Observations or thoughts from any of these way early before training campteam practices are often couched with a reference to no pads being worn, notackles being made. Rightfully so, especially when it comes to the runninggame, so says the man in charge. "With running backs you really dont know until you put them in a gamesituation," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "Youve got a goodfeel. Its a lot like the safety position. Until you see them hit, you reallydont know if theyve got a sense for the ball at the safety position. Itsthe same thing with a running back. Can they run? Can they protect? Untilpeople are shooting at him live bullets, you dont know for sure.Obviously, the Redskins got a long look at Roy Helu Jr. last year. On Thursday,the dual threat back flashed his effective pass receiving skills, hauling in acouple of short scoring passes from Robert Griffin III. Especially with Tim Hightower (knee surgery) on the sideline, Helu is thetop backfield option, though others received snaps with the first team duringwhat was a mix-and-match team drills session. Tristan Davis' ability popped ona couple of touches, but again, no pads, no tackling - and once Hightower isback, potentially no more run for the veteran addition with the starters.As for Hightower, Shanahan said, I havent been able to see Tim practiceyet. Hes biting at the bit, ready to go. I cant tell you if itll be twoweeks or three weeks, but hell be ready for the season."I talked with Hightower as he walked off the practice field and as Iwrote yesterday, the veteran seems encouraged by his progress followingsurgery in November. However, having "never been through thisprocess", he's been hesitant to project a timeline for his return. "You know your body," Hightower said. "Im a full speed kindof guy, practice at full speed, give effort. If Im not able to come out and dothat on a consistent basis, Im not going to practice."That means more reps and opportunity for the other guys to show they areworthy of a spot on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. That's something,but especially with running backs,hardly the largerpart of the evaluationprocess.
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 15, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
The best teams the Redskins will face in 2018
This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Most of the focus will be on individuals such as quarterbacks and pass rushers, but we’re going to get started with the best teams on the schedule. These are roughly ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors.
1. Eagles (13-3, Super Bowl champs)—They were fifth overall in DVOA and the second-ranked team on the schedule. But DVOA is calculated for the regular season only and you have to say that by the time the playoffs were over that the Eagles had taken their game up a few notches over everyone else. They haven’t lost much over the offseason, putting them at the top of the heap and the Redskins play them twice.
2. Saints (11-5, lost in divisional round)—New Orleans was the top team in DVOA in 2017. After a couple of mediocre seasons, the Saints have retooled, and they will make a push to get Drew Brees his second Super Bowl ring. They play in Week 5, which means that Mark Ingram will be back from his four-game suspension to open the season and he will be alongside Alvin Kamara in the Saints backfield. They both had over 100 yards from scrimmage when the teams played last year.
3. Jaguars (10-6, lost AFC title game)—They finally made the jump after failing for the last few years as the trendy preseason pick. It was no fluke as they outscored their opponents by 149 points on the season. Their quarterback situation is far from ideal with Blake Bortles, but they are strong enough defensively (first in defensive DVOA) to rely on their running game.
4. Panthers (11-5, lost in wild-card round)—They certainly have had the Redskins’ number, winning the last six matchups, a streak going back to 2009. This doesn’t seem to be one of those fluke situations. The Redskins simply have problems matching up with Cam Newton. Carolina also is solid defensively (No. 7 in DVOA).
5. Falcons (10-6, lost in divisional round)—Even though the Cowboys ranked a couple of notches ahead of the Falcons in DVOA, I’m putting the Falcons ahead of them. Dallas doesn’t have a good enough defense to win with their running game. I’ve always been a big Matt Ryan fan and a lot more people would be too if he hadn’t been victimized by poor defense and bad play calling in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Add in Julio Jones and their running backs and you have a scary offense. Defensively they are not that good but I still like their unit better than that of the Cowboys.
Rest of top 10:
6. Packers—Almost put them ahead of Falcons, their DVOA suffered last year with Rodgers out.
7. Cowboys—Even with problems on D, still have the Redskins’ number.
8. Texans—Way down the DVOA rankings last year but they will the tough with J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson back.
9. Titans—I’m not sure if they’re ready to take the next step up but they will be hard to beat.
10. Bucs—The bolstered a defense that already with tough with Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea.
Tandler on Instagram
—Training camp starts (7/26) 11
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 25
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 48
The Redskins last played a game 196 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 56 days.
In case you missed it
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 14, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
The Redskins week that was
Is Junior Galette hinting at a possible return to the Redskins? I would be very surprised if Galette ever wears a Redskins uniform again although it would make sense for them to talk to him. I think the Redskins should be very nervous about their depth at outside linebacker. Pernell McPhee can get them some pressure, but he has missed 10 games over the last two seasons. Ryan Anderson’s next NFL sack will be his first. You can’t have too many pass rushers; the Redskins could well find themselves in a spot where they don’t have enough.
Upside outweighed risk in Redskins' selection of Alexander—The selection of Adonis Alexander wasn’t quite a no-brainer, but it was not a tough call for the Redskins to make. Torrian Gray, who recruited and coached Alexander at Virginia Tech, gave the green light so it came down to his potential and what draft pick they were willing to give up. They have two in the fifth round next year and they had three in the sixth. They might as well get one of those late Saturday afternoon picks in a year early and see what they have. We have more analysis of the Alexander pick here and here.
If Guice is legitimate, the Redskins running game could explode—With the exception of the 2012-2013 seasons, when quarterback Robert Griffin III was kicking in a lot of yards on the ground, the Redskins have not been in the top 10 in the league in rushing yards since 2008. Derrius Guice could help change that. Read the post for my in-depth look at the running back position.
Madden has a clear answer for the Alex Smith-Kirk Cousins debate—I don’t know much about Madden ratings, so I don’t have a lot to add here. It doesn’t look to me like the difference between the ratings of Smith and Cousins constitute and “clear” advantage but, again, what do I know?
Instagram post of the week
Joe Jacoby belongs in the Hall of Fame. If you’re reading this, I think you know that.
—Training camp starts (7/26) 12
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 54
The Redskins last played a game 195 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 57 days.
In case you missed it