pryor made a number of highlight reel catches last year during training camp, and it appears the Redskins defense didn't like it. 

Washington's marquee free agent signing last season, Pryor came into Richmond with sky-high expectations. Throughout the training sessions last August, Pryor put on one-handed displays at the Jugs machine and often made big catches in team drills. It's also important to remember there was never any live tackling during these drills, leaving defenders at a distinct disadvantage. 

Zach Brown remembers the scene quite well, and thinks it will look very different this summer when Pryor comes to Richmond as a member of the New York Jets. 

"That’s going to be something right there. The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now," Brown said on Inside the Locker Room on the Team 980 (full audio here).

Brown explained that Redskins coach Jay Gruden would not allow the defense to hit Pryor last year, even when the wideout did some showboating. 

"Jay ain't here to protect you anymore," Brown said.

The Redskins linebacker explained that he tried to explain to Pryor that the one-handed catches from training camp would not translate in the NFC East, where players get hit hard. It doesn't seem like Pryor listened, as he finished the season with only 240 receiving yards on 20 catches in nine games. 

"The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year," Brown said. He added, "Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm."

One incident that supports Brown's comments came when Bashaud Breeland got thrown off the practice field last training camp. Breeland got mad that he wasn't allowed to get physical with Pryor at the line of scrimmage, and the scene blew up. Breeland eventually got sent off the field after arguing with coaches. 

The Jets visit the Redskins for three days of practices beginning August 12th. The two teams then square off in the second preseason game on August 16th. 

Brown will get his chance at Pryor, assuming the wideout plays. Pryor finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve, but is expected to be fine once training camp begins in New York. 

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