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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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Report: Bill Callahan to join Browns' staff as offensive line coach

Report: Bill Callahan to join Browns' staff as offensive line coach

Bill Callahan was not unemployed for long.

The former Redskins offensive line coach, who served as Washington's interim head coach in 2019 after Jay Gruden was fired following an 0-5 start, is joining the Cleveland Browns staff, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

The 63-year-old will reportedly serve as the Browns' offensive line coach, a title he has over two decades of coaching experience of.

Callahan served as the Redskins offensive line coach from 2017-2019. He worked his way up the coaching ranks in both college and the NFL as an offensive line coach for over a decade before the Raiders hired him as offensive coordinator in 1998. He was later promoted to head coach in 2002 and spent two seasons at the helm before leaving for the same position at Nebraska.

After a four-year tenure as head coach at the University of Nebraska ended in 2007, Callahan returned to the NFL as an offensive line coach for the Jets. He spent the next 12 years as an offensive line coach for three different NFL teams before he was named the Redskins interim head coach in October.

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Scott Turner won the Redskins offensive coordinator job over Kevin O'Connell, per source

Scott Turner won the Redskins offensive coordinator job over Kevin O'Connell, per source

There has been plenty of speculation as to why new Redskins head coach Ron Rivera decided to hire Scott Turner as offensive coordinator, and now a source tells NBC Sports Washington the answer is simple. 

Turner won the job competition. 

Many expected 2019 Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell to maintain his position when the team hired Rivera as their new head coach earlier this month. That didn't happen. 

As Rivera moved quickly to assemble his coaching staff, the biggest question seemed to be running the offense and working with second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Rivera interviewed O'Connell and Turner for the job, and asked to interview former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. 

Shurmur declined the interview, and at that point, a source explained that Rivera then made his decision to go with Turner over O'Connell. 

So why Turner? 

Both candidates got their first experience calling plays last year after an in-season firing to the head coach. The results weren't great for either coach, but Turner's game plans involved more play action passing than O'Connell. 

Turner's resume working with Cam Newton and Teddy Bridgewater mattered, as did the plan Turner presented for working with Haskins. 

It's important to note that Rivera had years of experience working with Turner, as well as his father Norv Turner. That mattered too, and one source explained Rivera "believed" in Turner. 

While O'Connell landed in a strong spot as offensive coordinator for the Rams, he won't be calling plays. Coaches don't like giving up control, particularly offensive coaches giving up play calling. For O'Connell, maybe that will change in LA, but it will take time. 

Some Redskins fans have a bad habit of assuming the worst. That maybe Turner got the job because O'Connell passed on it. That's not the case, per multiple sources.

Ron Rivera wanted his guy, and that's why Turner got the job. 

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