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Need to Know: Davis' return a key for 2017 Redskins

Need to Know: Davis' return a key for 2017 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 8, one day before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 40
—NFL Draft (4/27) 50
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 129
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 186

Davis a key to Redskins offense

A few hours ago, Chick Hernandez of CSN sent out the following:

It’s a multi-social media post, a tweet of a message that tight end Vernon Davis delivered via Snapchat. It apparently shows him signing a three-year contract extension worth a reported $15 million in Bruce Allen’s office.

That seems like a lengthy deal for a 33-year-old player but we will see what the details look like. In any case, given the what is going on with pass catchers on the Redskins, they needed to do what they had to do to retain him.

Davis is important for two reasons. For one thing, he is the backup for the best pass catcher they currently have under contract, Jordan Reed. Besides his talent, the one thing we know about Reed is that he is unlikely to play 16 games. Last year he missed two games with a concussion and two more with a shoulder injury. There was a drop off with Davis in for Reed but it wasn’t a big one.

But even if Reed plays every game the Redskins need Davis because he is a capable receiver as a second tight end. The departures of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon as free agents appear to be imminent. While they need wide receivers to replace then they also need hands. Last year Davis caught 44 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns. They will lose over two thousand yards of offense if Jackson and Garçon walk out the door. They could ill afford to lose the nearly 600 that came from Davis.

We could see the Redskins offense transform into one that went through the outside receivers last year to one focused between the hash marks. Slot receiver Jamison Crowder, who caught 67 passes for 847 yards and seven touchdowns, is the leading returning receiver if the two free agents depart. Davis and Reed (66/686/6) will ably man the tight end spot. And they could utilize the speedy Chris Thompson (49/349/2) as a pass catcher out of the backfield more than they have been.

The Redskins still will need to hope that Josh Doctson is healthy and productive this year and they will need to get a wide receiver or two if Jackson and Garçon are gone. But with Davis back they have the core of a pretty good set of targets for Kirk Cousins to throw to.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Why did Redskins choose Byron Marshall over Kapri Bibbs? Jay Gruden reveals his answer

Why did Redskins choose Byron Marshall over Kapri Bibbs? Jay Gruden reveals his answer

The Washington Redskins released running back Kapri Bibbs on Saturday, and in turn, made a decision to stick with Byron Marshall at the position instead.

The move leaves Washington with four backs on the roster: Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. Green Bay moved quick to claim Bibbs off waivers, so the Redskins will not be able to sneak him back to their practice squad. 

Asked about the decision to release Bibbs, Washington head coach Jay Gruden explained the situation as he sees it (quotes via Redskins Talk podcast):

You know Bibbs is a good player. I didn’t release him because he’s a poor player. Perine right now is Adrian Peterson’s backup. That’s the way it is. We dress one 1st/2nd-down back throughout the game and that’s Adrian. Chris is our 3rd-down back and obviously 2nd-and-long get back on track back. The next guy I like to have is a backup to both of them kind of, and that’s Bibbs and Marshall. And Marshall, to me in preseason, showed a lot of flash, a lot of speed, he’s a little bit better on special teams although he missed the tackle the other day. 

There's a lot to take in, and some fans take exception to Perine maintaining his roster spot. Listening to Gruden and others at Redskins Park, that decision does not sound at all negotiable.

So the real competition was Bibbs against Marshall. 

"I decided Marshall’s skill set [is] something very intriguing," Gruden said. 

The numbers don't really back up that assertion, but a lot of that is because Marshall hasn't been able to stay on the field. 

Head-to-head

In parts of the last two seasons, Bibbs has been much more productive than Marshall, in large part because of durability. 

The Redskins signed Marshall off the Eagles practice squad in November 2017. He dressed in four games, rushing nine times for 32 yards and adding six catches for 36 yards, before a hamstring injury landed Marshall on the injured reserve, ending his season. 

With Marshall done, the team then signed Bibbs in December from the Denver practice squad. In three games, he piled up more than 200 total yards and a touchdown. 

Fast forward to training camp 2018, and it was clear Marshall was ahead of Bibbs on the depth chart. Marshall looked good too in the early going, before a knee injury landed him on the injured reserve list to start the season.

That created more opportunity for Bibbs, and he played well, especially for a long stretch while Thompson missed time with a rib injury. 

In 10 games this season, Bibbs rushed 20 times for 101 yards and three TDs. He also added another 13 catches for 102 yards and another TD. That's good for a 6.1 yards-per-touch average. 

The Redskins used one of their two injured reserve return designations on Marshall, and his first game back came against Houston in Week 10. In that game he had two carries for five yards, and more infamously, Marshall was the running back on the play when Alex Smith suffered a season-ending broken leg.

In four games since he's returned, Marshall has four catches for 30 yards and three carries for nine yards. He also returned two kickoffs in Jacksonville, averaging 15 yards-per-return. 

The stats don't really matter much now, as Marshall is on the team and Bibbs is in Green Bay.

Gruden picked the guy he believes has the higher upside, and if he can stay healthy, maybe Marshall will prove his coach right. 

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Jay Gruden admits Redskins should have activated Simmie Cobbs earlier

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Jay Gruden admits Redskins should have activated Simmie Cobbs earlier

Last week, the Redskins lost practice squad wide receiver Simmie Cobbs to the Saints even though Washington offered the undrafted rookie a deal similar to New Orleans. 

On Monday, 'Skins head coach Jay Gruden admitted that losing Cobbs stings a bit for the franchise. 

"It was tough because we had him in the building and he was progressing very well," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast.

"In hindsight, I probably should have activated him sooner, to be honest with you."

Credit Gruden for the honesty, and while Cobbs is an intriguing prospect, don't confuse him with Larry Fitzgerald quite yet.

It's possible he doesn't make the active roster this season for New Orleans, but at 6-foot-3 and with good hands, he is the kind of player that turns heads. 

It's easy to criticize the Redskins for rolling with low potential players on the wide receiver depth chart - veterans like Brian Quick and Michael Floyd - instead of giving the rookie a shot. It's also important to recognize that the Burgundy and Gold have been fielding a makeshift offensive line for weeks and juggling a number of other injuries, leaving the roster structure a bit of a mess. 

Even without Cobbs, Gruden pointed out the Redskins still have a number of young, intriguing WR prospects for 2019: Cam Sims, Trey Quinn, Robert Davis and Darvin Kidsy. Sims, Quinn and Davis are all on the injured reserve list while Kidsy is on the practice squad. 

The particular tough point with Cobbs is that the Redskins had an empty roster spot before their game against the Eagles. Gruden perhaps acknowledged that mistake, or even if the right time was at a different juncture, the coach didn't like losing the player. 

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