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Redskins 2017 roster battles: Tight end questions behind Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

Redskins 2017 roster battles: Tight end questions behind Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

The Redskins go into OTAs with competition for jobs and depth chart position at several spots on the field. Over the next week, Redskins insiders Rich Tandler and J.P. Finlay look at how these competitions stand right now and they each make the case for a potential winner.

3rd Tight End

Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are roster locks. Reed is arguably the best pass catching tight end in football, and Davis is much more than a veteran backup. The duo give Jay Gruden a myriad of options in the team's two tight end sets, and create matchup problems for linebackers and safeties.

After Reed and Davis, the depth chart gets interesting. Derek Carrier and Niles Paul both saw action last season but have each been dealing with injuries. Carrier opened the 2016 season on the PUP list, and Paul was sent to IR after a gruesome injury Week 8 in London. 

Washington has only carried three tight ends on its roster for the last several years, which already makes for a logjam at the position. Drafting Jeremy Sprinkle out of Arkansas in the fifth round creates even more competition behind Reed and Davis. Sprinkle is the biggest of the bunch and known for his blocking on the college level, and will carry the cheapest price tag.

And the winner is...

Finlay: Assuming all tight end options make it through training camp healthy, Sprinkle seems to be the leader for the third tight end spot. Why? Money. Paul is due nearly $2 million this fall and has played just eight games over the last two seasons. Carrier will cost just over $1 million on the Redskins books. Sprinkle will likely cost half of Carrier and a quarter of Paul's salary. Of course, if Sprinkle does not seem capable in camp, that could change the dynamic, but don't expect that to happen. The rookie proved a highly effective blocker on a run-first team in the SEC, while also flashing good hands as a receiver. Plus, he's got serious size at 6-foot-5 and 252 lbs. Jay Gruden talked about wanting his team to get bigger, and Sprinkle is bigger than both Carrier and Paul. Remember how often the Redskins like to deploy their three tight end jumbo set, and then imagine Sprinkle running onto the field for the formation. The biggest area where Sprinkle needs to prove himself, and quickly, is on special teams. Paul was a special teams standout when healthy.  

Tandler: I would think long and hard before cutting Niles Paul loose. He has been the heart and soul of the Redskins' special teams since he stepped on the field as a rookie. When he has had the chance, he has been productive as a receiver. In 2014, the last time he was fully healthy for a season, he was Reed's backup and he caught 39 passes for 507 yards despite a three-ring circus (RGIII, Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins) at quarterback. And it's not really fair to call him injury prone. He suffered a broken ankle in a pileup during the 2015 preseason and last year he suffered a shoulder injury trying to make a leaping grab in London. 

In the grand scheme of the NFL's $167 million salary cap, the $1.875 savings that would come from moving on from Paul barely qualifies as a drop in the bucket. While I think that the Redskins need to keep Sprinkle, they should carve out a fourth tight end roster spot for Paul. They did it in 2013 when the drafted Reed when Paul, Logan Paulsen, and Fred Davis were already on the roster. Perhaps they could go with one fewer at the running back spot or at wide receiver. One way or another, if Paul is healthy they should be creative and find a way to keep him around. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Jaguars. 

Week 15 December 16, TIAA Bank Field

2017 Jaguars: 10-6, First in AFC South, lost AFC championship game 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 9

Early line: Redskins +8

Key additions: G Andrew Norwell, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Donte Moncrief, 

Key losses:WR Allen Hurns, WR Allen Robinson

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Blake Bortles was very inconsistent during the season and there was talk of the team looking for a replacement for him prior to their run in the playoffs. Does he have what it takes to get the team back into serious contention. 
  • The team also got an inconsistent season out of RB Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 pick in the draft. Can he put together the monster season that would justify his draft status and help elevate the Jaguars to elite status. 
  • The Jaguars went from 25thin scoring defense in 2016 to second last year. Will they fall back to the pack this year?

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 5-1. The Jaguars only win against them came in 2002.

Series notables

The first time: September 28, 1997, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium—In the second game ever played at the Redskins’ new stadium, Jacksonville took a 9-0 lead in the second quarter, but then-Jags QB Mark Brunell threw a pair of interceptions that set up two Washington touchdowns and the Redskins won 24-12. Gus Frerotte threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns and Terry Allen gained 122 yards on 36 carries. 

The last time: November 14, 2012, FedEx Field—Jay Gruden got his first win as the Redskins’ head coach in this one. Robert Griffin III went out of this game early with an injury and Kirk Cousins passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his place. It was the defense that dominated this game, racking up 10 sacks, tying the team record set in 1977. Ryan Kerrigan got four of those sacks, tying the team individual record for sacks in a game. The Redskins won 41-10.

The best time: October 1, 2006, FedEx Field—A taught, exciting game came to an explosive end when Santana Moss snared a pass that Mark Brunell perhaps should not have thrown and streaked to the end zone, giving the Redskins a 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville.

The reason the throw was risky was that two defenders were near Moss as Brunell fired it to the speedy receiver. Somehow both of them missed it. Moss grabbed it, spun around and bolted the rest of the way to complete the 68-yard game winner.

It was Moss’ third touchdown reception of the day. In the first quarter, he caught a long pass from Brunell and executed a nifty spin move near the goal line to complete the 55-yard touchdown play. An eight-yard Moss TD catch early in the third quarter put the Redskins up by 10 but the Jags battled back to tie it with six seconds left. That set up Moss’ overtime heroics. 

The worst time: November 10, 2002, Alltel Stadium—The Redskins came into the game riding a two-game winning streak and at 4-4 they were squarely in playoff contention. A strong running game had been their best asset during their surge to .500 and, with the Jaguars sporting the worst run defense in the NFL, there was every reason to believe that the Redskins would take the land route to another win.

But coach Steve Spurrier had different ideas. "I was dumb enough to think we could throw it up and down the field," Spurrier said. "We ran a little bit here and there. We had a little success there early, and I got away from it too much. The second quarter, I kept thinking at midfield, we could throw the ball from there. But we didn't do it very well. So, looking back, I called a lousy game."

His defense didn’t play very well either. The Redskins scored first but the Jaguars scored 26 unanswered points and came out with a 26-7 win.

Redskins schedule series

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

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World's most grueling bicycle race no match for visually impaired Redskins fan

World's most grueling bicycle race no match for visually impaired Redskins fan

Completing a cross-country road trip often rests atop — or near the top — of any adventurer's bucket list.

Completing a cross-country road trip on a tandem bicycle, however, is something only a select few set out to accomplish.

Meet Tina Ament, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and avid Redskins fan from Alexandria, Va. who is attempting to accomplish such feat.

Ament is also blind.

The visually impaired triathlete, who became a Redskins fan at a young age when her military family relocated to Northern Virginia during the Sonny Jurgensen era, has dealt with the adversity since birth, using cycling as a way to reach new heights and spread awareness.

The Alexandria resident is one of four representing Team Sea to See, which is chasing down history as the first blind-stoker team to ever compete in Race Across America's 37-year history.

For those unfamiliar with the race, it is arguably the most grueling cycle race on the planet.

A race that begins in Oceanside, Calif. and finishes at City Dock in Annapolis, Md. spans over 3,000 miles, climbs 175,000 feet and crosses through 12 states. The total distance is 30 percent longer than that of the Tour de France.

The Sea to See team for Race Across America is made up of four, tandem, blind-stoker cycling duos. Pilots guide these two-seaters (pictured below) from the front while blind stokers do the heavy lifting and pedaling from behind. Ament's guide is 38-year-old civil attorney Pamela Ferguson.

The two have been competing together since 2015. 

You may be wondering what Ament's motive is. 

Last month during a podcast recording for NBC Sports Washington, Ament was quick to explain that more than 70 percent of blind Americans are unemployed. 

"All it really takes is for employers, or for anybody out here, to not look at us and see a blind person. But look at us and see a lawyer. Look at us and see a Redskins fan. Look at us and see a capable person who is capable of doing amazing things and all we really need is a shot," she went on to say. 

As the team makes its way through Kansas, weather conditions are as difficult as ever.

Early Wednesday morning, a chunk of hail broke one of the team's RV windows. 

The 29 teams competing have nine days to complete the journey. 

Per Team Sea to Sea's Facebook page, the group has reached the halfway point, as of Wednesday, June 20.

Use Race Across America's Live Tracker to follow along over the course of the next week.  

Photos courtesy of: Tina Ament, Team Sea to See