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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrence Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't see Antonio Brown in Week 5: Controversial star released by Patriots

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Redskins won't see Antonio Brown in Week 5: Controversial star released by Patriots

The Antonio Brown Era in New England is over.

Brown, one of the most prolific wide receivers to ever play in the NFL, was released by the Patriots Friday afternoon, just 11 days after signing with the team.

Shortly after his release from the Raiders, which preceded his signing in New England, reports surfaced of sexual assault allegations being levied at Brown. The receiver was facing charges of rape from a former trainer, and it was initially unclear how much the Patriots knew about prior to his signing.

Brown did end up playing in Week 2, his first opportunity with the Patriots, in Miami. He caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown, in addition to rushing the ball once for a five-yard gain.

Late Thursday night, additional reports surfaced of intimidating texts sent by Brown to a woman involved in a separate assault case. Less than a day later, the receiver tweeted a farewell to his now former team.

Minutes later, the Patriots announced they had parted ways with Brown. 

The team released the following statement: “The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown. We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”

The investigation into sexual assault allegations against Brown remains ongoing at this time.

The Redskins will host the Patriots in Week 5 of the 2019 NFL season.

MORE BROWN COVERAGE:

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Jonathan Allen says '100 percent' chance he plays Monday night but questions remain for Redskins

Jonathan Allen says '100 percent' chance he plays Monday night but questions remain for Redskins

Jonathan Allen declared himself "100 percent" in for the Redskins Monday night game against the Bears. That's great news, except Allen might not have the final say in the matter.

The Redskins defensive captain and third-year defensive tackle sprained his knee Week 1 in Philadelphia and wanted to return in that game. He didn't, and subsequently, missed Week 2 against Dallas too. Washington head coach Jay Gruden explained that the team has to protect Allen, a fierce competitor, against himself. He doesn't want to miss any action, even if resting his injured knee might be the most prudent course. 

Asked what would happen if the medical staff tried to prevent him from playing in Monday's contest, Allen did not really respond but rather shake his head. 

Elsewhere on the team, there doesn't seem to be as much good news on the injury front.

The news on cornerback Quinton Dunbar doesn't seem encouraging.

"I don’t know about Dunbar. He was struggling a bit today," Gruden said after practice. The cornerback injured his knee against Philly and missed the Cowboys game. It would take some serious progress for Dunbar to play Monday night. 

The news seems even more concerning with tight end Jordan Reed. He hasn't played since sustaining a concussion in the third preseason game, and this week he practiced on Wednesday but didn't make it out on the field Thursday or Friday. At this point, the Redskins seem wise to move forward without Reed in the game plan as he works his way back from the concussion protocol. 

Further down the line, cornerback Fabian Moreau looks like he is tracking to return to the field against Chicago while questions keep popping up around safety Montae Nicholson. Gruden said Nicholson's absence was mainly for rest.