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Gruden on unheralded CB Dunbar: 'He’s going to be a good one'


Gruden on unheralded CB Dunbar: 'He’s going to be a good one'

One of the biggest surprises of the Redskins’ 2015 season was, without a doubt, the emergence of rookie wide-receiver-turned-cornerback Quinton Dunbar.

But now that he’s established himself as an NFL-caliber player, the stakes will be even higher in 2016.

Coach Jay Gruden said recently that Dunbar got by last season thanks to raw athleticism, instincts and fearlessness. This coming fall, Gruden added, he must polish his technique and add another layer of sophistication to his understanding of the position in order to take the next step.

“When I saw him one-on-one against [Odell] Beckham [Jr.] and Dez [Bryant], the first couple times I kind of closed my eyes and just listened for the cheers,” Gruden joked about putting Dunbar on some of the league's top receivers. “But the more you watched him, the more confident he got and I think he was just raw enough to where he didn’t really realize who he was covering. He just went out there and covered them.”

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By the second half of last season, Dunbar wasn’t just getting spot duty at cornerback. He was playing a lot. In fact, his 267 regular season snaps ranked third among rookies on defense (behind only Kyshoen Jarrett and Preston Smith).

Dunbar played a pivotal role in one of the Redskins’ biggest wins of the season—their 20-14 triumph over the Giants in late November. He picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to preserve a 17-0 second half lead, and finished with a career-high two defended passes.

This offseason will be an important one for Dunbar, who transitioned from wide receiver to cornerback a week into training camp last summer. This year, he’ll be in the defensive backs’ meeting room from Day 1.

The Redskins’ roster at corner currently includes Bashaud Breeland, Chris Culliver, Will Blackmon, Dunbar and inexperienced players Jeremy Harris, Deshazor Everett, Dashaun Phillips and Al Louis-Jean. Culliver is recovering from major knee surgery and will miss the offseason, while Blackmon and Everett could get some time at safety. So, indeed, there’s a good chance Dunbar will get a ton of valuable reps over the next few months.  

“He’s obviously a very talented guy. He’s long and he’s disruptive and he can run,” Gruden said. “So I think he’s going to get better and better the more he learns the system. There’s certain things he still has to develop. He's got to know how to play the bunches and the clusters and all that stuff. And handle motions and communication, but for the most part I think he’s got the chance to be a really good one.”

As much confidence as Gruden has in Dunbar’s ability to keep improving, he still can’t quite wrap his mind around what the undrafted Florida product managed to do a year ago.

“For him to be thrust into action and play a significant amount of plays that he did, I think is unheard of,” Gruden said. “To never play corner in your life, now all of a sudden you’re playing on Monday Night Football covering Dez Bryant, I don’t think that’ll happen again. But we’re glad it worked out for him and he’s going to be a good one.”

MORE REDSKINS: McCloughan on Galette's recovery: 'It’s going to be interesting'

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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.