Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 15, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.
—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.
Tandler on Twitter
A year ago the #Redskins were 6-7 and that was good enough to be in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East.— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) December 14, 2016
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