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Matt Jones unsure about his future but knows what he needs to improve

Matt Jones unsure about his future but knows what he needs to improve

After skipping voluntary OTAs over the last three weeks, Redskins third-year running back Matt Jones took the field Tuesday with his teammates for mandatory minicamp. 

Nobody that saw Jones would suggest he looked out of shape. In fact, Jones looked the same as he did last season, an impressive physical running back with a penchant for fumbling.

Working with the second and third-teams, Jones showed good hands and speed going through offensive drills. He also had a fumble during team drills that drew the ire of running backs coach Randy Jordan.

Jones lost the starting running back job last season largely as a result of fumbles, and the young runner knows he needs to get better.

"It's just about ball security. Ball security is job security," he said. "That's something I gotta correct and something that must be correct if I want to stay in this league."

At 6-foot-2, Jones stands taller than most NFL running backs. He runs high too, something that many coaches preach against. This offseason, Jones worked with former Redskins Super Bowl winner Ernest Byner about staying low and holding onto the ball. 


"It's about leverage, too. The way I'm built I'm not so low to the ground," Jones said. 

He's working hard for a future in the NFL, though it seems like that won't be with Washington. 

"It's not a secret anymore, it's all out there. I was just feeling it could be my last time so I come out here with the guys and get it in and it might be my last rep. Who knows? I'm gonna take this rep seriously and I'm gonna do what I gotta do," Jones said. "As far as my career is headed I don't know where I could land. I don't know what could happen in this period of time so I'm just putting my head down, grinding, getting back to work. Every time I wake up I'm expecting to grind."

After the fumbles, much of Jones' demise last season was attributed to an unwillingness to play special teams. On Tuesday, Jones said he would play specials if his name was called. 

"Didnt play it too much in college, didnt play it too much when I was here," Jones exlained about special teams. "If I'm required to, if my name is on that list, I only got one choice and that's to do it."

As for his refusal to play specials last season, Jones said that wasn't the case.

"I have no idea with that. I really can't answer that question for you. I could have played it but it wasn't my decision," he said. 

Jay Gruden understands Jones' situation, and he said that after practice the best way to get back on the field is to compete. The coach allowed that with Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson locked in at the top, and Mack Brown and rookie Samaje Perine looking like roster fits, a spot for Jones seems tight. 

"It's really a tough position to crack but I wouldn't put anything past Matt," Gruden said (full video above).

Listening to Jones talk about 2016, the story sounds a bit sad. 

"I had a great camp, good preseason games, good start of the season," he said. "Just kinda went south. Nothing else to say about it, just went south."

Thanks to a rule change this offseason, NFL rosters can stay at 90 men much deeper into the preseason. That means there is no hurry for the Redskins to make a move with Jones. Whether that would be a trade or a release remains to be seen. What seems more and more certain, especially after listening to Jones, is that his future isn't with in Washington. 


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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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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, 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. 


—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. 


—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, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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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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