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Redskins 2017 roster battles: Which cornerback will cover the slot?

Redskins 2017 roster battles: Which cornerback will cover the slot?

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.

Nickel cornerback

The contenders:

The Redskins never really got settled at what is essentially a starting position in a league where three- and four-wide receiver sets are the norm. Dashaun Phillips played the slot the first few games before a combination of a hamstring injury and ineffectiveness put him on the bench. Rookie third-round pick Kendall Fuller took over and it was hoped he would seize the job for a long time. But he got lit up with quarterbacks posting a 120 passer rating when throwing into his coverage, per Pro Football Focus. Fuller wound up being a healthy scratch late in the season. Veteran Greg Toler handled the slot down the stretch.

Toler was not re-signed. Phillips and Fuller are back but it is not just a two-man competition for the nickel corner spot. While Bashaud Breeland would rather stay at one of the outside spots in his contract year (outside corners get paid more than slot guys), they could put Quinton Dunbar or rookie Fabian Moreau outside in nickel situations and have Breeland slide inside. While rookie seventh-round pick Josh Holsey is a long shot to land the job but as long as the job remains unsettled he will get a look.

And the winner is . . .

Tandler: Last year was a year to forget for Fuller. He suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee that ended his final year at Virginia Tech after three games. The injury hampered him during the offseason program and in training camp. Fuller was inactive for the first three games in part because of the knee and in part because he wasn’t ready. He struggled mightily, as noted above. But with the third-round pick invested in him, I think he gets first crack at grabbing the nickel job this year. Many analysts had Fuller rated as a first-round talent before his injury. If he is fully healthy I think that he has a very good shot at taking the job and not giving it up.

Finlay: No surprise that Tandler picked his fellow Hokie Fuller to take over the nickel cover spot. Fuller is a better player than he showed last year, but he will have to prove that starting in minicamp. Coaches lost their faith in him, particularly when he got torched by Stef Diggs and the Vikings. A full NFL offseason and a healthy knee could make a big difference. One name I would throw in that Tandler didn't mention would be Will Blackmon. The veteran was forced to move to safety in 2016 because the Redskins lacked viable options, but with an offseason that added D.J. Swearinger via free agency and Montae Nicholson in the draft, not to mention moving Su'a Cravens full-time to safety and the expected healthy return of DeAngelo Hall, Blackmon might be able to move back to corner.  Playing primary nickel corner in the second half of the 2015 season, Blackmon made plays, logging two interceptions and three forced fumbles to go with eight broken up passes. Fuller might have the inside track, but I wouldn't count out the veteran Blackmon. There's also a scenario where Fabian Moreau could force his way onto the field, likely as an outside corner. If that happens, expect Breeland to bump inside. This would likely not happen until the midway point of the season at the earliest as Moreau is working back from injury and will need to learn the NFL game. 

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 TE Vernon Davis helps send grieving family to Super Bowl LIII

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Redskins TE Vernon Davis helps send grieving family to Super Bowl LIII

Vernon Davis is a charitable guy, and it's one of the reasons he's the Washington Redskins Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. 

His latest gesture is an attempt to bring a little joy to a grieving family after they recently lost their 17-year-old son, who Davis had previously met. The Redskins veteran tight end met the Howey family and their son, Ryan, who was a huge Washington fan and was going through treatment for brain cancer, according to the team.

Sadly not long after Ryan and his family met Davis, he passed away.

"It broke my heart," Davis told TMZ in a video, adding that about a year ago, Ryan was "totally fine" and going to Redskins games. "It was unfortunate he had to deal with that."

And Davis wanted to do what he could for the Howey family and "bring some joy to their spirit," so he gave them two tickets to Super Bowl LIII, and, with the help of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, he was able to get them a third so Ryan's parents and sister could all attend the game together. Davis said is also paying for their flights to Atlanta and hotel as well.

He said after he heard Ryan passed away, he reached out via FaceTime to the Howey family, and, of course, they didn't know what to expect from such a call. And after he told them what he wanted to do, he told TMZ they were crying "tears of joy."

"It was just on my heart," Davis said in his interview with TMZ. "They were the first ones I could think of when it comes to just making them happy, just bringing some joy in their life after all they've had to deal with their son. I just put myself in that situation, you know? I'm just having some compassion here, and I would want the same thing."

The New England Patriots will play the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Feb. 3.

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Alex Smith spotted at Wizards game wearing big apparatus on injured right leg

Alex Smith spotted at Wizards game wearing big apparatus on injured right leg

Alex Smith was at the Wizards-Pistons game on Monday, having scored some good seats in the owner's suite. The Redskins quarterback was spotted at Capital One Arena wearing a large apparatus on his right leg as he continues his long recovery from his mid-November injury.

In previous updates about his recovery, Smith's legs were covered and he was in a wheelchair. 

In this glimpse of Smith, he appeared to no longer require a wheelchair, or one wasn't seen in the box. Instead, he was sitting in a seat and two crutches were behind him:

The Redskins and Smith's family had previously asked for privacy during his rehab. Major questions remain about whether he'll play in 2019 for the Redskins, or ever again in fact, but at the very least it's good to see him out in public.

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