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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.

Timeline

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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Report: Months after major leg injury, Reuben Foster regains feeling in toes

Report: Months after major leg injury, Reuben Foster regains feeling in toes

The Redskins signed linebacker Reuben Foster late in the 2018 season after his release from San Francisco amid domestic violence allegations. The signing caused tremendous backlash towards the organization, but in the end, it was supposed to be worth it for what Foster could do on the field. 

Eventually, charges against Foster got dropped and he wasn't suspended by the NFL. Unfortunately for him and for the Redskins, Foster got injured in his first snap of offseason team activities in May 2019, and it was a major injury. 

The scene on the field that day was traumatic as Foster was visibly in intense pain. In the news that emerged after the injury, Foster had torn multiple ligaments in his knee and NBC Sports Washington reported there was nerve damage in the leg as well. 

Now, it seems like there is finally some positive momentum for Foster's injury. His agent Malki Kawa spoke to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport: "He's got feeling in his toes, the underside of his foot, the side of his foot. The nerve is starting to fire again."

The alarming part here is that Foster had lost feeling in his toes, and for a long period of time too. Foster's injury happened last May. 

Rehabbing a knee is one thing, football players do that all the time. But nerves operate almost on their own, and some nerve damage is irreperable. 

"He's regaining feeling and power," Kawa said. "It shows the nerve is firing. When he moves his leg upward, he can feel around the ankle and the top part of the foot. That's a new thing. The next 60 days are going to be big as far as getting back to normal."

The Redskins know about scary nerve injuries. Promising rookie safety Kyshoen Jarrett sustained nerve damage in his arm in Week 17 of the 2015 season, and never played again. Two years ago, cornerback Quinton Dunbar dealt with a nerve issue in his leg and was basically lost for the year. 

What happens next for Foster will be interesting to watch. 

Kawa said the next 60 days will be important, and that timeline also coincides with more Redskins offseason work. After such a significant injury, it would be premature to make any assumptions about Foster's return to the field, and if/when that happens, his level of play. 

Foster has been seen around the Redskins training facility at times since he was signed in 2018. At various points he was using a scooter and then walking on his own with a significant brace.

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Report: Jay Gruden interviewing for Jaguars offensive coordinator job

Report: Jay Gruden interviewing for Jaguars offensive coordinator job

Jay Gruden’s absence from football might only last a few months. 

The former Redskins head coach is reportedly interviewing for the Jacksonville Jaguars vacant offensive coordinator position, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Jacksonville parted ways with John DeFlippo last Monday after just one season with the team. 
 

The few times Gruden has spoken since being fired by Washington in October, the former head coach has expressed a strong desire to get back into coaching. Gruden recently told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport he’s been “itching to do something” and “would like an office to go to,” according to Garafolo. 

Interviewing for an offensive coordinator position is not unfamiliar territory for Gruden. He spent the past six years as the head coach in the nation’s capital, but perhaps his most success in the NFL was when the 52-year-old was the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Behind the solid play of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Gruden-led offense in Cincinnati resulted in three straight playoff appearances. 

Should be be hired in Jacksonville, Gruden would have some promising pieces to work with. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew showed plenty of hope in the 12 games he started, and second-year wideout D.J. Chark enjoyed a breakout season in 2019. Additionally, running back Leonard Fournette finished with a career-high 1,152 rushing yards last season. 

Former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and former Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan have reportedly interviewed for the gig as well. 

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