Monthly Archives: September 2017

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ASHBURN, Virginia — The Washington Redskins’ outlook at safety changed dramatically this weekend with Su’a Cravens’ possible retirement. It’s created a question for the franchise and an opportunity for several players.

Keep in mind with Cravens: He had not yet played a game in the NFL at safety after serving as a nickel/dime linebacker his rookie season. There was uncertainty about how well he’d do in 2017. So it’s hard to say exactly what the Redskins have lost. That said, he had been working with the starters since the spring so they clearly viewed him as their best safety option. He offered energy, size and instincts.

However, he’d also missed valuable time this summer with a knee injury.

But now the Redskins have no choice but to replace him; whether it’s for a month or the season remains to be seen. The Redskins can leave him on the exempt list for up to a month before a decision must be made about his future. It also will be interesting to see how Cravens would be welcomed upon his return. After all, some teammates were upset with his wanting to retire — and with telling them in a group chat Saturday.
Washington’s Su’a Cravens had been working with the starters at safety since the spring. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Here are Washington’s options:

Deshazor Everett: He’ll get the first shot at the starting job; how long he keeps that position will be up to him. Everett has improved since switching to safety in the 2016 offseason. He adds toughness to the defensive backfield and will be a core special teams player if nothing else. In an ideal situation, Everett would be a key backup and special teamer. But he’s been presented a golden opportunity to prove he can be more.

“I’ve got total confidence in Shaze, man,” Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger said. “Ever since Su’a was hurt, he’s been in there making good plays, making good strides, getting better week to week.”

Montae Nicholson: The rookie fourth-round pick missed a lot of training camp while recovering from a shoulder injury. But he quickly showed in camp that he liked to play physical, coming up hard against the run — something he also did in preseason games, too. Even with Cravens here, Nicholson might have been their future starter at safety anyway (Cravens has more versatility and covers better; but if he slipped Nicholson would be there). He’s considered explosive with good range — the Redskins always liked the speed they saw in college. At 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, Nicholson is built well for the position. He’s the one to watch develop out of this group.

Stefan McClure: He was the summer surprise — there’s always one — and up until the preseason finale, it’s hard to say he would have made the roster. But he played well — and it wasn’t just that he made a couple plays, it was how he looked in doing them and what he was doing right. It also makes sense that with the Cravens situation unfolding on cutdown day, they’d keep someone extra. McClure, a 2016 undrafted free agent out of Cal, signed with Washington one week into training camp. The Redskins like how well he moved in the secondary and that he played physical. If nothing else, he could provide young legs on special teams.

DeAngelo Hall: He’s included here because in six weeks he could be an option. The Redskins placed Hall on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from last season’s torn ACL. There’s a good deal of respect for him in the building and they wanted his leadership (and wisdom) around, too. Hall has been serving almost as an assistant coach since camp opened. The hard part is that Hall was still transitioning to safety when hurt in Week 3 last season. Where will his game be when he returns? That’s what the Redskins want to see. At the least, he’d give them veteran depth. If he can give them more? They’ll be happy. But a lot will depend on how others have developed during this time.

One (possible) bonus for Washington: Swearinger. Though he’s in his first season with the Redskins, Swearinger took charge of the secondary in a big way. He’s vocal and decisive in his calls. He’s playing with his fourth franchise, but he’s coming off his best season and the talent that helped him become a second-round pick in 2013 remains. His leadership and communication skills will help any newcomer playing alongside him.

It won’t make all the difference — a strong pass rush (and a healthy Junior Galette) would help, too. Ultimately, the other safety will have to make plays or at least prevent them. But the Redskins hope other factors can soften any blow from losing Cravens.

“It’s next-guy-up,” cornerback Josh Norman said. “It’s like that with 31 other teams in the NFL. It’s the way of the world of this business. We move forward. We’ve got those guys behind us that can do it. We’ll put a good product on the field come Sunday. Trust and believe that.”


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The Washington Redskins’ offense, which has struggled this summer, received a dose of good news: Tight end Jordan Reed was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday. Reed was placed on the list at the start of training camp thanks to a sprained left big toe. He also had sprained his left ankle, compensating for the toe issue. But all along, Reed maintained optimism that he would return soon and was eyeing this week. On Aug. 13, Reed started wearing a wider cleat and using orthotics to better cushion his toe. After doing so, he said he did not feel the toe when making hard plant-and-cuts. Reed and coach Jay Gruden both have been optimistic from the start of camp that he would be back in time for the Sept. 10 season opener vs. Philadelphia. The offense needs him. In two preseason games, the Redskins’ starting offense has yet to gain a first down in four series against the opposition’s No. 1 defense. It hasn’t helped that Reed couldn’t play and that receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson played for the first time Saturday night in a 21-17 loss to Green Bay. Considering that the Redskins lost receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson in the offseason, they know Reed and Crowder in particular are key to their success. Reed has been the top target in the Redskins’ passing offense for most of the past three seasons. In the past two seasons, quarterback Kirk Cousins owns a 121.4 passer rating when targeting Reed. During that time, he has caught a combined 153 passes with 17 touchdowns. He has also missed a combined six games because of injuries in those seasons — and 20 for his four-year career. The Redskins like using two-tight-end sets, knowing that with Reed and Vernon Davis, the defense must honor both the run and the pass.

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The Philadelphia Eagles clinched their 30-17 victory Sunday over the Washington Redskins on a 20-yard fumble return by defensive lineman Fletcher Cox.

It’s fair to question whether the play should have been ruled a fumble at all.

On the play (which came with less than two minutes left in the game), referee Brad Allen ruled that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins lost the ball when hit by Eagles pass-rusher Brandon Graham — and, presumably, before his hand started moving forward. Cox scooped up the ball and ran for the score.

Replays, however, showed the ball appearing to move forward from Cousins’ hand. In that circumstance, according to NFL rules, the play should have been called an incomplete pass.

Here’s how the NFL rule book defines a forward pass:

“(a) the ball initially moves forward (to a point nearer the opponent’s goal line) after leaving the passer’s hand(s); or

(b) the ball first touches the ground, a player, an official, or anything else at a point that is nearer the opponent’s goal line than the point at which the ball leaves the passer’s hand(s).

(c) When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional movement forward of his hand starts a forward pass.”

In watching the replay, you could argue that all three options apply to this play.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron upheld Allen’s call in replay review.

As a reminder, Riveron replaced Dean Blandino during the offseason and the NFL is starting its first season in which the final say of all replays are being decided by the league office in New York. The NFL’s standard for overturning calls has not been altered, however. The mistake must be clear and obvious in order to merit a change.

Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, now a broadcaster on Fox Sports, said during the game that he would have overturned the call. It might not have changed the outcome, but the fumble ruling and subsequent Eagles touchdown eliminated any chances of a Redskins victory.

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ASHBURN, Virginia — The Washington Redskins lost one quarterback but found another as they formed their practice squad Sunday.

They signed Alek Torgersen, who was cut by Atlanta on Saturday, to be on their practice squad — and, in essence, be their third quarterback.

Nate Sudfeld, whom they drafted in the seventh round last year, spurned the Redskins and instead was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad.
Quarterback Alek Torgersen, who was first signed by the Falcons as an undrafted free agent, has landed a spot on the Redskins’ practice squad. Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire
Torgersen signed with Atlanta as an undrafted free agent this spring after playing at Penn. As a senior, Torgersen completed 66.9 percent of his passes with 2,231 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.

During the preseason, Torgersen, who is 6-foot-2, 229 pounds, completed 3 of 15 passes for 76 yards and two interceptions. He did not play in a pro-style offense at Penn.

Here’s a look at the other players the Redskins signed to their practice squad Sunday:

DL Brandon Banks: He spent training camp with the Redskins. At 6-foot-3, 267 pounds he’ll need to develop into more of a specialist in the Redskins’ defense. Banks, a rookie, played collegiately at Charlotte and was signed as an undrafted free agent.

WR Robert Davis: He was a raw prospect drafted in the sixth round out of Georgia State. Davis has good size (6-foot-3, 217 pounds) and runs well. His catching improved throughout camp and he played physical, which the Redskins liked. He can help on several special teams units because he is willing to play physical.

TE Manasseh Garner: He provides the Redskins with another tight end who can line up as a fullback if necessary, similar to what Niles Paul does. The Redskins don’t have a fullback so they need someone with versatility. At 6-foot-2, 241 pounds, Garner, a first-year player out of Pitt, provides some.
WR Maurice Harris: He was on the Redskins’ practice squad last season before earning a spot on the active roster. Harris finished with eight receptions for 66 yards, showing good hands and route-running. The Redskins like that he can run routes from all three receiver spots, but he also missed the bulk of camp with a knee injury this summer, limiting him to the final preseason game. Harris’ special teams contribution would be as a punt returner.

G Kyle Kalis: He was an undrafted free agent out of Michigan who worked primarily at left guard during training camp.

LB Pete Robertson: He flashed during preseason games as an outside linebacker. He’s cousins with Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. But Robertson is a good story because of what he overcame to even reach this point. Before the 2016 draft, he suffered a herniated disc, causing nerves to pinch — and that limited his left leg. Robertson recorded 12 sacks during his junior season at Texas Tech.

S Fish Smithson: The Redskins kept four safeties on the active roster — one of whom is a rookie — and have a fifth, Su’a Cravens on the exempt/left squad list. They also have DeAngelo Hall on the physically unable to perform list. In other words, they could use more players to develop here. Smithson intercepted a pass in the preseason and was often around the ball. He’s listed at 5-foot-11, 196 pounds. Smithson was steady in camp.