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Redskins rewind: A look back at Friday's preview

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Redskins rewind: A look back at Friday's preview

Three days ago, I listed five storylines to follow during Sunday’s showdown against the Steelers in my preview on www.csnwashington.com. Now it’s time to examine how those keys to the game played out at Heinz Field, where the Redskins suffered an ugly 27-12 loss.

1—Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Redskins’ pass defense. As we mentioned, Roethlisberger recently described the Steelers’ air attack under new coordinator Todd Haley as “dink and dunk.” And true to form, Big Ben and his talented crew of receivers picked apart the Redskins with short and intermediate passes. 

In fact, of the Steelers’ first 17 plays, 10 were short passes by Roethlisberger, including a one-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Pope. Roethlisberger used five different receivers on those first two drives, which resulted in a 10-0 lead the home team would not relinquish.

Roethlisberger finished the game with a 72.7 completion percentage and three touchdowns of 1, 7 and 1 yards, respectively.

2—London Fletcher’s status. It was clear from pre-game warmups that he intended to suit up and extend his streak of consecutive games to 232, the longest among active players.

Fetcher missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with hamstring and balance issues. On Sunday, he and Ryan Kerrigan were the only defensive players to take every snap (61). Although the 37-year-old linebacker was not at his sharpest, he finished with six combined tackles, including a big hit on Chris Rainey on a screen pass that resulted in a five-yard loss in the third quarter.

Fletcher acknowledged that he played through some discomfort, but declined to put a percentage on his health, saying, “I was well enough to play.”

Shanahan, meantime, said Sunday he would not grade Fletcher’s performance until he had an opportunity to watch the film.

3—When will all the injuries become too much to overcome? That time might be approaching, if it hasn’t already arrived for a team saddled with an $18 million salary cap penalty.

On Sunday, the Redskins were missing tackle Jammal Brown, linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive end Adam Carriker, wide receiver Pierre Garçon, tight end Fred Davis as well as safeties Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson – all of whom had been penciled in as starters or major contributors during the offseason.

Overall depth is better than it’s been in recent seasons. Everything, though, has its limits. Consider: Much of the blame for the loss was laid at the feet – er, hands – of the Redskins’ receivers, who dropped 10 passes according to Coach Mike Shanahan’s subjective count.

Of course, there’s no way to know if having the team’s No. 1 and 2 passing options on the field instead of the sideline would have helped. But you can’t convince me that Garçon would have dropped the ball that Leonard Hankerson did, or that Davis wouldn't have made a difference.

Shanahan is usually very measured in his postgame remarks but he did not mince words when asked about the drops, issuing this stern warning to his receivers, “I don’t care where the placement is. As long as it hits your hand, you better catch it or else you won’t be in the National Football League for very long."

4—Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris vs. the Steelers’ run defense.

The Redskins entered the game averaging a league-leading 177.7 yards per game on the ground. Against the Steelers, they amassed a season-low 86 yards. The lowest previous output was 129 against the Falcons.

The Redskins’ 21 rushing attempts tied for a season low (Falcons). Against the Giants, they attempted 38 runs.

Alfred Morris’s 13 carries, meantime, were a career-low for the standout rookie.

5—Chris Cooley’s first game in 53 weeks. Cooley didn’t expect to get much action and, indeed, it was limited. The tight end played 19 snaps – 37 fewer than Logan Paulsen.

It will be interesting to see if their roles change in the coming weeks as Cooley works his way back into football shape after sitting out the season's first seven games.

“It was a pretty emotional day for me,” he said. “It felt great to get the start. I had so much adrenaline pumping through me.”

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Need to Know: Adrian Peterson visit part of Redskins contingency planning at running back

Need to Know: Adrian Peterson visit part of Redskins contingency planning at running back

Here is what you need to know on Monday, August 20, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

Jay Gruden added some clarity to the Redskins’ running back situation, although questions remain. 

First, and perhaps most important, he said that there are no immediate plans to sign Jamaal Charles or Orleans Darkwa, both of whom visited Redskins Park on Sunday, or Adrian Peterson, who is scheduled to come to Ashburn today. 

"Well we want to bring them in to get physicals on them just in case,” said Gruden. Like I said, we have had very [unlucky] situations with our running backs with obviously Guice and Marshall and Samaje, if something else happens, we are going to be really, really, really thin, so we just want to make sure we are covering all our bases right now and we will address it when we feel like we have to." 

Derrius Guice is out for the season with a torn ACL. Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine suffered injuries last Thursday against the Jets. According to media reports, Perine should be out a week and Marshall for two to four weeks. 

The key to what Gruden said was the part about “covering all of our bases right now”. Things are tight at running back now. But they are a Rob Kelley injury or a Perine setback away from being in big trouble. They would need to go to Plan B and that might be Peterson or Charles or Darkwa. 

But the Redskins have a short-term problem. Assuming Perine won’t play on Friday in the third preseason game against the Broncos, the Redskins would only be left with Kelley and Kapri Bibbs to handle most of the load in that game. Chris Thompson is scheduled to play some, but only for about a quarter. The Redskins will want to acquire at least one other running back to play on Friday. 

It sounds like that back won’t be someone like Charles or Darkwa, but it could well be someone you’ve never heard of. It was somewhat surprising that they didn’t have a new running back at practice today, but it’s very likely that they will have someone in place in time for practice on Tuesday. 

Bureau of statistics

2017 stat slash lines for RBs visiting the Redskins

Darkwa (NYG) 171 att./751 yds./4.4 yds per att./5 TD
Charles (DEN) 69/296/4.3/1
Peterson (AZ/NO) 156/529/3.4/2

The agenda

Today: Off day

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 4 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 12 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 20 days

In case you missed it

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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The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

After sustaining a number of injuries to their running back group, the Redskins need help at the position. 

In that quest, the team will bring in veteran Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Arguably one of the best all-time running backs in the NFL, Peterson not being on a roster at this point in the season might be a surprise. Last year, Peterson split time between New Orleans and Arizona and rushed for more than 500 yards. 

Peterson built his fame and name with a long run of success in Minnesota, including a 2,000-yard season in 2012. In 123 games with the Vikings spanning 10 years, he rushed for nearly 12,000 yards and 97 touchdowns. 

Washington is in serious need for depth and talent at RB. 

Rookie Derrius Guice went down for the season in the preseason opener, and last week Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall sustained injuries. 

At Sunday's practice, head coach Jay Gruden joked that his son, Jack, should take some practice reps at the position. 

Currently, the Redskins only have Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Kapri Bibbs as running backs on the roster, and Thompson hasn't played yet this preseason as he's working back from a broken leg last November.

The Redskins also worked out veteran runners Jamaal Charles and Orleans Darkwa. Peterson has the biggest name of all of them.

This offseason, Peterson also worked out with Redskins tackle Trent Williams.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

For more analysis on Peterson's visit, check out this RB-oriented episode of Redskins Talk.