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Is Malik McDowell emerging as a likely Redskins first-round target?

Is Malik McDowell emerging as a likely Redskins first-round target?

The Redskins offensive rebuild has been centered around a Michigan State product the past two years. Will their defensive rebuild follow a similar path?

So far, CSNmidatlantic.com's Ben Standig has released two mock drafts, and in both of those mock drafts, he has projected MSU defensive end Malik McDowell to be the Redskins' first round pick. Here's what he had to say in his most recent edition about the 20-year-old:

Stop us if you've heard this before, but the Redskins need defensive line help above and beyond everything else, especially with Su'a Cravens headed to safety in 2017. The 280-pound McDowell isn't a nose tackle, but the athletic presence could be a force as a 3-4 end or inside in 4-3 looks. He recorded 34 tackles -- seven for loss -- and 1.5 sacks in nine games before missing the last three games with an ankle injury.

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Many NFL Draft pundits had McDowell near the top of their prospect lists before this past college football season, but due to some injury issues and concerns about his effort, he's fallen down boards slightly. In December, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said his technique needs polishing, as does his consistency on each play. 

Kiper did speak to McDowell's strengths, too, though, and it's easy to see why the Redskins would be intrigued by a player with the following description.

"The talent is there," he said. "You see it. When he’s all out and he’s doing the right thing technically and he gets the leverage he needs and he’s using his hands, he can really do a job for you. And you’ve got versatility with him too. You can move him around and bring him from different areas. He’s gonna have that scheme versatility a lot of defensive line coaches want."

Plenty of time still stands between now and the draft, and McDowell's stock could rise again or dip some more after his performances at events like the NFL Combine and his pro day. Nevertheless, for a team with glaring needs on its defensive front, it would make sense that the Redskins would target him come late April, so don't be surprised if more experts continue to link him and Washington.

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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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