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Sean Taylor: What could have been

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Sean Taylor: What could have been

Most football fans went to bed on the night of November 26, 2007 thinking that Sean Taylor was going to be OK. There were reports that he had squeezed a hand in response to a question and that after a very difficult first day after having been shot in the leg during a home robbery, things were looking up. Taylor wasn’t out of the woods but he seemed to be on his way.

And then the next morning everyone woke up to the horrifying news that Taylor had died, unable to recover from the loss of blood from the wound to the femoral artery in his leg.

Suddenly, the player who was just beginning to turn potential into performance and had become the best player on the Redskins, the friend and teammate to Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and many others, the prized pupil of Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams, and, most importantly, the doting father to 18-month-old Jackie, was gone.

We don’t know just how good Taylor may have been on the field. He had made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and had done enough in 2007 to earn—truly earn—posthumous honors.

It seems certain that those would have been the first of many trips to Hawaii for Taylor. He was just 25 and the only question was if he would be one of the best ever to play safety for the Redskins or if he would become one of the league’s greatest of all time.

The affects of the loss of Taylor were far reaching and are still felt today. Looking at the on-field aspects of tragedy, the Redskins have never been able to find even a competent safety to take his place. LaRon Landry, who was going to team with Taylor to form a fierce safety combo for years to come, is a natural strong safety who struggled when moved to Taylor’s free safety position. Reed Doughty, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Kareem Moore have tried and have either moved on or, in Doughty’s case, moved into a backup role. Madieu Williams, this year’s free safety, is unlikely to be a long-term solution, either.

While it seems certain that Taylor would have enjoyed a high level of personal success with the Redskins, we don’t know if the team would have been substantially better. But the fans and everyone else associated with the team has to wonder what might have been and reacts to the fact that a punk with a gun deprived us of the chance to find out with a mix of sadness and anger. 

And of course, thoughts of what could have been. Earlier this season Sean's father, Pedro Taylor, addressed the possibility of his son playing on a squad with Robert Griffin III at the helm...

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Moses, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.