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Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Bears

Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Bears

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 23, one day before the Washington Redskins visit the Chicago Bears.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No availability, team travels to Chicago

Days until: Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 1; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 9; Wild card playoff round starts 15

Injuries of note:
Did not practice:
LB Cravens (upper arm), CB Dunbar (concussion), TE Reed (shoulder)
Limited: LB Compton (knee), OLB Kerrigan (elbow), DE Baker (ankle)
Thursday injury report

Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Bears

QB Kirk Cousins—The Bears don’t have an explosive offense but there is no reason to think that they can’t score somewhere in the twenties against the Redskins defense. It will be up to Cousins to get the team up to a score near the thirties to win the game. The weather will be chilly but with no precipitation and minimal winds he should be able to move the ball through the air.

RB Rob Kelley—As noted here yesterday, the Bears’ rushing defense is among the worst in the league. Nobody is blaming Kelley for averaging less than a yard per carry last week; it was clear that he had no running room. But he needs to have a good game. He hasn’t had a 100-yard game since they played the Packers and if he wants to put a lock on the job for next year, or at least strengthen his claim to it, he needs a strong finish to the season. Assuming the line can create some running room for Kelley, he needs to maximize it.

TE Vernon Davis—It doesn’t look like Jordan Reed is going to play or if he does he will be very limited like he was the last two weeks. In any case, Davis will play a big role and he needs to hold on to the ball. He had two drops against the Panthers per Pro Football Focus and I think he could have been hit with a couple more. That needs to change.

OLB Preston Smith—In the last two weeks he has just three hurries on his ledger; no hits, no sacks. It was in Week 16 that he really broke out last year, recording three sacks against the Eagles. Maybe he can do it again.

DE Chris Baker—When he’s on this list it’s usually about getting a pass rush. And while that will be important his main task will be to disrupt along the line and make it hard for Jordan Howard, who already has over 1,000 yards this season, to find running room.

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Redskins seek to add linebacker depth by signing Gary Johnson

Redskins seek to add linebacker depth by signing Gary Johnson

The Redskins added some linebacker depth Saturday afternoon by signing former Texas LB Gary Johnson, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported.

Johnson, 23, was released by the Kansas City Chiefs back in June following mandatory minicamp.

This signing immediately addresses a position of need as Washington's linebacker room is banged up. Reuben Foster was ruled out of the entire season due to a torn ACL he suffered in May, Josh Harvey-Clemmons is going through concussion protocol while strengthening an ailing knee, and Shaun Dion Hamilton is still questionable with a chest injury. 

In his two seasons at Texas, Johnson tallied 147 tackles, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and two pass breakups in 23 games.

Johnson took to Twitter to celebrate his latest opportunity in the nation's capital: 

Johnson's Twitter profile also features the statement "I Hate QB's & RB's."

It's fair to say the Redskins are always on the lookout for defensive guys with that mentality. 

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Stock Up, Stock Down: Montae Nicholson and Samaje Perine going in opposite directions

Stock Up, Stock Down: Montae Nicholson and Samaje Perine going in opposite directions

The Redskins lost to the Bengals Thursday night at FedEx Field, but in the preseason, final results don't really matter. What matters comes in individual and group performances, particularly among first-team units.

In that vein, the Redskins starting defense looked strong against Cincinnati. Outside of some dumb and wacky penalty calls, the starting defense barely gave up any first downs. A number of players impressed on that group, so let's start with the stocks trending in the right direction. 

Stock Up

  • Montae Nicholson - The 96-yard interception return for a touchdown was an impressive display of playmaking ability and speed, but more than that, it was the culmination of a strong offseason and training camp. For the Redskins to be a Top 10 defense, Nicholson needs to be the hard-hitting stud that Washington fans saw glimpses of as a rookie in 2017. Last year was a lost season for Nicholson, who dealt with injuries, getting benched and legal troubles. 2019 is a new start, and so far, it looks quite good. 
  • Adrian Peterson - Not that a first-ballot Hall of Famer really needs preseason validation, but when Peterson ripped off a 26-yard run in the first quarter against the Bengals it became pretty obvious he's ready to go for 2019. And it's important too as second-year back Derrius Guice still isn't cleared for competition. 
  • Robert Davis - Another week, another long touchdown. If there's a handbook to show how to force your way onto a roster, Davis is reading from it. 
  • Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne - These dudes are beasts. 

Despite the good news, there was bad news too. Here's that list:

Stock Down

  • Samaje Perine - Five carries for one yard against Cincy. You read that right. That comes after a poor showing in pass protection in the preseason opener. Jay Gruden always sings praises of Perine but hasn't after the last two preseason games. Prior to Shaun Wilson's ankle injury, he seemed like a guy that could really push for Perine's roster spot. Could that be Byron Marshall now?
  • Paul Richardson - The speedster wideout missed the Bengals game, and the word from one Redskins coach was "he's hurt." Many players get held out of preseason action with slight injuries, stuff they would play through in the regular season. That's not the deal with Richardson. He needs to get right. 
  • Cole Holcomb - If you can't make the club in the tub, Holcomb needs to get back on the field. While he's not in actual roster danger because of the growing number of injuries at inside linebacker, Holcomb is dealing with an AC joint issue. Linebackers need their shoulders, and Holcomb missed a valuable opportunity against the Bengals with presumed starter Shaun Dion Hamilton already out for that game. 
  • Nate Kaczor - The Redskins new Special Teams coach is off to a rough start. In two preseason games Washington has already given up two punt return touchdowns, and against the Bengals, kicker Dustin Hopkins missed an extra point and a field goal. Special teams are tricky in the preseason. In the regular season with 53-man rosters, starting players land on special teams. In the preseason with 90-man rosters, it's largely a collection of players that won't make the final roster lining up on special teams. Still, ugly start. 

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