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Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure against the Panthers

Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure against the Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 15, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:00; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 9; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 17

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

Five Redskins under pressure vs Panthers

QB Kirk Cousins—He’s not on this list because he hasn’t been getting the job done. It’s because the team relies on Cousins and the passing game to win. They aren’t going to win with their defense and their rushing game is just OK. If they are going to play beyond January 1 it will mostly be up to Cousins and his receivers.

RG Brandon Scherff—Of course, if the passing game is going to click the protection has to be there. Scherff will be lined up against Kawaan Short, the Panthers’ best defensive lineman, for a good chunk of the night. He will need to keep Short, who has five sacks this year, from getting pressure up the middle and create some running room for Rob Kelley.

DE Chris Baker—Cam Newton is one of the biggest, most physical quarterbacks in the game. Baker is the Redskins’ biggest, most physical defender. If anyone can shake up Newton and get him off his game, it’s Baker.

OLB Preston Smith—It was Week 15 when he got on a roll last year. A sack against the Bills got him going on a tear of six sacks in the final four games, including the playoff game. Smith could be the spark the defense needs to get get going.

SS Donte Whitner—The veteran is probably going to be at least partially responsible for covering Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. He is the guy the Redskins need to stop. He has been in a bit of a slump lately. He went for six weeks without gaining over 55 yards in a game until he got 87 against the Chargers last week. Olsen hasn’t scored a touchdown in the last five games and he has just three all year. But Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz, who most fans have heard of, and Trey Burton, who nobody has heard of, combined for 17 receptions for 177 yards against the Redskins last Sunday so Olsen is going to look at this matchup as a potential slump buster. Whitner and whoever else covers him needs to keep him down.

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Colt McCoy not with Redskins for OTAs as he recovers from another leg procedure, per source

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Colt McCoy not with Redskins for OTAs as he recovers from another leg procedure, per source

In more than four seasons with the Redskins, Colt McCoy hasn't missed a single offseason workout or training session. Until now. 

McCoy is not in Ashburn as the Redskins currently work through phase one of offseason workouts. Instead, per doctor's orders the quarterback is back in Texas recovering from another procedure on his leg, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

How things got to this point between the Redskins and their quarterbacks is almost hard to believe.

Alex Smith broke his tibia and fibula last November, and then shockingly, McCoy broke his fibula two weeks later in an early December game in Philadelphia. 

Despite the broken leg, the Redskins hoped to get McCoy back for a possible late season playoff game. Washington head coach Jay Gruden explained that McCoy and the team pushed too hard to get back in 2018, and that's what caused the quarterback's setback this spring. 

"What happened was when he had the injury we were aggressive trying to get him back on the field so fast we didn’t give it time enough to heal the right way so they went back in and did a small procedure to make sure that thing is on track to be full strength by the season," Gruden explained at the NFL League Meetings in Arizona last month.

Now, McCoy has undergone another minor procedure on his leg, his third since the December injury, though the source maintains he could be back in Ashburn as soon as next week.

McCoy and Case Keenum will enter training camp competing for the top quarterback job, and the former University of Texas star is expected to be fully healthy when the team heads to Richmond. 

Of course, it's also possible the Redskins add another passer in this week's NFL Draft. Whether that happens in the first round or the late rounds, with Keenum and McCoy in the last year of their contracts, adding a rookie makes sense. 

Smith is due more than $40 million from the Redskins over the next two seasons, and Washington can only add an affordable contract on the books at the QB position. The way to do that is via the draft. 

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    If the Redskins want to trade back in the NFL Draft, one team makes a lot of sense

    If the Redskins want to trade back in the NFL Draft, one team makes a lot of sense

    The Redskins want to trade back in the 2019 NFL Draft. 

    Says who? Says Washington Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, that's who. 

    "I’m going to go on the record and say that’s a possibility that we won’t trade up, but there’s a great possibility we’ll trade back if that opportunity came," Williams said on Monday during the team's pre-draft media session.

    While trading up seems unlikely, trading back could certainly happen. The Redskins have needs - quarterback, wide receiver and edge rusher stand out - but the team isn't exactly desperate at any position. In turn, more picks could help in more areas. And more picks come from trading down. 

    "I'm not going to sit here and say we got to get better at any position, which we know we have to get better overall as a football team," Williams said.

    Rotoworld's Josh Norris explained one exact trade down scenario that could work for Washington (see above video).

    The Houston Texans must add help at offensive tackle, and the consensus has most of the best tackles taken by the 18th or 20th spot. If Houston wants to get their tackle, like Florida's Jawaan Taylor for example, the Texans might need to move up. In turn, the Redskins can offer their 15th pick to Houston in exchange for the 23rd spot and an additional pick later in the draft, perhaps as high as a third. 

    At 23, the Redskins can get their pick of a number of need positions, like left guard, wide receiver or cornerback. 

    "That's where those talents match up with the value," Norris said. 

    That makes sense, as there isn't a wideout or guard that demands to be taken at 15, but could match the Redskins' draft board eight picks later. Maybe a guy like Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown or Boston College OL Chris Lindstrom specifically.

    There's also the quarterback spot. 

    There are four rookie passers projected to be first round picks: Kyler Murray, Drew Lock, Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones. It seems possible Jones would be there at 23.

    Two other names to watch, particularly if a trade down scenario emerges for the Redskins. 

    Norris suggested the Redskins like Maryland safety Darnell Savage, and he is gaining momentum as a possible late first-round selection. 

    Additionally, one NFC scout told NBC Sports that he would not be shocked if West Virginia QB Will Grier sneaks into the end of the first round. Remember, first-round contracts automatically carry a team fifth-year option, an incredibly lucrative bonus considering the money some quarterbacks are making around the league. 

    Stay alert out there - it's almost draft day.

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