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What will the Redskins do with four starters out?

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What will the Redskins do with four starters out?

Injury report for Redskins vs. Falcons

Redskins

Out

CB Chris Culliver (knee)—He could be the Redskins’ best corner but he has been suspended for one game and last week he was hampered by the knee injury that could keep him out against the Falcons. If he can’t go, it look like Will Blackmon, picked up in Week 2, will start opposite Bashaud Breeland. That would leave undrafted rookies Deshazor Everett and Quinton Dunbar, who reported to camp as a wide receiver, as the backups against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and company.

CB DeAngelo Hall (toe)—He started on one-field rehab this week and Jay Gruden said that he was progressing better than expected. The best guess now is that he could be back for the Bucs in Week 7 or, more likely, the Patriots in Week 9 after the bye. See above for the situation at cornerback.

TE Jordan Reed (concussion)—It didn’t look like the team’s leading receiver in terms of yardage took a particularly jarring hit in the late going against the Eagles but it was enough to put him in the league’s concussion protocol program. Gruden said that he was still suffering from symptoms as of Thursday and the process of getting him back on the field can’t even begin until those clear up. In his absence, Derek Carrier, acquired in a trade on August 21, will start and Antony McCoy, signed as a free agent a week before the season started, will back him up. We could see a heavier does of fullback Darryl Young and/or tackle Tom Compton to help with blocking.

WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring)—While Jackson getting out on the field to do some very limited practice activities is a good sign, it’s doesn’t even inspire cautious optimism that he will be able to play. It does bode well for him making his return next week against the Jets or, at the latest, against the Bucs. Rashad Ross will be active and will run some of the deep patterns that Jackson normally runs but there is no replacing him.

Questionable

ILB Perry Riley (calf)—Riley has missed the last two games with a strained calf he sustained during the Rams game. He has been practicing on a limited basis all week and he said earlier this week that his injury is feeling much better and that he is feeling optimistic about playing. Should there be a setback Will Compton would start a third straight game in his place.

Probable

Both WR Pierre Garçon (knee) and OLB Ryan Kerrigan (hip) missed some plays against the Eagles but returned to the game and have practiced fully all week.

Falcons

Out

LB Justin Durant (elbow)—He started the Falcons’ first four games at weakside linebacker but left last week’s win over the Texans after just seven snaps with a sprained elbow. He has not practiced all week and most around the team doubt that he will play. If Durant, the team’s leading tackler this year, is out then Joplo Bartu, who started 27 games in his first two seasons with the Falcons, will get the nod.

Questionable

WR Julio Jones (toe/hamstring)--Don't even think about it. Although his designation means there is a 50 percent chance he won't play, it would be a shocker if he misses the game.

Probable

S Ricardo Allen (knee)—Allen started the Falcons’ first three games but missed last week’s game with a sprained MCL. According to ESPN reporter Vaughn McClure Allen seemed to be running straight line normally but was having problems backpedaling. Coach Dan Quinn said that he will start.

RB Tevin Coleman (ribs)—Coleman missed the last two games after he broke a rib in Week 2. He will be back and share playing time with Devonta Freeman, who has played well in the rookie’s absence. 

[RELATED: Reed suffered multiple injuries against the Eagles]

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Need to Know: What’s the outlook for the Redskins’ secondary in 2018?

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Need to Know: What’s the outlook for the Redskins’ secondary in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 25, 31 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Fan questions—The secondary

To be sure, there are reasons to be concerned about the secondary and we’ll get into those in a bit. But the popular notion that the secondary struggled last year is not accurate.

Do you want to go standard stats? They were ninth in the league in passing yards allowed and 10th in opponent passer rating last year.

Do you prefer more advanced analytics? They were sixth in defensive passing DVOA and 11th in adjusted net yards per attempt.

That’s not a great pass defense but it was a pretty good one. It should be noted that they also benefited from a solid pass rush; they were seventh in the league in sack percentage. Still, you don’t finish in the top third of the league in pass defense without at least a competent secondary.

The question is, will it remain competent? Kendall Fuller was indeed a key player, one of the best slot corners in the league. Bashaud Breeland was inconsistent, but he did shine on occasion. But the fact that he is still available as a free agent indicates what the league thinks of him, problems passing the physical notwithstanding. Those two will have to be replaced.

It is likely that Quinton Dunbar will take Breeland’s spot on the outside. That is at worst a lateral exchange if not an improvement. Dunbar has been working for three years to get this opportunity and there is confidence among the coaches and, perhaps more importantly, the players that he is ready.

Orlando Scandrick is the probable starter at slot. He is a downgrade from Fuller, no question about it. If he is healthy—a big if—Scandrick is good enough to get the job done. Don’t let the star he wore on the side of his helmet for so many years blind you to the fact that he’s a solid player.

The depth at slot consists of second-year player Josh Holsey, who played all of nine snaps on defense last year, and rookie Greg Stroman. That’s not ideal but most of the other teams in the NFL have a similar depth chart.

The wild card who could be the difference between this secondary being better than last year or worse is Fabian Moreau. He played only 59 defensive snaps as a rookie but he did show off his speed and hard-hitting style on some of his 349 special teams snaps. During the offseason practices that were open to the media, Moreau was mostly Josh Norman’s backup at left cornerback. The feeling is that he won’t remain a reserve. We will have to see how things sort out during training camp.

There should be some improvement at safety if Montae Nicholson figures out how to stay on the field in his second year. If he struggles with injuries again and Deshazor Everett has to line up alongside D.J. Swearinger for a good chunk of the season, the safeties are no worse off because that's what happened last year. 

The bottom line is that a secondary that was good last year may take a step down in 2018 but the decline should not be steep. And if Moreau can be the player the organization thought he could be when they used a third-round pick for him, it could be just as good if not better.

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.

Tandler on Twitter

I tweeted this in response to a discussion about the relative popularity of the NFL and NBA. Albert Breer’s tweet on the TV ratings for the leagues’ respective drafts was the nexus of the discussion.

Timeline  

Redskins cornerback Josh Holsey was born on this date in 1994.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 31
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 45
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 59

The Redskins last played a game 176 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 76 days.

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Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

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Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

As June minicamp concluded, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden pulled no punches when asked about expectations for new quarterback Alex Smith. 

"He has got to get it down by the first game," Gruden said of Smith. 

While that might not sound overly demanding, remember this is Smith's first season in Washington. The QB will be playing with new teammates and implementing new terminology. 

Still, Smith is a veteran with a lot of experience, and frankly, it seems like Gruden isn't worried about a transition period. 

"We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now," the coach said. "This isn’t a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away."

Gruden made things quite clear. He expects the best from Smith, yesterday. 

Those comments created headlines, but there was something else the coach said about his passer that also stood out. Asked about Smith's veteran presence, Gruden talked about what the quarterback might mean for his teammates. 

"The whole job a quarterback has is obviously getting the most out of the people around you. That’s what I think he does as good as anybody," Gruden said. "He’ll get the most out of the tight ends. He’ll get the most out of the backs."

The coach continued, and things got a bit more interesting.

"He’ll get the most out of the receivers and offensive line because they’re going to want to play for him and they’re going to feel confident that he’s going to make something happen in a positive way or at least give it everything he’s got and take responsibility if something doesn’t work out."

Redskins fans are often a weirdly divided bunch. Many liked former QB Kirk Cousins but plenty did not think he was worth the type of money he was paid the last two seasons. Along the way, some fans will read Gruden's comments about making something happen and taking responsibility as a jab at Cousins. That's probably wrong. 

Remember, Trent Williams played through a serious knee injury last season. Asked why, Williams said he wanted to be out there to protect Cousins. Guys played for Cousins. 

The responsibility comment might mean something else, though. There was a rather hostile back-and-forth last season between Gruden and Cousins last season when the QB and coach disagreed about taking more risks with the football. A quick reminder of the scene: Cousins told a reporter that he would throw 20 interceptions if he played like Gruden wanted. The coach responded that while the interceptions might pile up, the QB would also throw 60 touchdowns. (Relive it here)

Throughout his career, Smith has thrown fewer interceptions than Cousins. But that doesn't mean Smith doesn't take risks or put his receivers in position to make plays. 

It's entirely possible Gruden simply expects Smith, a veteran, to be a responsible player and leader. And it's likely that comment had nothing to do with the Redskins previous quarterbacks. 

The bottom line is that Smith better be ready to go Week 1, and his coach made that clear. And if Smith isn't, Gruden expects his quarterback to take responsibility. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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