Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 30, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.


Today's schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 11; Panthers @ Redskins 19; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 24

Injuries of note:
Not practicing
: TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle)
Practicing: LS Nick Sundberg
There was no injury report issued after the abbreviated practice on Monday. The statuses above are based on media observations from the early part of practice. An official practice report will be issued on Wednesday.

First look at Redskins vs. Cardinals

Do the numbers lie? The Cardinals are first in total defense in terms of yardage but teams have put up 30 points or more on them four times (compared to the much-maligned Washington defense, which has allowed 30-plus just twice). They have allowed five return touchdowns so that’s not on the defense. And they have held opponents to single-digit scores three times. Still, despite the ranking, I see this is a good defense but not a powerhouse.

Palmer on the decline: Carson Palmer was an MVP candidate last year. This season his performance has taken a precipitous drop. He averaged 8.7 yards per pass attempt in 2015, tops in the NFL. This year he’s at 7.1 yards per pass, 18th in the league. His passer rating last year was a sterling 104.6. This year it’s 83.3, 26th in the league and lower than the ratings of the likes of Cody Kessler and Trevor Siemian. Last year he led the league in five statistical categories; this he he’s the leader only in yards lost on sacks. The Redskins can’t sleep on him but it seems that they will be free to focus more of their defensive assets on stopping RB David Johnson.


Johnson on the rise: As much as Palmer has been a disappointment the second-year back has been everything they hoped he’d be and then some. Johnson is on pace to rush for 1,350 yards and to catch 80 passes for another 900 yards. But he has been in something of a slump for the last month, averaging just 60 rushing yards per game with only one 100-yard effort. Of course, he and the Cardinals are looking at this game against the Redskins and their bottom-dwelling rushing defense as a chance to get Johnson rolling.

Another tough No. 1 WR: In his late twenties and early thirties it looked like Father Time might be catching up with Larry Fitzgerald. But now it’s apparent that the he went from 2012-2014 without a 1000-yard receiving season because he was catching passes from the likes of John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, and Drew Stanton and not because he had lost it. He thrived last year as Palmer had his big season and Fitzgerald has maintained his productivity this year even as Palmer has slumped. It’s almost certain that Josh Norman will follow him from side to side; Fitzgerald has 78 receptions, no other receiver or tight end has more than 31 catches.

Desperation setting in for the Cardinals: I touched on this in a post yesterday but the fact that this is the Cardinals’ last stand can’t be overemphasized. They do have talented players such as Fitzgerald, Johnson, CB Patrick Peterson, DT Calais Campbell, and S/CB Tyrann Mathieu. These are not just Pro Bowl players; they are annual contenders to be named first-team All-Pro. It’s a dangerous team and the Redskins need to be ready to play.

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