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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

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Jonathan Allen says '100 percent' chance he plays Monday night but questions remain for Redskins

Jonathan Allen says '100 percent' chance he plays Monday night but questions remain for Redskins

Jonathan Allen declared himself "100 percent" in for the Redskins Monday night game against the Bears. That's great news, except Allen might not have the final say in the matter.

The Redskins defensive captain and third-year defensive tackle sprained his knee Week 1 in Philadelphia and wanted to return in that game. He didn't, and subsequently, missed Week 2 against Dallas too. Washington head coach Jay Gruden explained that the team has to protect Allen, a fierce competitor, against himself. He doesn't want to miss any action, even if resting his injured knee might be the most prudent course. 

Asked what would happen if the medical staff tried to prevent him from playing in Monday's contest, Allen did not really respond but rather shake his head. 

Elsewhere on the team, there doesn't seem to be as much good news on the injury front.

The news on cornerback Quinton Dunbar doesn't seem encouraging.

"I don’t know about Dunbar. He was struggling a bit today," Gruden said after practice. The cornerback injured his knee against Philly and missed the Cowboys game. It would take some serious progress for Dunbar to play Monday night. 

The news seems even more concerning with tight end Jordan Reed. He hasn't played since sustaining a concussion in the third preseason game, and this week he practiced on Wednesday but didn't make it out on the field Thursday or Friday. At this point, the Redskins seem wise to move forward without Reed in the game plan as he works his way back from the concussion protocol. 

Further down the line, cornerback Fabian Moreau looks like he is tracking to return to the field against Chicago while questions keep popping up around safety Montae Nicholson. Gruden said Nicholson's absence was mainly for rest. 

 

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NFL bans on-field pyrotechnics after field at Nissan Stadium caught on fire last week

NFL bans on-field pyrotechnics after field at Nissan Stadium caught on fire last week

NFL pregame rituals just got a little less fiery.

The NFL has banned all on-field pyrotechnic fire machines and flame effects after last week's mishap at Nissan Stadium, according to reports. When the Tennessee Titans took the field to take on their division rival Colts, one of the pyrotechnic devices caught on fire.

Instead of going upward like it was supposed to, the flames spurted out horizontally - creating a dangerous situation for the on-field personnel. 

Fortunately, the Titans handled the situation effectively and nobody was hurt.

For the Washington Redskins, this rule change presents a quick turnaround. Washington added fire pyrotechnics to their pregame rituals just last season. 

In 2015, the then-St. Louis Rams had a similar malfunction with their on-field fire pyrotechnics when they ran out on the field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Edward Jones Dome. 

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