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How Su'a Cravens was utilized as a rookie illustrates Joe Barry's faults

How Su'a Cravens was utilized as a rookie illustrates Joe Barry's faults

Su’a Cravens’ first season was filled with indecision about what position he would play, and while there were lots of reasons Joe Barry got fired, the rookie second-round pick's positioning may have played a role.

Late in the year, Cravens announced via Instagram he would play safety in 2017, despite spending nearly all of 2016 at inside linebacker. That decision came against Joe Barry’s will, per a source with knowledge of the situation, after months of resistance to the switch. 

Drafted in the second round, Cravens came to the 'Skins out of a hybrid safety/linebacker role at USC. Mike Mayock of NFL.com gave the following analysis: "Cravens is an outside linebacker-safety hybrid. He's a really good matchup with pass-catching tight ends. They asked him to do a bunch of stuff at USC. This is a really solid second-round pick."

At Barry’s direction, Cravens started the season at inside linebacker and played the position exclusively. 

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Some within the organization wanted Cravens to play safety, but Barry insisted the rookie stay at inside linebacker. Eventually, a source explained, the decision to move Cravens to the secondary was made and Barry was forced to adjust. 

Though Cravens never played at safety for Washington, he was included with the secondary position group during practice at the tail end of the season. Should the ‘Skins have reached the playoffs, sources said Cravens would have played through his arm injury at safety.

Barry wasn’t wrong to want Cravens to learn the linebacker position. For a versatile player, he should know the calls and coverages of the defense. At the same time, the Redskins dealt with numerous injuries as well as some poor play at safety, and as the season progressed, multiple voices at Redskins Park wanted the rookie in the secondary.

Regardless, Cravens stayed at inside linebacker. That decision was not what got Barry fired, but it does show a repeated flaw of the former defensive coordinator. 

Early in the season Barry was slow to let Josh Norman travel to cover opposing team’s best receivers. Later in the year, Barry kept Kendall Fuller in the slot a few weeks too long. And for most of the season, Donte Whitner was a liability at safety. Either Cravens or second-year man Deshazor Everrett deserved a shot.

Liked by his players and most who know him, Barry displayed a continued reluctance to make personnel moves, and it might have been part of Jay Gruden's decision to move on. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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Trey Quinn's thumb injury is minor, but his frustration level about it is major

Trey Quinn's thumb injury is minor, but his frustration level about it is major

Don't try and tell Trey Quinn that it's not a big deal to miss Thursday's preseason game against the Falcons, which is news Jay Gruden confirmed on Tuesday. To Quinn, it matters a lot, even if the contest itself really doesn't at all.

"I want to freakin' play," the second-year pro told reporters in the Redskins locker room. "I know they don't count, but to be honest with you, I want to get out there and compete."

Quinn is dealing with a thumb injury he suffered in warmups for Washington's exhibition opener in Cleveland on Aug. 8. According to the receiver, things got a "little chaotic" before kickoff and someone ran into him while he was catching a punt.

He explained that his hand is "progressing well" and "should be pretty healthy soon." But for a guy who landed on the injured reserve list twice as a rookie, dealing with another health issue just a handful of days away from the 2019 opener is far from ideal.

"I like reps. I freakin' love football. I don't need them, but I want them," he said. "I get aggravated not being out there. I get pretty pissed off. I'm one of the guys that likes to be out there in practice, get the reps and then go in there prepared for the game."

Quinn is one of the funnier and more laid back players on the Burgundy and Gold, and at times on Tuesday, that side came through. There were other moments, though, where he quickly shifted into a very serious tone, like when he was asked if he'd be suiting up if Thursday was a regular-season matchup. 

"Yeah, I'm out there," Quinn said. "Don't ask that question."

His sense of urgency when it comes to returning to action was evident throughout his talk with the media, and for good reason.

At training camp earlier this summer, Jay Gruden identified Quinn as a guy who had all but locked up the slot position, despite the fact that Quinn only has nine career catches to his name. The last pick of the 2018 NFL Draft is a favorite among coaches, but he's well aware that a few more health concerns and missed games could rapidly change that.

Now, this particular thumb problem doesn't appear to be a huge deal on its own. Combine it with the IR stints in 2018, however, plus the daily on-field chemistry building Quinn's missing with the quarterbacks, and you begin to understand why he's so anxious for his finger to fully heal.

Fortunately for him, he's got another 19 days before the Redskins travel to Philadelphia to open up the year. And when that date finally rolls around, Quinn hopes to have one desire on his mind.

"Come the Eagles Week 1, I want to be ready to win."

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Sorry Redskins fans, it's now officially time to freak out about Trent Williams

Sorry Redskins fans, it's now officially time to freak out about Trent Williams

In some situations, no news is good news. In the Redskins situation with Trent Williams, that's definitely not the case. 

On Monday, Washington coach Jay Gruden was asked if there was any update on the holdout that has kept the seven-time Pro Bowler away from the team for most of 2019, including all of training camp and the team's first two preseason games. 

"There are no updates whatsoever," Gruden said of Williams' holdout. 

That's big trouble. 

For the first few months, it seemed like Williams would come back. He was proving a point, showing the organization just how upset he was about a missed diagnosis on his scalp. But then Williams never showed up for training camp, and multiple sources explained Trent was serious about not coming back.

So why is now the time to really be worried? The Redskins will play their third preseason game on Thursday night in Atlanta. That's the important one, the preseason game where coaches really try to play their guys and simulate live action. 

Trent won't be there. 

"We’re preparing with the guys we have right now. That’s all we can do," Gruden said. 

At left tackle, that means second-year pro Geron Christian or newly signed veteran Donald Penn. Neither player comes close to Williams, but barely any NFL tackles do. Williams is elite, his replacements aren't, and that will become more clear than ever in Atlanta. 

But beyond Thursday's preseason game, Gruden's body language on Monday revealed a reluctant acceptance that Williams is nowhere close to suiting up in Burgundy and Gold. Early in training camp, Gruden sounded upbeat and optimistic that Williams would return. On Monday, the coach seemed defeated when talking about his left tackle (watch the video above).

"It is what it is right now," Gruden said. "He’s not here so we just have to talk about the people that we have."

In May and June, Trent's holdout seemed abstract. It was happening, but didn't really matter. Real football was so far away. 

In July, it became real. Williams never took the field in Richmond, and that was a real sign about the severity of the situation. 

On August 20th, with the dress rehearsal third preseason game two days away, Williams is not part of the game plan. He's not even a real thought for the offensive staff.

At the team's practice facility in Ashburn, Williams is a ghost. Unopened boxes sit stacked in front of his locker. There's no music being played, no jerseys being washed, and no big smile creeping out from his prime spot in the corner. 

Real football starts in less than a month, and for the Redskins, Trent Williams is not part of the plan. That's a huge problem, and now more than ever, it doesn't seem like it's changing. 

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