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Some positives, but Redskins have a lot of work to do

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Some positives, but Redskins have a lot of work to do

The Redskins will get back to work tomorrow after their 7-6 win over the Bills in their preseason opener and their to-do list will be long.There were some positives, the most notable being the impressive performance of Robert Griffin III in his pro debut. But there were issues as well.After Griffin left the game after leading the game's only touchdown drive, the offense came to a grinding stop. Rex Grossman completed just two of 10 passes for 22 yards and Kirk Cousins was nine of 22 for 74 yards with an interception. For the game the Redskins rushed 32 times for 87 yards, an average of just 2.7 yards a carry.They did not get close enough for either Neil Rackers or Graham Gano to try a field goal. The in-game aspect of their battle for the kicking job, the part that Danny Smith said was the most critical, is now on hold until their game next Saturday in Chicago.The Redskins played better defensively. They allowed the Bills to net just 219 yards of offense. Three Buffalo quarterbacks combined to complete just 14 of 34 passes. And 37 of the 100 yards rushing the Bills picked up came on Vince Young scrambles.Perhaps the biggest issue on defense was some missed opportunities. Rookie Richard Crawford did intercept a pass with a nice, over the shoulder catch but at least three other Redskins dropped easier chances at picks. Buffalo fumbled twice and Washington could not recover either one.Some individuals are going to have to get back to work to improve on their performances. Cornerback Cedric Griffin allowed receivers to get free multiple times, even after the Bills put in their second string offense. Brandon Banks had looked good as a receiver in practice but he had just two catches for seven yards despite being targeted a team-high nine times. Those two along with a number of other players ay have cost themselves position on the depth chart or may have jeopardized their roster spots with their play on Thursday.The good thing for those players and for the team as a whole is that there are many more practices and three more preseason games before the final cuts on Aug. 31 and the Sept. 9 season opener.

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VIDEO: Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis return to Redskins OTAs

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VIDEO: Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis return to Redskins OTAs

Montae Nicholson and Vernon Davis were among those absent at Monday's open Redskins OTAs session, and both absences were surprising considering each player's somewhat unsteady spot on the roster.

Nicholson's second year with the Redskins was a struggle both on and off the field, while Davis is often mentioned as someone who might be in line for a contract restructuring or even a release. 

However, thanks to a video that the Redskins posted on Instagram, it's now clear that the safety and the tight end have since returned to Ashburn to work with their fellow teammates:

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8️⃣5️⃣ putting in the work

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It's an especially encouraging development for Nicholson, who should be doing whatever he can to get back in the good graces of the coaching staff. Whatever the reason for his absence was on Monday, it's a good sign to see that he didn't stay away too long. 

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Most OTAs absences don't matter, but Montae Nicholson's absence sure stands out

Most OTAs absences don't matter, but Montae Nicholson's absence sure stands out

Most of the time, if you're getting upset about an NFL player skipping voluntary OTAs, you're doing life wrong.

But if you're a Redskins fan who's a bit puzzled by Montae Nicholson not showing up to the early sessions of Washington's offseason workouts, you have a right to be.

Nicholson wasn't in Ashburn on Monday, a practice that was open to the media. There's been no indication that he's reported to the 'Skins since, either (UPDATE: Here's a video proving he has since returned, which is an encouraging sign). 

Now, this isn't a situation worth really freaking out about. Again, OTAs are voluntary, and it's totally possible Nicholson was working out somewhere else and feels that's how he'll be best prepared for 2019. 

Still, though, assuming he had nothing else serious going on, it's a questionable choice by the defensive back. And, according to Jay Gruden, it was a questionable choice he made on his own.

"Correct," Gruden answered Monday when asked if Nicholson skipping was based on the 23-year-old's decision. Gruden said earlier in his presser that he was "not really surprised" by it.

Perhaps the coach is telling the truth and he wasn't surprised. You can bet he was definitely annoyed by it, however.

Nicholson isn't an established player like Trent Williams or Josh Norman, other guys who weren't there when the Burgundy and Gold started this phase of the NFL calendar. He's a third-year safety with 22 up-and-down games to his name.

Not only that, he's just a week or so removed from the news that December assault charges against him were dropped due to a lack of evidence. You'd think someone who just learned that would be eager to get in front of Gruden and his coaching staff and try to repair his image.

After all, much of the same coaching staff who preferred to keep Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the lineup over Nicholson, even as Clinton-Dix struggled following his arrival, remains in charge.  

The starting spot opposite of Landon Collins is wide open, and of the options on the roster, Nicholson is the most talented. He also would fit nicely next to Collins, considering he's got the speed and ability in coverage when he's healthy and mentally right.

Speaking of Collins, he attended OTAs, despite the fact that he wasn't able to participate as he continues to rehab a shoulder injury. Yet there he was, involved and roaming the sidelines, encouraging his teammates and coaching up the younger DBs on various techniques and details.

One of those DBs Collins should've been coaching up is Nicholson, yet Nicholson was nowhere to be found. Plenty more reps await Nicholson over the coming months, but the fact that he wasn't there to claim the first helping of them is not the best way to start his path back into the starting lineup.

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