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Need to Know: Three Redskins who are up, three who are down

Need to Know: Three Redskins who are up, three who are down

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 27, 30 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 177 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 75 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 20
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 44
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 67

3 up, 3 down

NFL players’ fortunes shift during the year, not only while they are player games but in the spring and early summer as well. Here are three players who are in a better situation than they were when the 2016 season ended and three who are worse off.

Three up

WR Josh Doctson—He was a forgotten man by the end of last season, a first-round pick who landed on IR after playing in two games. Nobody was sure if he had fully recovered from his mysterious Achilles problem. Since January, we saw some videos of him working out and cutting, looking like a player who never was injured. Both Redskins’ top receivers, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, left in free agency, clearing a path to a starting job for Doctson. Doctson has looked fine in offseason practices and most are anticipating a solid season for him.

LG Shawn Lauvao—One can make the case that the Redskins’ season took a final turn for the worse in Arizona in Week 13 when Calais Campbell bowled over Lauvao and sacked Kirk Cousins, forcing a fumble that the Cardinals quickly turned into a critical touchdown. Although the popular perception was that Lauvao would be replaced, the Redskins went through free agency and the draft without acquiring a serious competitor for Lauvao. He could get a push from Arie Kouandjio but Lauvao is a strong favorite to remain the starter at left guard.

CB Josh Norman—It may not be accurate to say that Norman was “down” at the end of last year. But he was a first-team All-Pro in 2015 and he didn’t even get a Pro Bowl invitation last year. Since then, the Redskins have improved the players around Norman, giving him some help up front with their first two draft picks and bolstering the safety position. His prospects for recognition after the season are improved.

Three down

ILB Will Compton—First, the Redskins offered their starting Mike linebacker the low restricted free agent tender, meaning that the team would pay him $1.8 million if he stayed and they would be willing to let him go for no compensation if they didn’t match another team’s offer sheet. Then they brought in Pro Bowl inside linebacker Zach Brown as a free agent. Perhaps Compton will retain his starting role but it seems that Brown and Mason Foster will take some snaps from him. And after his RFA experience, Compton must wonder how much the organization will value him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2018.

OLB Trent Murphy—Murphy had a breakout year in 2016, recording nine sacks. But things started going downhill for him after the season. First word came down that he was going to get a four-game PED suspension to start the season. Then the Redskins took OLB Ryan Anderson in the second round of the draft. Follow that up with Junior Galette surprising many by participating in OTA practices as he works his way back from a torn Achilles and Murphy must wonder if there will be snaps for him when he returns from his suspension.

RB Matt Jones—Yes, his “down” cycle started in London when he started his string of nine straight healthy appearances on the inactive list. But it has continued through the offseason as the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round. Part of the decline of Jones was self-inflicted as he decided to attend OTAs. That gave second-year back Keith Marshall a few more reps in the practices and he looked good. That perhaps pushed Jones from being Plan B if there was a training camp injury to a running back to Plan C or D. The former third-round pick ends up under contract with little prospect of making the team.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Week 11 results that would help the Redskins in their race for the 2020 first overall pick

Week 11 results that would help the Redskins in their race for the 2020 first overall pick

The Redskins didn't play in Week 10 but find themselves in a better position to snatch the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft entering Week 11. That is thanks in large part to a shocking Sunday that saw bottom-dwellers like the Dolphins, Jets and Falcons all pick up victories.

As of now, Washington holds the second pick in the draft and sits just a game back of the winless Bengals. However, wins by the other teams give the Redskins at least a one-game advantage on those behind them.

So, with six weeks remaining in the 2019 regular season, that first overall pick is still very much in play. 

The Redskins matchup this week can go a long way in determining how the draft order eventually plays out. Going up against the Jets, Sunday's game could be one of the last games this season in which a win by Washington wouldn't be all that surprising. After an abysmal showing two weeks ago against the Dolphins, the Jets looked much better in a win over the Giants. Still, New York's inconsistency over the season puts them on the same level of the Redskins.

When looking at the matchup from a draft perspective, it would actually be better for the Redskins to lose. A loss would keep them close to the Bengals, and even allow them to jump if the Bengals were to pick up a win. Additionally, beating the Jets would then give New York the advantage over Washington if the two finished the season with the same amount of wins.

However, it is understandably difficult to root for your team to lose a football game, no matter how poorly the season is going. A win for Washington has its benefits as well, particularly because it would potentially mean rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed signs of improvement and development as he prepares to start the rest of the year. Win or lose, there will be something good to come out of Sunday's game.

As for the rest of the action around the league, here's what could help the Redskins get closer to the first pick.

Bengals beat Raiders

Switching to rookie quarterback Ryan Finley didn't seem to help the Bengals at all as a 49-13 loss to the Ravens dropped them to 0-9. On both sides of the football, the Bengals just don't look like they have enough to match or compete with anyone.

Week 11 won't be any easier, as the Raiders are a team that is finding its footing as the season continues. At this point, the Bengals winning seems far-fetched even after all the upsets that just took place, but Redskins fans should be pulling for that far fetched results to happen anyway.

Dolphins stay hot and defeat the Bills

Miami, somehow, is on a two-game winning streak. That seems like a sentence that doesn't belong in 2019. Yes, the latest victory was against a Brian Hoyer-led Colts team, but Ryan Fitzpatrick and company are playing decently and have some confidence heading into a battle with Buffalo. 

Though the Bills are the superior team, Buffalo's offense has not clicked much in recent weeks. In the Miami heat, crazier things have happened.

Falcons build off shocking upset to take down Panthers

No game may have been more surprising than the one in which the 1-7 Falcons went into New Orleans and totally outmatched the 7-1 Saints. If that same team somehow shows up against the Panthers this weekend, there's no reason to think Atlanta won't extend its winning streak to two.

Other things to monitor

The Giants jumped from sixth to third in the draft order after losing to the Jets and are now in serious consideration for the first pick. However, a bye this week means New York can't really do much to benefit anyone else.

As for three-win teams like the Browns, Buccaneers, Broncos, Cardinals and Lions, the Redskins still hold two-game leads over all of them. So wins or losses by those squads won't immediately impact Washington's standing, though wins would make things easier for the Redskins down the stretch.

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Here are three things to look for from Derrius Guice in his return from injured reserve

Here are three things to look for from Derrius Guice in his return from injured reserve

Dwayne Haskins isn't the only young and important Redskin making his FedExField debut this Sunday against the Jets.

Derrius Guice, who was activated off of injured reserve last week, will be appearing in front of Washington's fans for the first time as well. His three previous times on an NFL field came in New England, Atlanta and Philadelphia. 

Now, it's difficult to come up with expectations for Guice versus New York, considering it's unknown how he'll split time with Adrian Peterson and how much responsibility the coaching staff wants to give him in his first action since Week 1.

However, while setting specific numbers is a bit foolish, it's definitely worth asking: What kinds of things should the Redskins and their fans want to see from Guice on Sunday?

This list of three things feels like a fair place to start.

1) Finishing the afternoon healthy

This is the most simple and also the most critical thing Guice can do in Week 11.

The second-year pro has suited up for two preseason contests and one regular season affair. In the first of those three, he tore his ACL. In the third of those three, he tore his meniscus.

At this point, there are questions as to whether Guice can be relied upon in the Burgundy and Gold's future, or whether he's too injury-prone. Those questions aren't going to be completely answered by one healthy showing, but they will fade away with each performance he starts and finishes.

2) Delivering blows to defenders

Haskins and Guice haven't been around each other a ton, but the quarterback already has a feel for what the running back can offer the offense.

"Very tough runner," Haskins said of Guice on Wednesday. "He's hard to bring down with the first tackle."

In Guice's albeit limited reps carrying the ball for the Redskins, he has displayed a willingness to take on defenders and initiate contact. There may only be a few chances to look for that in the Jets matchup because of Peterson's presence and a potential light workload, but still, there will be chances.

If Guice is willing to dish out punishment, even coming off his second knee surgery in the league, that means he's feeling like himself. And if he's feeling like himself, his opponents will be feeling like not tackling him.

3) Contributing in the passing game

One area where Guice might be able to operate without losing time to Peterson is in the passing attack. Jay Gruden was always high on what No. 29 can do there, and while Gruden and Bill Callahan have coached the Redskins quite differently, they intersect on that point.

"Prior to his injury, he was doing really well in the passing game," Callahan said Wednesday. "Being able to flex him out, move him, motion him, shift him into those various alignments where we can create a matchup with it. He's been productive as a screen back, a check-down back."

Pay attention to whether Guice is moved around in the ways Callahan mentioned, which would be a nice, creative addition to the offense. Also see if he's able to generate a chunk play or two off of a screen or check-down. 

Peterson is a legend, obviously, but if he's not getting handoffs, he's not doing much. Guice, meanwhile, per his coaches, can be effective as a receiver as well as a runner, a skillset that'll hopefully reveal itself soon.

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