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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

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Watch Jordan Reed's top five plays with the Redskins

Watch Jordan Reed's top five plays with the Redskins

The Redskins released Jordan Reed on Thursday, marking the end of six seasons and seven years with the team.

The 2013 third-round pick was one of the NFL's elite tight ends when he was at full health, but concussions and other injuries have prevented the athletic pass-catcher from ever playing a full 16-game NFL season.

Reed had some spectacular moments in the nation's capital, highlighted by a terrific month of December in 2015 where he totaled 30 receptions, 411 yards and five touchdowns in just one month. The Redskins won their final four contests that season, clinching the NFC East.

At his best, Reed made several acrobatic catches at times and was unguardable at others. He consistently was a matchup nightmare for opponents and a dynamic weapon for the Redskins.

So, to pay tribute to Reed's tenure in Washington, take a look at his top five catches with the Burgundy and Gold.

5. Reed's one-handed catch against the Giants in 2016

The tight end's hands were never something to question.

In a tight Week 3 contest with a divisional foe, the Redskins offense was in need of a play. On a second-and-10 midway through the third, quarterback Kirk Cousins spotted an open Reed, but his throw was slightly behind the tight end.

Reed reached back and acrobatically hauled in the pass. Then, instead of going out of bounds, Reed made three Giants defenders miss before running upfield to pick up the first down. 

The Redskins would take the lead on a field goal later in the drive, and hold on to win, 29-27.

4. One-hander against Green Bay in the 2016 playoffs

With the Redskins holding an early lead in the first quarter with the ball near midfield, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins looked Reed's way to convert an important third down. 

Reed, lined up as a receiver on the left in the slot, ran a three-step out route off the line. As Cousins released the ball, Packers cornerback Casey Hayward made a break on the ball, putting himself in the perfect position to intercept Cousins' pass and return it the other way for six.

But at the last second, the tight end stuck out his right arm and hauled in the pass with one-hand in between Hayward and another Packers defender. Reed split the two defenders and ran upfield for a 20-yard gain.

Later on in the drive, Reed hauled in a 24-yard touchdown to extend Washington's lead to 11. Unfortunately, it didn't last for the Redskins, as the Packers went on a 35-7 run to close the game and handily win the Wild Card clash.

3. Reed's dominant effort to clinch the NFC East in 2015 vs. Philadelphia

There are a number of moments from Reed that one could single out during this contest, but his overall body of work deserved praise on this day.

The Eagles simply had no match for the tight end, who finished with nine receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns in the Redskins 38-24 Week 16 victory over Philadelphia in Lincoln Financial Field. 

Perhaps no play from this game was more impressive than Reed's signature crossover move. Matched up against Mychal Kendricks, Reed shook the Eagles linebacker before breaking open in the middle of the field. Cousins found the open Reed for a 12-yard touchdown.

Just watch the video below and let the nostalgia flow.

2. Reed's one-handed catch on Thanksgiving against Dallas in 2016

The tight end had one of the best games of his career against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving in 2016. Dallas had no answer for Reed, who finished with 10 receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

But Reed's best moment of the game came on a streak route down the right sideline. Playing with a separated shoulder, one that caused Reed to miss the next two games, the tight end hauled in an incredible, one-handed grab with Byron Jones draped over him.

This picture explains it all.

The Cowboys went on to win the Turkey Day clash, but Reed was the best playmaker on the field that day.

1. Game-winning touchdown to cap 24-point comeback vs. Tampa Bay

The Redskins victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015 will always be remembered in history as the Cousins' "You like that?!" game. But, the final touchdown to cap the comeback victory is largely Reed's doing.

Washington lined up in an odd formation: four receivers were bunched on the left with Reed isolated on the right. The bunch was almost used as a decoy, as Cousins did not even look to his left.  

The touchdown tied the game for Washington, with Dustin Hopkins extra point giving them a one-point lead with just 24 seconds to play. Reed has a spectacular afternoon, finishing with 11 receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns.

Bonus: Reed making defenders foolish

Like many tight ends in today's modern NFL, Reed grew up with a basketball background. Well, the crossover move never left his arsenal.

Several times throughout his tenure in Washington, Reed shook defenders with a simple crossover move, sometimes with the ball in hand, sometimes without. No. 86's ability to make defenders look foolish was unparalleled. 

The crossover was just one of the many things Reed had in his bag of tricks. Watch and enjoy some of his best moves.

Best of luck to Reed in his next stop.

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Redskins free agent targets: Nine wide receivers that they may want

Redskins free agent targets: Nine wide receivers that they may want

NBC Sports Washington is taking a long look at potential free agents that could help the Redskins in 2020. To conclude, here's a widespread evaluation of wide receivers they may be interested in.

The fun of pre-free agency in the NFL is imagining all the guys your team may bring in.

So, instead of zooming in on one wideout for a specific profile, here's a rapid-fire analysis on nine players Ron Rivera and the Redskins could consider adding to their offense.

Amari Cooper: He's a 25-year-old route-running maestro coming off of his best season as a pro, making him the top option in the sport. However, it's hard to imagine Jerry Jones letting him out of Dallas.

Emmanuel Sanders: He'll be 33 years old this March, but he'd be a perfect complement to a young and rising star like Terry McLaurin. Problem is, would someone who has played in multiple Super Bowls want to join a rebuilding franchise this late in his career? Probably not.

AJ Green: Green's last catch came in December... of 2018. The perennial Pro Bowler didn't play at all last year thanks to an ankle injury he sustained in training camp. Whatever team nabs him will be taking quite a risk.

Robby Anderson: Anderson has never had a full-on breakout campaign, but he's also never played fewer than 14 games in four years with the Jets and was usually good for about 50 catches for 750 yards and around five scores for New York. Now, how much can those numbers go up in a more functional offense with better pieces around him? That's the question.

Randall Cobb: Cobb showed he could survive without Aaron Rodgers by putting together a solid stat line with the Cowboys; but he's mostly a slot receiver, and Steven Sims already occupies that spot for Washington. Ron Rivera isn't tied to any of his new players, of course, but Sims feels like someone Rivera will want to feature in 2020 and beyond. 

Phillip Dorsett: He's a 2015 first-rounder who has not lived up to that draft status at all, and for a guy with as much speed as he has, he doesn't average the yards per catch you'd expect. If the Redskins were to pursue him, it'd be for a very specific role.

Devin Funchess: Funchess has ties to Rivera, which is something to track at every position this offseason. The tall pass-catcher spent the first four years of his career with the coach in Carolina before joining the Colts in 2019. Unfortunately, a broken collarbone limited him to one contest with Indy, so he may be looking for a one-year deal so he can prove himself again.

Chris Hogan: Another ex-Panther, yet Hogan only got to play there for a couple of games in 2019 before ending up on injured reserve. Before that, he registered 50-plus grabs in five consecutive seasons, though, so he can be a useful supplemental target. He also used to play lacrosse, by the way.

Demarcus Robinson - Robinson is an intriguing guy. He's been buried behind the likes of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce on the Chiefs' food chain, so now he has a chance to establish himself elsewhere and get more looks. Even as a role player in Kansas City, Robinson totaled 32 catches for 449 yards and four TDs for the champs, including a 6-catch, 172-yard outing in Week 2 in place of Hill.

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