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OPEN THREAD: New plan to keep Jordan Reed healthy?

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OPEN THREAD: New plan to keep Jordan Reed healthy?

In between talk of a big-time brawl with the Houston Texans, and before he confessed his favorite yoga pose, Redskins coach Jay Gruden provided some very interesting information in his Monday afternoon press conference: The Redskins plan on starting Niles Paul at tight end this fall. Paul worked very hard in his four-year career with Washington to develop from a college receiver to an NFL tight end, and it's good the Redskins brass wants to reward Paul. It is possible, however, that the move to give Paul more reps with the first team offense represents something else entirely.

"He is one of our strongest players. He is self-made," Gruden said of Paul. "He’s a very complete player right now. Hats off to him for putting the work in."

Hats off to Paul indeed, a nice guy and hardworker the Redskins need on the roster. But the honest truth here could be the Redskins want to expose third-year tight end, and elite pass-catcher, Jordan Reed to less blocking, trying to keep him healthy. Right?

"When you are talking about your base offense where you go one fullback, one running back and one tight end where the running game and pass blocking is very important for that guy, Niles has emerged as the starter," Gruden said. "Jordan [Reed] will play a lot in our three-receiver sets, one-tight-end set, obviously. He is probably the starter in that particular group."

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This is not to suggest Paul has not improved drastically as a pass-catcher. He has. Last season in his first chance at extensive work at the position, Paul registered career highs with 39 catches and more than 500 yards. But Paul received more opportunity because Reed was again injured, a common theme in his two years with the Redskins. Paul's career numbers came with him playing in all 16 games and starting seven. Reed, who started just two games and played in parts of 11, still managed 50 catches for 465 yards. 

"When we go two tight ends it will be Niles and Jordan. We change personnel so often, they will both get a lot of playing time," Gruden said.

Promoting Paul's role could be a deft move by Gruden. The coach knows the talent Reed has, and if less blocking duties are placed on the third-year Gator, perhaps he can get through a full season for the first time in his career. It's also smart for the Redskins to plan on Paul being their horse at tight end, as Reed has played just 20 of 32 games in his career. Paul has also worked hard to add more upper body strength, which will help with more blocking duties.

As the tight end position continues to increase in importance throughout the NFL, the Redskins are well positioned to deploy Paul and Reed this fall. If an increased role for Paul means more games for Reed, it helps even more.

Will the plan work? Can Paul handle the additional reps? Will it keep Reed healthy? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.

 

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NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

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NFL implementing significant changes to kickoff rules in 2018 season

The NFL is not eliminating kickoffs altogether for the 2018 season. But at the NFL spring meetings in Atlanta, Ga., owners did agree to make significant changes to the third phase of football.

The NFL's new kickoff rules begin with having five players on each side of the ball (previously they could line up six on one side). Also, they cannot line up more than 1-yard from the restraining line, which is the line where the ball is placed on the tee. This prohibits the kickoff team from getting a running start downfield. 

At least two players must be lined up outside the yard-line numbers and at least two players lined up between the numbers and the hash mark. In years past, three players had to be lined up outside the inbounds line with one outside the yard-line number. At least eight players need to be in the 15-yard "setup zone," leaving three players outside of the "setup zone." Before, all kickoff return players had to be behind their restraining line. These changes will place players closer to where the ball is kicked in order to reduce speed and the amount of space on the play. 

Wedge blocks are no longer allowed. Players who were initially lined up in the "setup zone" are the only ones who can now come together for a double-team block. In the past, only 2-man wedge blocks were allowed and could take place on the field anywhere. The purpose of this change is to limit the possible blocking schemes by the kickoff return team. 

No player on the receiving side of the ball can cross the restraining line or block in the 15-yard area from the kicking team's restraining line until the ball is touched or hits the ground. Before, the receiving team could move past their restraining line and block as soon as the ball was kicked. This change gets rid of the "jump-set/attack" block.

Finally, a ball will be considered dead if it's not touched by the receiving team and touches the ground in the end zone. In the past, the ball was dead once it was downed in the end zone by the receiving team. This change means there's no requirement for the kickoff returner to down the ball in the end-zone. 

If that was a lot to dissect, check out the video below. 

In addition to new kickoff rules, ejections are now reviewable. In March, a rule passed that officials can make an ejection after a replay, but not they can also undo an ejection after a replay. 

The league also adjusted the official language for Use of a Helmet rule. 

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