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Need to Know: Norman vs. Fitzgerald looks likely for Redskins on Sunday

Need to Know: Norman vs. Fitzgerald looks likely for Redskins on Sunday

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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One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. While his record at Ohio State was impressive, Haskins didn't log many starts. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden talked about Haskins back in March during the league meetings, before the Burgundy and Gold drafted the quarterback, and said that because he played just one year in college he would need significant time to learn the NFL game. 

"You would like a guy to play more than a year to see how he’s developed over the years. Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," Gruden said. Then, "Is he going to be ready for the first year?"

After OTAs and minicamp, it's obvious Haskins has all the talent needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He's made touch throws and he's rifled balls into tight windows. At the same time, he seemed confused in spots about play calls and struggled with the speed of the pass rush. 

All of that is normal for a player with just 14 starts. But it's that number, the one year of starting experience in college, that makes one statistic stand out about Haskins. 

That's some serious company, both good, bad and ugly. 

As a rookie in 2011, Cam Newton went 6-10 with 35 total TDs and 17 interceptions, not to mention a Rookie of the Year trophy. His running prowess made up for average numbers in the pass game. The more important comparison for Redskins fans is that Newton eventually developed into an NFL MVP and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. 

For Mark Sanchez, the rookie numbers and the career comparison aren't as kind. Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs in 15 games as a rookie, though he was at the helm as the Jets got to two straight AFC title games. Still, for his career, Sanchez threw more INTs than TDs and could not keep a starting job after his rookie contract. 

Trubisky is a different deal. He's only started 26 games since being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft with a record of 15-11. He's thrown 31 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, and run for another five scores. It's hard to describe Trubisky's game. At times he's terribly inaccurate, but in other spots, he looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Newton is the sure thing, Sanchez is the poor outcome. Trubisky is still to be determined. 

For Haskins, it's not good company or bad company. With only 14 starts at Ohio State before the Redskins drafted Haskins, it's just the company he's in.


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Packers' Davante Adams has high praise for rookie Darnell Savage

Packers' Davante Adams has high praise for rookie Darnell Savage

Darnell Savage was the third NFL draft prospect profiled in our series ‘I Am the Prospect

Darnell Savage has been getting a lot of buzz since the Packers traded up to the 21st overall pick to select him in the 2019 NFL Draft, and his teammates are on board.

The Maryland star was one of the draft's biggest risers, and it was well warranted.

The Packers' Instagram account posted a video of Savage Wednesday, and his teammate Davante Adams chimed in.

“The boy gonna be special,” Adams wrote.

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BORN READY. #MondayMotivation #GoPackGo

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“He’s going to be that guy — I can tell," Adams said, via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. "We definitely got a steal." “I know we got him early, but I still think that he could have gone even earlier just based on what he’s doing out there. He plays like a vet, he knows how to practice, and he’s smart, man.

Savage will face the Redskins in Week 14 when the Burgundy and Gold head up to Lambeau Field on December 8 for the matchup against the Packers.