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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-Panthers—Last win over Carolina a while ago

Need to Know: First look at Redskins-Panthers—Last win over Carolina a while ago

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 14, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Kirk Cousins news conference 4:05

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 10; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 18

Injuries of note:
LB Compton (PCL sprain), LB Cravens (muscle flexor), RB Brown (concussion)
Latest injury report

First look at Redskins vs Panthers

A 10-year skid: The Redskins beat the Panthers the first six times they played but now Carolina has won five of the last six including the last four straight. The last Redskins coach to have a win over the Panthers was Joe Gibbs in Week 12 of the 2004 season.

Tough going: The Panthers have a tough rushing defense. They rank sixth in the league, giving up just 3.7 yards per carry. Other than the train wreck of a game they had against the Seahawks on Sunday night a couple of weeks ago, when they allowed Seattle 240 yards rushing, they have been strong against the run lately. Outside of that Seahawks debacle, since Week 6 only the Saints have over 100 yards on the ground in a game against them. The Redskins are 2-4 when they fail to rush for over 100 yards.

Cam rocks vs. the Redskins: Yes, Cam Newton has played well in his three career games against the Redskins, completing 65 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 122.0. He could have a tough time getting it done on Sunday. Newton has had a passer rating of over 100 once this year and that was in Week 2 against the 49ers. He has completed less than half of his passes in each of the last four weeks. Newton can be dangerous running the ball but he is on pace to rush for 390 yards this year, which would by far be the lowest for his career.

Norman vs. his old team: With the Panthers close to elimination from the playoffs, the only juice this game has in Carolina is Redskins cornerback Josh Norman facing off against his old team. Norman did not want to comment on it after the Eagles game and he might not have much to say this week. While he was stunned by the team’s decision to pull the franchise tag last April he landed on his feet in Washington. There’s no reason for the Panthers or their fans to be upset with Norman. In fact, if you gave Panthers GM Dave Gettleman some truth serum he’s probably admit that he blew it, consider that his team hasn’t found even an adequate replacement for Norman and is 30th in the league in passing yards allowed.

Three and out: The Panthers are among the worst teams in the league when it comes to giving the ball away; they are 27th in the league with 24 turnovers and they have multiple turnovers in eight of their 13 games. On the other side of the coin, they also have taken the ball away 22 times, making them the eighth-best team in that category . . . I wonder if Norman will be matched up against a tight end? That’s not a serious question but tight end Greg Olsen is by far the Panthers’ most productive pass catcher with 65 receptions for 907 yards . . . The Panthers can get to the quarterback; they lead the league with 39 sacks. The sacks are spread around pretty well with DE Mario Addison leading the way with 7.5 and DT Kawann Short second with five.

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Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

The Redskins might be just in the beginning of a quarterback battle, but at Monday's OTA session, it seemed pretty clear which player would eventually win. 

Dwayne Haskins made a number of impressive throws while he was on the field, and while Case Keenum had his share of good passes too, the rookie shined. Even on the surface: Haskins looks the part of a franchise quarterback, standing 6-foot-3 and 230 lbs. Keenum is listed at 6-foot-1 and 215 lbs, but that seems fairly generous. 

When Haskins throws the ball, it zips through the air. He can go deep and has touch on his underneath routes. Keenum gets the ball where it needs to be, but there's a difference in velocity. 

Let's be crystal clear, however, that one OTA session in May will not determine the starting quarterback job. While Keenum and Haskins are both learning the Redskins offense, Keenum has proved he can stand in the pocket of an NFL game and make plays. Haskins has never seen the size or speed of NFL defensive linemen. 

"It’s a long process and I think they both handled it well today," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow and the next day and so on and so forth and I’m sure it will be a good, lengthy competition with some great players going at it."

A few, unexpected things stood out with Haskins.

Though he has a long windup on his throws, the ball gets out plenty fast. He also seemed quicker in the pocket than some of his NFL Scouting Combine numbers would suggest. Haskins certainly isn't fast, but he's not a plodder either. That said, Keenum does seem to have the advantage in squirting through the line of scrimmage and keeping plays alive. That's something Gruden really likes in his passers.

Both of the QBs seemed comfortable with their role in the competition. 

"It’s normal. I compete every day whether I’m playing football, playing ping pong, playing golf, I’m competing. I’m competing against myself. I’m competing against the defense. In the quarterback room, we’re always competing," Keenum said. "Competition makes you better and that’s what the spring is about."

Haskins sounded very tactful in his responses; respectful of the veterans already on the team in Keenum and Colt McCoy, yet also eager to get more work.

"I want to be with the best, be around the best, and compete with the best. All season I’ll be around working out with the best quarterbacks on my team," the rookie said. 

Planned or not, Haskins also seemed modest in his goals for the OTA session. 

"I didn’t have any expectations for today, I just wanted to execute. The biggest thing for me was going to play right in the huddle."

That stands out in stark contrast to the Redskins last first-round rookie passer, Robert Griffin III. Expectations for RG3 were out of control, almost immediately, and while parts of his rookie season actually lived up to the hype, that situation was not healthy or sustainable. It's smart for Haskins to set reasonable goals at this stage of his career. Calling plays correctly in the huddle will get him on the field more, and that will give him more chances to make big plays.

It's a learning process, and at OTAs, Haskins showed a willingness to start on the ground floor. In a world of egos and branding, that's a sage move. 

While McCoy was not present on the field at OTAs, he is in Ashburn. He will be a part of this competition, but he needs to get healthy soon. Gruden didn't provide much of an update when asked about McCoy, though the coach did say the quarterback should be back on the field for training camp.

McCoy knows the Redskins offense backward and forward, but without him on the field, Keenum and Haskins are learning the Redskins plays at the same time. And that means while Gruden is looking at a rookie and a veteran, neither player has much of a leg up on his playbook. 

"I think we have to grade them based on production out here every day. Every day is a new grade, every day you see how they’re developing, see how they’re getting better, see if they’re making the same mistakes over and over. But it’s a process, this is the first time Dwyane has had a chance to call plays in a live huddle and go after a live defense and this is the first time Case has had a chance to do that with the Redskins terminology. So, we don’t expect perfection on the day one, but we do expect the guys to know what they’re doing when we go out to the practice field, execute and then continue to get better each and every day."

Get better each day. Compete. That's the cornerstone of success in the NFL, and for the Redskins, how QB1 will find his spot.

"Somebody is going to rise I would think," the coach said. "The cream always rises to the top and we’re hoping that’s the case.”

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Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Reuben Foster believed to be lost for 2019 with major knee, leg injury, per source

Redskins officials fear that linebacker Reuben Foster has torn the ACL in his left knee, sources tell NBC Sports Washington.

Additionally, there is concern about a more significant injury that could include the artery in his left leg, sources said. 

Foster went down on his first snap in a non-contact drill during OTAs on Monday after stepping on the leg of guard Tyler Catalina. Immediately, Foster fell to the ground, and it was obvious he was in intense pain. He was audibly screaming and crying while writhing in pain on the field. 

Moments later, the Redskins medical staff rushed out to Foster, and within a matter of minutes, his leg was placed into a stabilizing device. He was then helped onto a cart and wheeled off the practice field. 

After practice, Jay Gruden said the team was unsure of Foster's prognosis but did say, "I’m just very disappointed in what happened in his first rep as a Redskin. He runs through the gap and gets injured."

The Redskins took a major public relations hit by signing Foster last fall, and the team's belief was that his play on the field would be worth the controversy that enveloped his signing. Foster won't be playing in 2019, but remains under contract for 2020, and Washington will have the option to keep him in 2021. 

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