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How safe will RG3 play it?

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How safe will RG3 play it?

What: Vikings (4-1) vs. Redskins (2-3)
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
TV: Fox WTTG-5
Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet 3 and 7

The big question this week is whether Robert Griffin III will be cleared by doctors to play after leaving last week’s game with the first concussion of his NFL career.

But the bigger question is this: Did the rookie quarterback – and face of the Redskins – learn a valuable lesson about avoiding similarly perilous situations in the future?

What’s going to happen the next time Griffin is flushed from the pocket and he has a hulking linebacker bearing down on him?

Will he slide or slink out of bounds?

Will he toss the ball into the stands? 

Or will he again put ego before team, attempt to add another highlight to his vast collection and leave himself vulnerable to a season-or career-altering blow?

What’s ironic about the hit, it came on an afternoon in which Griffin was not a significant part of the ground attack. In fact, Griffin’s rushing attempts have plummeted each the past three weeks, from a season-high 13 against the Bengals to eight vs. the Buccaneers to just one against the Falcons.

Since returning to practice on Wednesday, Griffin has said all of the right things. If he’s given the go-ahead by an independent neurologist to suit up against the Vikings, we’ll find out if he meant it.

“If you have to live to play another down,” he said, “you live to play another down.”

Redskins’ fans had better hope Griffin’s 180-degree turnabout from the bravado he expressed earlier this season wasn’t just lip service. The entire offense is predicated on Griffin lining up behind the center and, as last week’s loss emphasized, rookie backup Kirk Cousins is not ready to be a starter in the NFL. (Cousins threw a touchdown, but he also tossed two interceptions – double Griffin’s total – in only 13 snaps.)

“It’s about being smart,” Griffin said of punishing hit he absorbed. “It’s a learning experience for me.”

Griffin has adjusted to the speed and complexity of professional defenses faster than most anticipated. And, as a direct result, he’s ascended from Heisman Trophy winner to NFL star quicker than expected as well. But how long will it take for him to embrace the self-preservation tactics all successful dual-threat quarterbacks eventually learn?

Right now, it’s arguably the most important question facing the franchise. 

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

1) Running back Adrian Peterson is the biggest star on Minnesota’s roster. Wide receiver Percy Harvin, however, might be the Viking’s most dangerous -- and the league’s most versatile -- weapon.

Harvin can line up in the slot, split wide, in the backfield and as a kick returner. He’s racked up 407 receiving yards, of which a league-leading 329 have come after the catch, according to STATS Inc.

The Redskins defense, meantime, ranks second to last in passing yards against (329 per game) and last in passing touchdowns allowed (13).

In last week’s 30-7 victory over the Titans, Harvin lined up as a running back and took an inside handoff from Christian Ponder and powered his way into the end zone from four yards out. Two quarters later, Harvin lined up in the slot, eluded two would-be tacklers and turned a routine bubble screen into a dazzling 10-yard touchdown.

“They find different ways to utilize his talent,” safety Madieu Williams said. “You always have to be aware of where No. 12 is.”

2) The Redskins will turn to their third kicker in two seasons against the Vikings after releasing the struggling Billy Cundiff on Tuesday and signing the talented but untested Kai Forbath.

Forbath was named college football’s top kicker in 2009 and the 25-year-old possesses a strong leg. But he’s never kicked a field goal in a regular season NFL game and did not kickoff during his four years at UCLA. 

Adding to the challenge Forbath faces: he’s had only five days to develop a rhythm with long snapper Justin Snow and holder Sav Rocca.

“We need him to make field goals for us,” special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander said. “We’re not a good enough team to miss opportunities to put points on the board.”

Cundiff missed five of his 12 attempts.

3) Is this the week the Redskins snap their losing streak at home? It’s reached an epic eight consecutive games and is the longest such drought in the NFL, dating back to Sept. 18, 2011.

Six of those defeats, however, have come by seven points or fewer, including last December’s 33-26 loss to the Vikings.

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the season

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the season

The news about Arie Kouandjio’s quad injury didn’t sound good when NBC Sports Washington broke it a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t sound any better when Jay Gruden said that they were seeking a second opinion. 

And now we have word that Kouandjio will be out for the season, per multiple media reports. While there was some initial hope that he might be able to play at some point this season, he is likely to be put on injured reserve soon. 

The corresponding move is expected to be the signing of guard Isaiah Williams, per JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. He spent training camp with the Redskins in 2016 and 2017 before being released in the final cuts. Last year he also spent time with the Chiefs and the Colts but he has yet to appear in an NFL game. 

At worst, the Redskins have lost their starter at left guard. Kouandjio was set to compete with Shawn Lauvao for that job. Lauvao, who has been the starter at left guard going into the season for each of the last four years, would have been tough to unseat, but the 26-year-old Kouandjio may have had the inside track.

And at best, the Redskins lost experienced depth. Last year, when injuries hit hard along the offensive line, Kouandjio was re-signed and he started six games. It’s tough to lose experienced depth before the players even put pads on.

We will see if the Redskins make a move to shore up the guard position. Over the next couple of weeks, teams will be evaluating their veteran players and their rookies to see if they have younger and cheaper options. That could lead to some serviceable players getting released or some quality options being put on the trading block. 

The Redskins likely are set to get four compensatory draft picks in 2019, which would give them a total of 11 selections. They certainly could afford to deal one of those picks if they are offered a chance to upgrade at left guard. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

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 @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, defense

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Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, defense

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

Defensive line

—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. 

Inside linebackers

—​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. 

Outside linebackers

—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. 

Cornerbacks

—I think Josh Norman will the dancing in the end zone at some point 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. 

Safeties

—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.

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—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. 

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