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Redskins roster hopefuls get an added boost on special teams

Redskins roster hopefuls get an added boost on special teams

Deshazor Everett exited the Redskins locker room this week after another preseason practice under a brutal August sun. 
 
In brief small talk as the backup safety departed, a reporter casually mentioned special teams, that unglamorous part of NFL life that can determine jobs, games and careers far beyond its limited scope during games. 
 
Everett cursed, shook his head and walked away. If his reaction was purposefully dramatic and at least part in jest, it was still telling. Few NFL players want to be pegged as specialists. Yet it was special teams that helped Everett win and keep a roster spot with Washington during training camp in 2015. He has plenty of current teammates facing that same scenario this season. 
 
“That’s always an issue. You come down to the fourth, fifth receiver, which one is the best on special teams?” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Fifth, sixth corner, special teams. The outside linebacker, special teams. The middle linebacker, they’ve got to be able to play [special] teams. Tight end, third tight end has to be able to play some [special] teams. Ideally, you’d like one of your running backs to play [special] teams. That may not be the case this year, we’ll wait and see.”
 
An undrafted free agent from Texas A&M, Everett worked to become a quality special teams player because it was a ticket to stay in the league. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut him early in training camp in 2015, but the Redskins sustained a rash of injuries in the secondary that summer and quickly signed Everett. They needed depth at cornerback and safety, but also liked what Everett brought to the table on special teams. 
 
Later that first year, Everett made a pair of special teams tackles in the NFC East-clinching victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16. He only took snaps on defense in four games in 2015, but played in 11. In 2016, Everett played in all 16 games, but again only took defensive snaps in four of them. But by 2017 he started eight of 14 games and was limited to special teams duty just twice. You can forgive Everett if he doesn’t want to go back to a special-teams only role. 
 
Jehu Chesson knows the feeling. A fourth-round pick in 2017 by the Kansas City Chiefs, Chesson had two catches as a rookie, but was cut by the Chiefs last summer at the end of training camp and signed by the Redskins. He bounced between the active roster and the practice squad and had just one catch, but he appeared in 12 games on special teams and drew attention for his work there. On a roster crowded with young receivers, Chesson’s play on special teams could earn him a spot this time. It will be close.  
 
That’s not necessarily the way he’d want it. Chesson was drafted in the middle rounds, after all, and had 114 catches and 12 touchdowns in four years at Michigan. But, for now, it’s a way to stick just like Everett did. And special teams success can carry over onto the field of play. 
 
“If you go down on kickoff and make a big tackle and then the defense goes three-and-out and you’re back out there on punt return and you punish the gunner, it definitely carries over,” Chesson said. “If you get back out there on offense after that, you’re already going. It’s positive momentum.”
 
Compare Chesson to fellow wide receiver Darvin Kidsy, who is making his own case for a job, but will likely do so without special teams as a factor. Kidsy played 32 snaps against Cleveland on offense earlier this month in the first preseason game and 26 more against Cincinnati, but didn’t take a snap on special teams in either game.  
 
Chesson, meanwhile, had 21 snaps on offense against the Browns and 15 against the Bengals, but also played on 21 of 56 special-teams snaps in those games. Kidsy knows the value added from a big play on special teams. As a sophomore at North Texas, he proudly said he was the No. 1 play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 on Sept. 22, 2014 with a jaw-dropping 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against Nicholls State. It matters.  
 
“It plays a big part,” tight end Jeremy Sprinkle said. “Make a big play there you stand out, you get recognition from coaches.”
 
Sprinkle learned as a rookie watching former Redskins tight end Niles Paul, who was a special teams captain for years with Washington, but also had a 39-catch season in 2014 and forged a role on offense until he left via free agency after the 2017 season. Sprinkle, even if his roster spot is secure, is trying to make that same leap. And every little bit helps.  
 
“I’m watching special teams everyday on tape and games, finding out who’s good, who’s struggling,” Gruden said. “If it’s close, we’re going to err on the side of special teams." 

 

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The Redskins defensive line is generating a ton of hype, and here are nine quotes to prove it

The Redskins defensive line is generating a ton of hype, and here are nine quotes to prove it

If you're looking for a reason to buy into the 2019 Redskins — and plenty of fans are — then direct your eyes straight to their defensive line. In fact, one player is already doing just that.

"I'm excited because of how well our defense is playing," Nick Sundberg told the Redskins Talk podcast on Tuesday. "Watching that D-line fly around is a lot of fun. They're young and they're a force."

Sundberg's a smart man. That unit, led by Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis, figures to be a game-wrecking, running back tossing, quarterback harassing group all season long.

The long snapper isn't the only one to be extremely complimentary of the defensive line, either. All offseason long, it's a spot that's drawn praise from other players, coaches, and analysts.

Of course, and this is something Allen loves to point out, words don't add up to anything. Those guys still need to produce, or else all this talk is a waste.

However, it's still fun to bask in all the hype that's building behind Washington's defensive front. So, in case you're one of those fans who need something to believe in, these nine glowing quotes about that position should help get you there:

Jim Tomsula (from minicamp): "I feel really good about the people that are in the room. It's the quality of guys. We all talk all about how long their arms are, how many times they bench press this or that, they talk about what the 40 is. The one thing that gets overlooked a lot is the type of individual it is, the makeup of the guy... They're just really, really good guys that can turn it on on the football field.

Jay Gruden (from minicamp): "It's the effort, the tenacity they play with, the accountability they demand of each other. It's everything you want in a player both physically and, obviously, mentally and leadership-wise."

Allen (from minicamp): "When you have a group of guys who hold you accountable, it really pushes you to be your best every day. The thing we always say is, ‘You should never feel comfortable.’ We try to make everything and everybody uncomfortable in this building. That is just our goal every day, to make it as uncomfortable as possible for everybody to help promote growth."

Rob Ryan (from minicamp) on how the DL makes his job as LBs coach easier: "I like this setup. [Tomsula's] got some great players upfront. He's such a great teacher, it's been a lot of fun just to watch here. [The linebackers] are clean on a lot of stuff that usually you have to work through." 

Josh Norman (from training camp): "I don’t even want to talk about D-line because I get [excited] just talking about those guys because they are just so freakin' phenomenal – they really are. Those bulls up front really make everything go for us. If they can thread through the offensive line like they’ve been doing... oh man, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with."

Brandon Scherff (from training camp): "We’ve got an amazing D-front upfront, and even the guys behind them are doing a really good job. That's what we like going against in practice, you know, we're practicing against some of the best guys in the NFL."

NFL Network's Charley Casserly (from two weeks ago): "Matt Ioannidis is one of the most under-the-radar good pass rushers in the NFL."

National NFL writer Doug Farrar (from last week): "Been reviewing Daron Payne's rookie tape this morning. Frightening combination of short-area speed and aggressive strength. Double-digit sack potential in a well-rounded overall package." 

NFL Network's Brian Baldinger (after Bengals preseason matchup): "Redskins defensive line had a dominant performance... Will be a problem."

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Redskins vs. Falcons Preseason Week 3: Time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Redskins vs. Falcons Preseason Week 3: Time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Redskins are 0-2 in preseason play thus far but are looking to leave Atlanta with a W as they head down to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Week 3. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. this Thursday.

There are two preseason games left, and Jay Gruden still has not named a Week 1 starting quarterback.

Trent Williams has yet to return to anything Washington Redskins related, and all eyes are on Donald Penn and Wes Martin to carve their niche, perhaps in a starting unit. 

There is plenty more to look for in the next Redskins game, and NBC Sports Washington is here to provide everything else.

You can live stream every preseason game LIVE on the MyTeams App.

REDSKINS at FALCONS, PRESEASON WEEK 3

Who: Washington Redskins vs. Atlanta Falcons
What: Game 3 of the 2019 NFL Preseason
When: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA

REDSKINS vs. FALCONS HOW TO WATCH

TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream:  MyTeams App (all four preseason games)
Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Point Spread: Washington, -3
Over/Under: 41.5
Weather: 92 degrees, partly cloudy

REDSKINS vs. FALCONS TV SCHEDULE:

5:00 PM: Redskins 100
5:30 PM: Redskins Nation
6:00 PM: Redskins 100
6:30 PM: Redskins Kickoff Live
7:30 PM: NFL Preseason: Redskins @ Atlanta Falcons
10:30 PM: Redskins Postgame Live
11:30 PM: D.C. Sports Live

REDSKINS 2019 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Week 1: Thurs., 8/8, vs. Cleveland Browns, (30-10, L)
Week 2: Thurs., 8/15, vs. Cincinnati Bengals, (23-13, L)
Week 3: Thurs., 8/22, vs. Atlanta Falcons, 7:30 p.m. 
Week 4: Thurs., 8/29, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 7:30 p.m.

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