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How big a role this year for Redskins' Matt Jones?

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How big a role this year for Redskins' Matt Jones?

The Redskins knew that they were getting a big, banging running back when they drafted Matt Jones in the third round earlier this month. But they may be getting more than they thought they were.

“The thing about Matt is you think of him as a big power-type back, but really Matt has done some things out in space that have been very, very impressive – making moves on the second level, getting to the second level,” coach Jay Gruden said after the team’s morning rookie camp practice. “In the passing game, running some option routes on linebackers. He has done some good things. He has got natural hands, so we’ve been very impressed.”

Jones’ pass catching ability remains a question mark despite those natural hands. He only caught 19 passes in three seasons at Florida. That doesn’t mean that he can’t do it but his ability as a receiver against top-level competition has yet to be demonstrated.

“I didn’t really catch the ball at Florida a lot,” said Jones. “They always knew I could catch the ball but we just didn’t do it a lot at Florida.”

Jones was not just disappointed that he didn’t catch more passes for the Gators. He wanted to do more of everything in college.

“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “My college career wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I really want to have a successful career in the NFL so that’s why I’m going even harder because I didn’t have the college career I wanted.”

His rushing stat line over three years was 297 carries for 1,431 yards (4.9/carry) and 11 touchdowns. That’s a light single season for a workhorse running back. Some analysts have called the Florida offense “a mess” under head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. The Gators ranked 96th in the nation in total offense and 43rd in rushing. Both the head coach and the coordinator were fired.

“I think it was because of the offense I was in,” Jones said when asked why he was disappointed in his college career.

He believes he’s in a system that’s a better fit now. “I love this offense, I feel like I’m more downhill. I just feel like I can do what I want to.”

One of the storylines that will be followed closely all season is how much Jones plays and how many snaps and carries he might take away from starting running back Alfred Morris. After all, a team doesn’t spend a third-round pick on a running back unless they have a substantial role in mind for him.

Gruden cautioned that we have a long way to go before Jones supplants Morris in any meaningful way.

“We’ll see,” Gruden said when asked about Jones sharing the load with Morris. “That’s what training camp is for and the preseason games, and Alfred is a darn good halfback, so in order to take carries off of him, you’ve got to show a lot. So far, Matt has taken the right steps to take a little bit of the load off of Alfred. But like I said before, Alfred is our feature back, obviously, but in the NFL nowadays it’s important to have two, three guys that can carry the ball. If you want to commit to running the football, you’ve got to have a couple guys that can tote it, so Matt will just add to the number.” 

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Trent Williams was definitely not playing Sunday against Houston, but now he might

Trent Williams was definitely not playing Sunday against Houston, but now he might

On Wednesday, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams would not play on Sunday against the Texans. 

"That's for sure," the coach said. 

By Friday, the tune had changed. Drastically. 

Gruden said that Williams' status on Sunday will come down to the medical staff. The coach added that Williams has to be comfortable in whatever cast will support his dislocated thumb.

As for Williams, he would not say for sure that he's going to play. But after talking with him for a few minutes in the Redskins locker room, it seems like the medical staff will be hard pressed to keep him off the field. 

Williams missed the Redskins last two games after injuring his thumb in a victory over the Giants. Without him, the Redskins offensive line performed admirably, but both tackles Morgan Moses and Ty Nsekhe are fighting through a number of injuries. 

The thumb injury required surgery, which happened about two weeks ago and came with a rough four-week timetable for recovery. Williams is attempting to cut that in half. 

Asked about Williams possibly playing Sunday, Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said he wants his friend and teammate to be smart about his future. Peterson said "there's a lot of football left" but the running back also added that there were situations watching Texans film this week where "it'd be real nice to have Trent out there."

Williams himself said that it must be tough for Peterson, as the two are close friends. Obviously, the running back wants the star tackle out on the field, but he also cares about his long-term future. 

Notes: Redskins K Dustin Hopkins landed on the injury report earlier with a groin injury in the week and the team brought in other kickers for tryouts on Tuesday. On Friday, Hopkins said he was pain-free and planned to "give it a go" Sunday against Houston. 

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With Samaje Perine ruled out for Week 11, expect Byron Marshall to be activated off IR

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With Samaje Perine ruled out for Week 11, expect Byron Marshall to be activated off IR

The main news on Friday at Redskins Park was the surprising return to the practice field by Trent Williams. 

That wasn't the only notable development when it comes to injuries, though. 

During his end-of-the-week podium session, Jay Gruden ruled Samaje Perine out for Sunday's game against the Texans. The second-year back has a calf injury and won't be able to go in Week 11.

As of Friday afternoon, that leaves the 'Skins with just two healthy running backs in Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs. Chris Thompson is on the active roster as well, but he's dealing with rib issues and he's going to be absent when Houston visits.

This means you should expect to see Byron Marshall in Burgundy and Gold come kickoff. Marshall has been on IR with an ankle injury since the start of the year but said he's been healthy for a while now and would be ready to step in as the third back.

The majority of offensive snaps the past few weeks have gone to Peterson and Bibbs, so Marshall shouldn't figure into things too much when the Redskins have the ball. He showed flashes in some spot duty in 2017, though, so if need be, he could be productive for Gruden.

With Trey Quinn already back on the 53, if/when the team elects to bring back Marshall, the Redskins will be out of IR activations. NFL rules stipulate each club only gets two per season.

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