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Josh Norman defends game plan for covering Steelers WR Antonio Brown

Josh Norman defends game plan for covering Steelers WR Antonio Brown

Although Steelers receiver Antonio Brown didn’t threaten to break any statistical records during his team’s win over the Redskins, he still had a solid night, catching two touchdown passes and making a few other clutch catches. He caught eight passes for 126 yards.

As the game unfolded and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger kept finding Brown every time he needed a key play many wondered why the Redskins were not defending the receiver with cornerback Josh Norman. The Redskins gave Norman a contract worth $15 million per season to help defend premiere receivers such as Brown.

But the game plan called for Norman to stay on the left side of the defense with Bashaud Breeland on the right side. It seemed like most of Brown’s big plays, including a 29-yard touchdown reception on fourth and one, came against Breeland.

“He’s a good corner and he got best by a great player today and some great passes that I don’t know what corner could defend.” head coach Jay Gruden said of Breeland.

For his part, Norman was not about to question the game plan.


“No, man. Like I said, our faith is trusting coach [defensive coordinator Joe] Barry, [secondary] coach Perry Fewell,” said Norman when asked about shadowing Brown. “That’s why the guys brought me here. Faith in me to do my job and not question one thing in the game plan.”

While it may be easy to take shots at the defense, considering that the Steelers put up 38 points, a couple of things should be pointed out here. For one thing, defenses rarely have their cornerbacks change sides to put a particular player on a particular receiver. As Barry explained, doing that confuses the assignments of all of the other defensive backs in the game and can often create more problems than it solves.

Also, it wasn’t like Breeland was blowing assignments and getting beaten badly. As Gruden noted, in many cases it took perfect throws and/or great catches for the plays to work. There may not have been much that Norman could have done, either.

“I mean, he’s the best in the business,” said Breeland of Brown. “I don’t take this as running under the cover. I take that as just improvement.”

Indeed, Breeland did not take cover after a rough day. He stood at his locker and answered questions from reporters for as long as they wanted him to.

The good news is that the Redskins won’t face many more QB-wide receiver combinations like Roethlisberger and Brown. There should be better days ahead but with another game coming up in just six days they need to get ready. In this league 0-2 is a disaster and a team trying to build on a positive 2015 season can’t afford that.  

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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

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NFL Draft prospect Deionte Thompson to miss combine following wrist surgery

Starting Tuesday, all 32 NFL teams will have a chance to asses some of the best talents in the upcoming draft at the NFL Combine. However, one of the better safety prospects available will be noticeably absent in Indianapolis.

University of Alabama safety Deionte Thompson will reportedly not participate in combine activities after having surgery on his wrist Friday to mend a torn ligament, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport. Rapoport did mention that the injury is not believed to have a serious impact long-term. 

Thompson is coming off a junior season at Alabama in which he recorded two interceptions and 78 tackles while earning Consensus All-America honors.

As the draft approaches, the safety is being regarded as one of the better secondary options available for teams. In NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig's latest mock draft, Thompson is projected to go 24th overall to the Oakland Raiders.

Though the projection doesn't have Thompson ending up as a member of the Burgundy and Gold, he is still a realistic option for the Redskins. With a few questions marks in the secondary following the departure of D.J. Swearinger Sr. and the unclear future of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Redskins could very well see Thompson as a viable target at No. 15.

If Thompson's impending recovery time leads to his draft stock falling, there is a slight chance he may even be available in the second round when the Redskins pick at No. 46.

Currently, there is no timetable for his return. Alabama is scheduled to host its Pro Day on March 19, which could be the next time Washington and other teams will get a chance to evaluate Thompson.


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The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected


The Redskins' free agency strategy nets more 2019 compensatory picks than expected

It's a very small consolation, but on Friday, the Redskins finally picked up their compensatory third-round pick for losing Kirk Cousins in free agency last year.

That's not the only new selection they now have in their arsenal for the 2019 NFL Draft, though.

In addition to that third-rounder, Washington also netted a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a seventh-rounder, too. The four picks is a bit of a surprise, as most expected the Burgundy and Gold would be awarded with only three.

Bruce Allen has explained in the past how the 'Skins value compensatory picks, which teams receive based on the contracts their own free agents sign with new franchises. Last offseason, the Redskins saw Cousins, Ryan Grant, Spencer Long and Trent Murphy all cash in on the open market.

In total, Washington now has nine picks in the upcoming draft, with two each in the third, fifth and seventh rounds. They traded away their fourth-round spot for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Losing homegrown players like Cousins and Co. is certainly not ideal, but by letting those types of guys depart, the Redskins do set themselves up for more swings in April. 

That part of the strategy has paid off. The next step? Making those picks count.