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Unique bond leads Perry Riley to look out for Redskins rookie

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Unique bond leads Perry Riley to look out for Redskins rookie

If it seems Perry Riley and Preston Smith talk with a similar Southern drawl, there's a reason behind it. Riley and Smith both grew up on the Atlanta area, and in fact, went to the same high school.

The more important news for Smith; veteran Riley plans to look out for the rookie linebacker.

"Most definitely," Riley said of his plans to help Smith out.

Both men played football at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., and grew up in similar circles. 

"We have plenty of conversations about it. It's fun," Riley said. "My freshman year of college was his freshman year of high school. We just missed each other, but we know all the same people just being from the same area of metro Atlanta."

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A four-year veteran, Riley has earned his way into a starting spot on the Redskins defense next to Keenan Robinson. Smith will have lots of opportunities to earn playing time, and an advocate like Riley will only help.

"Preston, being a rookie, he's a big kid, athletic kid," Riley said. 

Through OTAs and minicamp, Smith has looked impressive. His length will be an asset in the NFL, as his long arms will disrupt passing lanes and give him an advantage in gaining leverage against offensive lineman. With Brian Orakpo now playing for the Titans, Smith will have a chance to join Riley in the starting lineup.

The Redskins defensive unit should be improved this fall, with major free agent acquisitions along the line and in the secondary. Scot McCloughan did not spend money on the linebacker corps, instead, the expectations are for second-year man Trent Murphy and second-round pick Smith to pick up 'Rak's slack.

"It looks good out there," Riley said of the defense. "Trent has come in and done a great job this offseason, put on some weight. He's not a rookie anymore and he's playing like it." 

Murphy may have the inside track on Orakpo's old starting job, but Smith will get a lot of chances at playing time. Along with his length, versatility is a major asset for Smith, who can play standing up or in the three technique along the defensive line. Pass coverage will take work for Smith, as the adjustment from college to the pros is probably most severe for rookie linebackers in that area, just as it did for Murphy. Orakpo also struggled at times in pass coverage.

Without pads on, the May and June training sessions for the Redskins truly amount to on-the-field study sessions. Rookies need to learn the defense, the calls, and the speed of the NFL. For now, Riley is encouraged. 

"We're getting the scheme down. The biggest part of defense is communication, I feel good about everybody learning."

Smith should feel good too. His coaches and teammates have praised him, and he's got a fellow Stephenson Jaguar looking out for him. 

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With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

After an important road win in Tampa, the Redskins stock is soaring. The team is 6-3 and two games up in the NFC East.

For individual players, Josh Doctson headlines the stock surge but a pair of defenders are moving the other way. Let's dig into the Redskins stock report.

Stock up - Josh Doctson - The third-year wide receiver has scored in two straight games and has caught seven of 10 balls thrown his way. The yardage numbers don't jump off the page, but all four catches in Tampa were important. Further, Doctson rebounded from a tough game against Atlanta where he dropped two passes and got flagged for a (wrong) taunting penalty. Most impressive with Doctson? The touchdown in Tampa came off schedule and showed that he kept working back to his QB once the play broke down. That will garner more trust from Alex Smith, and maybe more chances for big plays down the backstretch of the year.

Stock down - Danny Johnson - For an undrafted free agent out of Southern, Johnson has had a remarkable season. In Tampa, he did not have a remarkable game and got replaced on the field by Greg Stroman. Let Jay Gruden explain, "Danny had a good week of practice. He filled in for Stroman when Stroman had the hip issue last week and we thought we'd give Danny a shot to start. Danny was playing a little soft [coverage] there for a little while, so we decided to give Stroman a crack at it." Once Stroman got in, he grabbed an interception and had a nice pass breakup downfield. Johnson has a firm roster spot - the Redskins just released Josh Holsey - but looks like he fell behind Stroman on the depth chart. 

Stock up - Kapri Bibbs - With Chris Thompson on the shelf and a murky timetable for his return, Bibbs is getting more and more chances on the field. And increasingly, he's delivering when he gets looks. Against Tampa, he ran the ball three times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards. He also had a huge gain just before halftime, the Redskins first big chunk play in weeks that Bibbs took after a screen pass, but it got called back on a holding flag. 

Stock down - Pernell McPhee - No player wants to be a healthy scratch, but that's just what happened to McPhee last week in Tampa. Jay Gruden explained: "Unfortunately I had to sit McPhee, not performance related, but just I had to get another body on the offensive line because we're banged up." It was mostly a work of roster construction that landed McPhee on the inactive list, but still, Cassanova McKinzy made the active roster after being on the practice squad. McKinzy showed some ability rushing the passer, and he can play special teams. This could be a situation worth monitoring. 

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Dustin Hopkins isn't 100-percent so the Redskins reportedly worked out five kickers

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Dustin Hopkins isn't 100-percent so the Redskins reportedly worked out five kickers

Lost in the fact that Tress Way is having a stellar season is that his fellow specialist, Dustin Hopkins, is getting it done, too.

The Redskins' kicker has made 17 of 19 field goals so far in 2018, giving him an 89.5-percent conversion rate on kicks. Against Carolina, he nailed a career-long 56-yarder, plus he's 17-for-17 on extra points.

But on Tuesday, a report came out saying that Hopkins is "a bit banged up." As of now, the Redskins don't know if they'll have Hopkins or not this weekend vs. the Texans, which is why they worked out five kickers five days before the Houston matchup, per Field Yates.

Among the group of free agents was former 'Skin Kai Forbath, who made 32-of-38 three-pointers for the Vikings in 2017. He was with the Burgundy and Gold from 2012-2014 and also briefly in 2015. 

Washington also reportedly tried out two maligned kickers in Roberto Aguayo and Blair Walsh. 

The Bucs drafted Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft but he flamed out in Tampa and was gone after a single year and poor 2017 preseason. Walsh, meanwhile, hasn't been the same since missing a 27-yard game winning playoff attempt versus Seattle while he was with Minnesota.  

Rounding out the group was Sam Ficken and Jon Brown.

The Redskins have been very reliant on both Hopkins and Way this season, seeing as their offense has had its issues. They've needed Hopkins to cash in on field goals to avoid wasting points and Way to help win the field position battle each week.

For some franchises, losing a kicker for a week or two wouldn't be much of a problem. And while Washington could very well be OK without Hopkins, they'd rather not have to bring in a new foot for any amount of time.

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