ORCHARD PARK, NYIn summary: Most of the focus Thursday night in Buffalo was on Robert Griffin III, and rightfully so. But there were a handful of other storylines that unfolded on the artificial turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium.For your fill of RGIII, check out Rich Tandlers wall-to-wall coverage of the rookie quarterbacks professional debut. When youre done with that, come back here for everything else you need to know about the game.MVP: Pierre Garon led all pass catchers with three receptions for 58 yards (19.3 yards per) and the games only touchdown. The first-year Redskin and No. 1 wide receiver also looked to be inbound on the sideline catch he made on the first drive. If he had been given credit for it, Garcon would have hauled in all four passes thrown his way.Offensive play of the game: Admittedly, there werent many offensive highlights. But the nod has to go to Garons 20-yard touchdown reception. On a bubble screen to the left, Garon burst through the line, made a cut and got a crucial block downfield from Trent Williams, who occupied two defensive backs as Garon flipped into the end zone.We definitely needed that, Garon said. The first two drives were a little bit tough but were happy we ended off that third touchdown.Injury update: Speaking of Williams, the Redskins tackle said his left footankle was stepped on during the scoring play. He said X-rays were negative, but he had a pronounced limp as he walked from the locker room to the team bus.I just got stepped on, Williams said. Im fine.Asked if hell practice on Saturday, he added: Well see. It depends on how I feel in the morning. Its nothing serious.Williams was injured making that critical block downfield. Teammate Maurice Hurt was shoved into him from behind.Defensive play of the game: Late in the second quarter and the Redskins leading 7-3, rookie cornerback Richard Crawford made an over-the-shoulder interception of a Tyler Thigpen pass along the sideline. Crawford, a seventh round draft pick out of SMU who has shined through the first two weeks of training camp, returned the ball 16 yards.I used to play receiver, Crawford said, so I have to catch the interceptions.Breakthrough performance: Crawford gets a hat tip here, too. In addition to the interception, he made three punt returns for a total of 42 yards, including a long of 17.Its good just to get the nerves out, just to realize that you can play everybody else, Crawford said. Just gaining confidence, and thats pretty much what I did tonight.What they said: Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams on Griffin: It was pretty obvious they protected him. They did not want him to get hit. Its kind of hard to judge him because I do not thing we saw everything they are going to do with him this year.What they said, Part II: Royster on Griffins on-field leadership: He did well. I was surprised when he actually audibled a play at the right time. I was sitting back there like, You have to change this play. I was surprised that he caught onto it and it actually ended up being a successful play.What they said, Part III: Asked about his flip into the end zone, Garon cracked that he was inspired by the gymnastics competition at the Olympics.I need to work on my landing, though, he joked. I didnt know I was going to do it until I was in the air. Tried to do my little Gabby Douglas.Armageddon avoided: The injuries along the offensive line the unit was minus starters Kory Lichtensteiger, Jammal Brown and Chris Chester seemed to hold the potential for disaster for the Redskins and their rookie quarterback.But thats not how it unfolded. Backups Hurt, Adam Gettis and Tyler Polumbus proved more than adequate against a first team Bills defense. Polumbus was especially impressive against standout defensive end Mario Williams.Accepting blame: Although the official box score CHARGES Griffin with a fumble lost, running back Evan Royster said he should have held onto the ball, despite the fact that the handoff was low.Its tough to say, but Ill take the full blame, said Royster, who bounced back and rushed for 12, five and two yards on consecutive plays to set up Garons touchdown.Full stat line: Linebacker Bryan Kehl had six combined tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass defended.The Redskins return to the field Saturday.
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.
Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back.
Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons
This post was originally published on March 19.
When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details.
The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022.
Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer).
But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million.
His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now.
The cap hits on the contract are as follows:
2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million
The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022.
The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five.
More than 100 days remain before the Redskins take the field in meaningful NFL action.
Any and all excitement needs to be tempered, significantly, because what happens on a practice field in May without pads does not represent what will happen in September, October and beyond.
Still, the Redskins group that took the field this week for OTAs showed promise.
New quarterback Alex Smith looked crisp, connecting with a variety of wideouts and commanding the huddle. New wideout Paul Richardson made the best play of the session when he streaked down the field past rookie cornerback Greg Stroman and hauled in a deep pass from Smith. The play showed Smith's ability to identify open receivers downfield, as well as Richardson's ability to go up and grab a contested catch. Even Stroman, the seventh-round rookie, positioned himself well, he just fell victim to a perfect pass and tremendous athleticism.
That was only one play in a two-hour session. Again, don't take too much from May, when players don't wear pads or engage in any of the violence that the NFL is predicated upon. But the OTAs do serve a purpose, both for players and coaches, and there were nuggets to absorb and try to project for the fall. Here they are:
- Jay Gruden made clear he's not concerned about the health of his offensive line. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are recuperating from offseason surgery, but Gruden believes both are on track for when things start to matter. It's a good thing the coach isn't concerned because this was the 'Skins line in OTAs (left to right): Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, John Kling. Should that lineup take the field this fall, there will be trouble.
- The Redskins lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, and the secondary depth will be something to watch throughout training camp. At OTAs, newly signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick lined up opposite Josh Norman in the team's base 3-4 defense. In nickel and dime coverage, Quinton Dunbar lined up opposite Norman and Scandrick moved to the slot. As things progress, it will be interesting to see if Dunbar surpasses Scandrick in base coverage, and what becomes of 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Stay tuned.
- Rookie running back Derrius Guice looked every part of the first-round talent many judged him to be before draft season rumors caused him to slide to the late second round. Guice cuts with authority and is able to see holes before they form and patiently wait to hit the open space. Guice also looked fine in pass-catching drills, one area that was a question coming out of LSU (but that says more about LSU's prehistoric offense). Watching the Redskins offense work, it seems clear Guice will be the heaviest used runner this fall.
- That said, don't count out Robert Kelley. He looks leaner and plenty quick, showing a few impressive runs during the session. Byron Marshall also looked good, and Gruden pointed out his success in his post-OTA press conference. The running back group will have plenty of competition all the way through Richmond.
- Jonathan Allen has switched jersey numbers from 95 to 93. Rookie Daron Payne is now wearing 95. Payne and Allen both went to Alabama, both are huge, and both play defensive line. The number switch will take some getting used to.
- Zach Brown missed the OTA session as he was moving, and interestingly in his spot with the starting defense was Josh Harvey-Clemons. The second-year pro out of Louisville showed impressive speed in coverage, and remember he played safety in college and performed quite well. He has ball skills and great size to be a coverage linebacker. Some were surprised when the Redskins kept JHC last season at the cut to 53, but his development appears to be paying off for the organization.
- Another linebacker that made a play was Zach Vigil. He impressed for the Redskins late last season and was running the Washington second-team defensive huddle. At one point, Vigil broke through the line of scrimmage and blew up a run play. That prompted D.J. Swearinger to yell from the sideline, "OK Zach. OK ZACH!"
- Speaking of Swearinger, the Redskins defensive captain seemed in midseason form when it comes to yelling encouragement on the field. Nobody hypes up the defense like Swearinger, particularly when the secondary makes a big play. On one pass Dunbar made a nice diving play to break up a pass, and Swearinger and Josh Norman got very fired up, shouting and jumping around. The entire defense responded. Little stuff like that helps disrupt the monotony of offseason work.
- Jamison Crowder looks jacked and quick. The end.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense, defense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTA Report: Alex Smith looks sharp
- Dead Money: Trades and misses hurt future plans
- Free Agents: Five important questions
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