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Need to Know: 5 reasons for the Redskins to be optimistic about the 2014 season

Jun 22, 2014, 6:02 AM EDT

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Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 22, 32 days before the Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

After their 3-13 debacle in 2013 the Redskins got a new coach and some new key players, giving them some reasons to be optimistic about their prospects for 2014. Here are five reasons for them to be optimistic.

Improved pass rush—Between the addition of Jason Hatcher and a more aggressive scheme on defense, the Redskins should be able to get more heat on the quarterback this year. That should not only improve their sack total (36 in 2013, tied for 21st in the NFL), it should lead to quarterbacks throwing the ball up for grabs.

Improved special teams—New special teams coach Ben Kotwica is smart and experienced and it appears that teams will be more of an emphasis this year. But the main reason to think that the kicking units will get better is that they have nowhere to go but up.

Strong rushing game—The Redskins were fifth in the NFL in rushing yards last year and with Alfred Morris returning, they should be able to move the ball on the ground. Will Jay Gruden get too pass happy? That seems unlikely, as the Bengals were in the top 10 in rushing attempts two out of the three years he was calling plays as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati.

A healthy and prepared Robert Griffin III—The 2012 rookie of the year did not really have a shot at repeating his debut season performance. The knee injury he suffered in the playoffs robbed him of preparation time on the field in the spring and summer and the bulky brace he had to wear hampered his mobility on the field in the fall. With full preparation time and full speed, Griffin will be much better this year than last.

A deep receiving threat—The addition of DeSean Jackson adds a dimension that the receiving corps hasn’t had in years. If things work out on the field as they do on paper (not always a given), Jackson should make big plays for the offense while helping create some wide open spaces for other pass catchers on other plays.

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Timeline

—It’s been 175 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 77 days until they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Training camp 32; Preseason opener vs. Patriots 46; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 84

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