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Redskins Gruden on Jackson: 'He has not slowed down at all'

Redskins Gruden on Jackson: 'He has not slowed down at all'

If the Redskins are going to beat the Giants on Sunday and make it into the NFL playoffs, it seems likely that DeSean Jackson is going to have to play a part in it. The veteran receiver has been on fire lately. He has over 100 yards receiving in four of his last five games. In the other game in that stretch he caught a 59-yard bomb that set up a Redskins touchdown. In all, since the Redskins’ Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas Jackson has 20 receptions for 504 yards, a blistering average of 25.2 yards per reception.

Jackson was not as effective in most games earlier in the season but he did play a key role in the Redskins’ Week 3 win over the Giants He caught five passes for 96 yards but two of those catches loomed large. The Redskins were trailing 21-9 with the second quarter winding down. From the Washington 25, Kirk Cousins hooked up with Jackson twice. The first one covered 31 yards and on the very next play Cousins went to Jackson in the end zone for the touchdown. Two plays, 75 yards, and the Redskins were back in the game.

In Jackson’s recent hot streak, it doesn’t matter if the other team goes zone or with man coverage. He can beat either.

“Some of them he’s beaten man coverage, which is good to see,” said Jay Gruden. “But for the most part he’s making big plays in zones, which the two catches that he had – or three – big plays that he had were in zone coverage so it’s good to see him find holes in zones and the quarterback finding him. But, like I said before, we have a progression-based offense, especially when you play zone. And it’s up to the quarterback and the offensive line to have the time and find the right spots in the right holes and Kirk did a great job. So did DeSean.”

Jackson turned 30 earlier this month. At that age, the potential to lose some speed starts to be a concern. But not for Jackson, at least as far as Gruden is concerned.

“He’s not slowed down at all,” said Gruden. “Sometimes when he’s jogging it looks like he’s running 100 miles an hour. He’s got great speed, obviously he’s got great quickness and still has unbelievable hands.”

The Redskins need to take advantage of his speed, quickness, great hands, and production while they can. Jackson will be a free agent in 2017 and the organization may have to decide between keeping Jackson and keeping Pierre Garçon, who also turned 30 recently and he also will be a free agent. The two players combined to take up more than $18 million in cap space this year. They are likely to sign similar contracts next year and the Redskins will be wary of having so much money tied up in two receivers who are over 30 years old.

Jackson said on Wednesday that he is intrigued by the prospect of become a free agent but he will worry about that when the time comes. For now, he wants to go deep and try to get his current team into the playoffs.

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'Where is the humanity?': Chris Thompson opens up on the negative side of social media

'Where is the humanity?': Chris Thompson opens up on the negative side of social media

There are a ton of positives, from specific examples like what Derrius Guice has been able to do with Redskins supporters since being drafted or more general things like getting the chance to see what your favorite 'Skin is up to on an off day, that have resulted from the growing relationship between players and fans through social media. 

But with that increased connection comes increased volatility. Now, you don't have to be within earshot at a stadium to get on someone wearing Burgundy and Gold for a mistake they made or a loss they participated in. 

It's that second part — the constant criticism that largely goes unseen — that upsets Chris Thompson.

So, while he was responding to a question about Mason Foster's leaked Instagram messages, the running back made sure to comment on life as an athlete on social media overall.

"Dealing with the fans, it's hard because we're all human," Thompson said. "It's real tough when people keep coming at you and saying negative stuff towards you like we're not human beings and we're not supposed to say something at some point."

The veteran, who has distanced himself from things like Instagram and Twitter and has noticed how his mental state has improved because of that distancing, knows that ignoring the negativity is the proper route to take. It's far from the easiest route, though.

"Once you say something back to them it's like, 'Oh, you're not supposed to say anything,'" Thompson explained. "No, we're all human. If you say something, sometimes you should expect a response. And then on the flip side, there are some times we just gotta hold our tongue, and it's really, really, really, really hard sometimes. You don't know how hard it is."

Jonathan Allen is another Redskin who tries to limit his exposure to certain apps and sites these days. The fan interaction is something he enjoys, but in the end, it doesn't take much for those interactions to sour.

"The way I look at it, 99-percent of fans are great," Allen said. "They're supportive of what you do, they're always gonna love the Redskins. But there's gonna be that 1-percent of fans who aren't like that, and those are the fans that are gonna ruin it for everybody and give players the bad image of all the fans."

Thompson told one story of a recent message he got online from someone who blamed him for ruining his fantasy season by missing games due to injury. The 28-year-old couldn't comprehend how someone could write that to him while he's battling through broken ribs on both sides and an ankle issue.

Sadly, it was just one example that stood out among countless others, all of which make up the uglier side of technology in 2018.

"Where is the humanity?" Thompson said. "It sucks because we're not really looked at as humans. We're kind of robots. We're not supposed to have feelings, we're only supposed to show emotion on the field and everything should be about football, football, football."

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Redskins teammates defend Mason Foster after his critical Instagram messages are leaked

Redskins teammates defend Mason Foster after his critical Instagram messages are leaked

For yet another week at Redskins Park, members of the team were forced to face non-football questions despite still being in the mix for a playoff spot.

This time around, the topic at hand was Mason Foster. On Tuesday, private messages between the linebacker and another Instagram user were leaked, and in those messages, Foster was critical of the Redskins and their fans. 

In the locker room on Wednesday, though, multiple players backed Foster and vouched for his character.

"All I know is what I see from him everyday, and I have nothing but good things to say about him as far as a teammate and a person," Jonathan Allen, who explained that he hardly pays attention to social media during the season and didn't see the Foster exchange, said.

"He's actually my favorite guy in the locker room," Vernon Davis said. "I'm sure he was just in the heat of the moment and he didn't really mean what he said... We all have moments where we're frustrated and stressed."

Foster wasn't available to reporters Wednesday. In the messages, he wrote in part, "F— this team and this fanbase." He also referenced that he's made out to be a "scapegoat," which doesn't sit well with him.

Like Davis, Adrian Peterson figured No. 54 was venting to the person and there wasn't anything more to read into it than that.

"I didn't think it was that big of a deal," Peterson said. "He's one guy that I haven't questioned his effort at all on the field this year. I'm sure he regrets it now, now that everyone knows about what he was saying privately."

"But it doesn't change anything for me," he added. "When he's out there, he's giving 110-percent."

Foster becomes just the latest defender to stir up controversy. DJ Swearinger, Zach Brown and Josh Norman have all been at the center of issues, too, as the unit is deteroriating both on and off the field with the season nearing its conclusion.

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