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Need to Know: Pass defense key for Redskins vs. Cardinals

Need to Know: Pass defense key for Redskins vs. Cardinals

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 2, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 9; Panthers @ Redskins 17; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 22

Injuries of note:
Did not practice:
TE Jordan Reed
Limited: G Brandon Scherff (ankle), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), Bashaud Breeland (ankle_
Full: LS Nick Sundberg
Thursday injury report

Redskins vs. Cardinals
FOX, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Dick Stockton and Chris Spielman
Line: Cardinals -2.5

Redskins vs. Cardinals nuggets and observations

—The Redskins’ offensive line is a little banged up. LT Ty Nsekhe, G Brandon Scherff, and RT Morgan Moses are all suffering from ankle injuries. Moses has been full in practice this week, Nsekhe and Scherff were limited. Having multiple injuries at one position group makes it difficult to conduct a proper practice but it’s something that all teams are dealing with. It will be surprising if any of them misses a snap on Sunday, however. As an aside, this is the last game of Trent Williams’ four-game suspension; he will return to practice this week and will start at left tackle against the Eagles on December 11.

—Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ offensive line is mostly healthy with the exception of the loss of G Evan Mathis to an ankle injury earlier this year, but they have been struggling. They have allowed 33 sacks, 39 QB hits, and 119 hurries. By comparison the Redskins have allowed 14 sacks, 21 hits, and 94 hurries. Perhaps you don’t have to look much further than the line to figure out why Carson Palmer is having a bad season.

—If you are looking for a common thread in the Redskins’ wins look at their pass defense. In each of their four losses the opposing team has averaged 7.6 yards or more per pass play in each of them. When the opposition averaged less than that, the Redskins are 5-0-1 (they won against the Giants despite allowing 8.4 per pass play). Palmer and the Cardinals have gone over 7.6 yards per pass pay just once this season. Their 2016 average is 5.9, down almost two full yards from last year.

—It’s starting to look like Josh Norman might stalk the University of Phoenix Stadium parking lot, meet Larry Fitzgerald when he arrives, and follow him for the rest of the day. Yes, even in the slot, if the defense calls for it. “There will be times per call – if the call dictates that Josh matches No. 11 [Fitzgerald], he’s going to match him even if he’s lined up in the backfield,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry.

—A lot of Redskins fans wanted the team to draft defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche in the first round this year instead of Josh Doctson. The Cardinals took the Ole Miss product with the 29th overall pick. But he has had minimal impact this year. He has played in just four games and not all his games off have been due to injuries. Nkemdiche has not dented to stat book with zero tackles and zero sacks. Assuming he would have had a similar performance in a Redskins uniform the Washington defense would not be any better had they drafted him. Of course, Nkemdiche could get rolling later this year or in future seasons but for 2016 the Cardinals haven’t gotten much more out of their top draft pick than the Redskins have out of theirs.

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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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