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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Jones, Norman, defensive improvement

Jul 9, 2016, 5:49 AM EDT

Matt-Jones-camp

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 9, 19 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 181 days ago. It will be 65 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 6; Preseason opener @ Falcons 33; Final roster cut 56

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the last week’s most popular posts from Real Redskins and from CSNmidatlantic.com.

NTK: Three under the radar Redskins storylines—The fun of training camp is getting to watch day after day and pay attention to everything. You can observe only so much in a no-pads OTA session that last about and hour and 45 minutes. At that point you can really get a feel for how some of the roster battles and starting position competitions are shaping up. About two and a half weeks and I’ll be on my way.

NTK: How much improvement for the Redskins’ D?—There are areas of weakness on every team, especially one that is coming off of seasons as disastrous as the Redskins endured in 2013 and 2014. It takes time to fix everything and some problem areas will linger. This seems to be the case with the Redskins’ defensive line, a unit that was in need of major repair but just got a few patches here and there. I see them continuing to struggle against the run.

True or false: Redskins’ Jones will crack 1,000 yards—Jones has more pressure on him than any other Redskin outside of Kirk Cousins. Since a thousand yards rushing over 16 games is just 62.5 yards per game, Jones should be able to it if he stays healthy and if he plays well enough to keep Jay Gruden from trying to come up with an alternative. I predicted he’ll be able to do it but a lot can go wrong.

True or False: Bruton will start at safety for the Redskins—I’m a bit more confident about by stance in this discussion with Tarik. Unless Duke Ihenacho seriously outplays Bruton in August, I think they will look at Duke’s injury history (four games played in last two seasons) and have him come off of the bench. The prospects of Bruton staying at the top of the depth chart for 16 games are less certain but he should be there Week 1.

NTK: Norman should live up to expectations this year—With big money comes high expectations. I think Norman will do fine for the first half of that big contract he got but I’m not so sure that he’ll be as good in years four and five.

In case you missed it 

  1. redskins12thman - Jul 9, 2016 at 8:52 AM

    I’ve seen the CSN Mid-Atlantic special teams preview. Thank goodness for Scot McCloughan and Ben Kotwica turning around the (downright embarrassing) putrid play in this phase of the game; still, there is room for improvement, especially among the returners.

    I saw that Chris Thompson, Will Blackmon, Dashaun Phillips and Jarvis Turner were listed as potential challengers to Ross and Crowder. Did Reggie Diggs, Maurice Harris and Valdez Showers get an opportunity to show what they could offer in the return game and none of them shined? I would have thought that UFA wide receivers would all be looked at as potential return men too.

    • mtskins - Jul 9, 2016 at 9:36 AM

      Think it’s good to see them making strides in this area too l and agree that there is room for improvement. It will be interesting to see if Crowder can adjust to returning punts in the NFL in his second year

      On a related note it was fun to see the video on Banks returning the missed FG for 121. He provided some highlights in the return game while he was here and I’m glad he’s still making plays.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 5:27 PM

      I don’t even know how many times I felt a victory was hopeless because of what I saw on Special Teams. Including last year (even though they won some of those games). One note though, injuries have devastated our Special Teams the past couple years. Hopefully that gets better. You always hear this, but Special Teams truly are an underrated part of the game. They can make the difference.

      I would love to have better return men. But I’ll settle for better coverage units and better blocking. The areas I hope they work on the most are penalties and blown assignments. Get those two areas tighter and it could make a huge impact. I believe we have a good kicker and punter now; so that’s taken care of. Just play with more discipline and we should put the team in position to win. Special Teams may not win the game for us, but we need them to stop hurting us first.

      • John - Jul 10, 2016 at 11:39 AM

        They have also cut loose a number of players who were key on special teams.

        Alonzo: To much money for a special teams/backup.

        Doughty: Not good enough at safety.

        Paul: Broken ankle last year.

        Heyward: Never stepped on the field. Unless it was to be injured.

        The backup linebacker #50 from Baylor, Robert…?

        Point is they cut loose or had injuries and with thing in flux, they’ve not got solid replacements.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 10, 2016 at 11:56 AM

          I understand your points about the cuts. But that’s part of the territory. Every team deals with that. Being a special teams coach has to be one of the hardest jobs in the NFL because cuts come with the territory. Most of the squad is made of fringe players or rookies who may not have to contribute the following year.

          I’m not sure what your point is about Paul and Hayward though. Unless it was just that last year sucked because they were injured. Because Paul and Hayward are back but we also signed guys like Garvin and Bruton to help.

        • John - Jul 10, 2016 at 12:39 PM

          Paul, while injured last year, might not have been on special teams as much if he had played more with the offense. My point was that they had cut loose Doughty and Zo, who were key special teams performers for this team. On just about every punt or kickoff, it was Zo or Doughty or Paul being the 1st one down there on the tackle making the play. Heyward was supposed to replace Zo but has only been injured for 2 full seasons. Nobody has filled those roles.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 10, 2016 at 3:48 PM

          Paul’s injury hurt us in many ways. Obviously special teams and we all saw what the TE injuries did to our run game. I’m not saying they would have been good with him. But I have to believe it would have been better. Also, last offseason I was excited at the thought of the two TE sets we could run with Reed and Paul. Paul is a nightmare matchup in his own right. And what they do falls right into Cousin’s wheelhouse.

          Still, this team has to figure out how to do better on special teams despite injuries and cuts. Those things hurt every team’s STs every year. It’s where the reserves come from. Probably the easiest way to improve is with good kickers and return men. I believe we have the kickers (and that’s probably the biggest reason for our ST improvements) but now they need to work on returns. I said before, I would prefer to just have better gunners. A more disciplined unit. But that takes a lot of bodies playing well. Hopefully our returning and new ST leaders can run a tight ship and improve there. But I hope they’re seriously looking at a return specialist instead of just throwing players buried in the depth chart out there. I would rather give a roster spot to a Jacoby Jones type guy than Rashad Ross. I know that’s easier said than done, but I don’t even know if they’re looking.

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