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ASHBURN, Va. — Dave Gettleman’s trash seems to be the Washington Redskins’ treasure.

Three years after the-then Carolina Panthers general manager let cornerback Josh Norman out of his franchise tag, Gettleman opted for his New York Giants not to use the franchise tag on safety Landon Collins and let him go to free agency. Each time, Washington pounced and now has two big names in the secondary.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” coach Jay Gruden said Thursday. “You see it happening throughout the league a little bit now, but to have a chance to actually get one, it’s great.”

The Redskins actually got two after signing Collins to an $84 million, six-year contract with $45 million guaranteed. They’ve got a very motivated player who will see his former team twice this season and for years to come.

“It’s definitely circled on my schedule because at the end of the day, you always want to show a team why you should’ve kept a player,” Collins said Thursday after his introductory news conference. “It’s always something that pushes a player even more. It’s going to be a great opportunity to just play against them and showcase them why they should have re-signed” me.

Just like when Norman signed for $75 million over five years back in 2016, Collins wasn’t supposed to be available. The Giants could have franchise tagged Collins for $11.2 million or negotiated a long-term deal.

But last season didn’t make Collins enthusiastic about re-signing with New York, and he wound up with an average of $14 million a year.

“When we were going through the turmoil that was going on up there and all the craziness, all the trades, all the cuts, I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m here either,'” Collins said. “No talks was going on, nothing was being said. I was just going out there day by day, practice by practice handling my business. I don’t know what the future holds with the New York Giants, but I’m glad it happened because now I’m in that burgundy and gold.”

Since Gettleman took over as Giants GM, he has traded defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, cornerback Eli Apple and nose tackle Damon Harrison. Collins wasn’t at all surprised when Gettleman traded receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and defensive end Olivier Vernon earlier this week because things are certainly changing with his old team.

“I knew it was going to happen,” Collins said. “I just feel like (the Giants are) going in a different direction and we just are not in their vision.”

Collins, 25, doesn’t want to think about why he wasn’t in the Giants’ plans and hopes they’re happy about the four years he gave them. In that time, he had eight interceptions, and his 428 tackles lead all safeties since the start of the 2015 season.

Those ball-hawking skills drew the Redskins to Collins to solve an organizational problem of starting 17 different safeties in Gruden’s five years. Senior vice-president of player personnel Doug Williams has been watching Collins the past four years and is now glad to watch him up close for what he hopes will be a long time.

“When you see him on the field, you knew that he was one of the best football players on the field,” Williams said. “You’re talking about a 25-year-old you can see playing for the next six, seven years. And to be able to get him in the mix, put him in this defence with the guys, the young guys that we have up front, it’s hard to not want a guy like that on your football team.”

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — The beauty of Alex Smith, and what the Washington Redskins hoped to have in their new quarterback, was evident Sunday. He avoided bad plays and made good ones with his smarts, his legs, as well as with his arm.

Smith was far from the only reason Washington beat Arizona 24-6 on Sunday. But he orchestrated the offense in a performance the Redskins would like to see duplicated. Of course, it helps when a team can run the ball the way Washington did Sunday, finishing with 182 yards. Then again, part of the reason Washington ran well was because of Smith’s ability to handle a heavy dose of run-pass option plays. It’s what they hoped for when making the trade for him, moving on from Kirk Cousins.

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In his first start with the Redskins, Alex Smith averaged 3.2 air yards per attempt, his lowest in a game since Week 8 of 2015 (3.0 vs. Lions). The Redskins capitalized on Smith’s short passes, gaining 179 yards after the catch, including 71 by Adrian Peterson, his most in a game since 2011 (75 at Panthers).

Smith was 13-of-16 for 190 yards and 2 TD targeting running backs and tight ends, the fifth-most such yards in his career.

For a first game with a new quarterback, the Redskins were able to dig deep into their playbook. Why? Because they overloaded Smith at the start of camp with a heavier-than-normal installation of their offense and he showed he could handle it all. The key now will be to continue building on what they showed Sunday. The Week 1 output is even more impressive considering Washington’s offense had several key players either limited or out for much of camp because of lingering injuries and an abundance of caution.

On Sunday, Smith completed 21-of-30 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball eight times for 14 more yards and used his legs several other times to avoid danger, either throwing the ball away or running.

“I thought he was sensational,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.

Smith made strong decisions, which is one reason why they turned the ball over only one time — on a late fumble by Adrian Peterson. In Gruden’s first four openers, the Redskins had lost the turnover battle each time, thanks to 10 combined giveaways. Gruden mentioned the turnover stat leading into the game whenever he was asked about being 0-4 in openers.
Alex Smith executed the run-pass option plays effectively and the Redskins won in Week 1 for the first time in five years. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
Smith also avoided a safety when, with Robert Nkemdiche bursting clean through the middle, he flipped an underhand pass to receiver Josh Doctson. It was a pass that had no chance of being complete, but it saved the Redskins two points.

“That’s what he’s done his whole career,” Gruden said. “He does a great job not making a bad play worse and living to fight another day and moving on to the next play. That’s what he’s always done.”

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The Redskins used a variety of packages on offense, including seven different formations on the first drive alone. The run-pass options rely on Smith reading a defender on the go and then quickly deciding his next move.

The first RPO resulted in a 13-yard Chris Thompson run. Another time, on a third-and-12 in the fourth quarter, Smith saw that the Cardinals were going to blitz a defensive back from the slot. So Smith changed the play, giving slot receiver Jamison Crowder a shot down the seam. He caught a pass that gained 18 yards.
“He’s a great game manager and he gets us in the right calls,” Redskins tackle Morgan Moses said of Smith. “He doesn’t make mistakes and he doesn’t get flustered. He knows he’ll get hit sometimes and he bounces back up and keeps the ball moving.”

But again, it was more than that. His accuracy has been on display throughout his career as well as this summer. It was there again Sunday, notably on a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Reed, who stretched out for the pass against man coverage before lunging into the end zone.

There was also a 22-yard completion that resulted from Smith spinning out of the pocket, rolling to his left and throwing to Reed.

“He’s fun to watch in that regard,” Gruden said. “You always feel he’s going to make the right decision most of the time.”

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During Friday night’s 26-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, Redskins defensive lineman Anthony Lanier II recorded his first sack of the preseason. Though the takedown of quarterback Case Keenum will only show up in Lanier’s stats, he made sure to credit his fellow linemen for making it possible.

“Tim Settle did a great job putting pressure in the middle so it was open on both sides,” said Lanier. “So I was able to make more movement on this inside.”

Settle, a rookie from Virginia Tech, understood the importance of his role in the play, and was happy to see it pay off for Lanier and the defense.

“It feels good, you know, we help each other on the line. Somebody takes the pressure off of somebody for leaving them 1-on-1,” Settle said. “He took advantage of the situation and to see that flash, that was big time.”

This play — teammates working together to open up a clear path to the quarterback — is an example of something the Redskins defensive line is continuing to work toward: a fluid and cohesive group up front.

 

This defensive unit is a young one. Besides Ziggy Hood, who has been in the league for 10 years, a majority of the depth chart consists of players who only have three years or less of NFL experience.

Two of those are rookie Daron Payne and second-year veteran Jonathan Allen, who were former teammates at Alabama and referred to by many as the “Bama Bros”. Though still early in their careers, both have shown the potential to become dominant forces up front for years to come.

Cornerback Josh Norman has opted for a different nicknames for his two teammates, calling them the two “bulls” or “tanks,” but he also sees their promise, even comparing them to two of his former teammates in Carolina.

“Literally, those two bulls up front [Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne], remind me of KK and Star. Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short,” Norman said earlier this week. “When they played, there was a difference. Literally, a difference. They move men, and they got to the quarterback, and even get it out of their hands when they wanted to. That’s when a DB’s main play on the ball. Those two guys remind me of them, they’re just shorter impact tanks, though. Rocked up guys. I look at that and I loved it.”

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ASHBURN, Virginia — The Washington Redskins’ starting offensive line spent most of Thursday’s practice in a bad position: watching everyone else practice. That’s not what the Redskin need, but it is the reality of their situation.

The lone starter able to practice: left guard Shawn Lauvao. That could lead to a lot of shuffling for Sunday’s game vs. the Dallas Cowboy — or, at the least, a lot of walking wounded. And that could alter what the Redskins do offensively.

The injured starters include left tackle Trent Williams (knee), center Spencer Long (quads), right guard Brandon Scherff (knee) and right tackle Morgan Moses (ankles). Of this group, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he was most concerned about Long’s availability. Indeed, he was the one player not on the field working with the trainers during the portion of practice open to the media.

Williams’ situation isn’t new and he said he’ll keep playing on his knee until he can’t go anymore. But it does impact his game, particularly the ability to react to lateral movement or drive guys off the line. Moses struggled with his ability to move as well, getting beat a few times against the Eagles when he was unable to react to change-of-direction.

If Long can’t play, then rookie Chase Roullier would start. He played in the second half at guard against the Eagle after Scherff went out.

“He’s got a good demeanor,” Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “He can anchor well and he’s only going to get better. As a rookie is it a challenge? Sure, but we feel good about his potential and we just have to work through the growing pains.”

If Scherff also can’t play, then the Redskins could start undrafted rookie Tyler Catalina. They also have newly-signed veteran Tony Bergstrom and T.J. Clemmings, who has worked at each position but center.

But losing Scherff, combined with an ailing Williams, impacts the screen game. Both players move well in space, helping to create better lanes for running back Chris Thompson in the open field. Without them, the screen game changes, especially against a speedy linebacker group such as Dallas’. The screen has been a big part of Washington’s offensive success, so a drop-off there will result in needing to attack in different ways.

Also, backup tackle Ty Nsekhe did not practice but worked off to the side — light jogging and agility drills. If he were healthy, the Redskins could rest Williams or Moses. But Nsekhe is still recovering from his core muscle injury.

Linemen always point to familiarity with one another as a key reason for success. Sunday, the Redskins will have to hope that success stems from others being ready to fill in.
“It’s difficult but it’s something these guys have to be ready to do,” Gruden said. “Eventually your number is going to be called and you have to prepare that way.”

It’s not just the line that’s hurting. Linebackers Preston Smith (groin) and Mason Foster (shoulder) were limited as were safeties Deshazor Everett (hamstring) and Stefan McClure (hamstring/knee) and corners Josh Norman (rib) and Fabian Moreau (hamstring).

That lengthy list led to Gruden altering practice plans. They worked in shells instead of pads Thursday after having just a walk-through Wednesday.

They might have to have more than just a walk-through Saturday; perhaps, Gruden said, they’d have to jog through plays that they didn’t rep enough of during the week.

“It’s frustrating but it’s pro football and something we have to deal with,” Gruden said. “It’s just unfortunate.”

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Finally, football is officially back. If you are a diehard fan of the sport, you’ll likely take in every snap you can of the exhibition games, up until the last snap of the Super Bowl in February. It doesn’t matter to you, football is football. If you’re not really into the pre-season, you’re likely watching the team you like or are an actual fan of. The fans of the Washington Redskins have been itching for the team to step back on the field for well over 5 months now, and that time has come.

Here’s what you should be looking for against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday.

The Redskins key players likely will not get much playing time this week. At most, you get two drives out of the first string players, traditionally only one drive and done. With that being said, you still want to see fluidity from the offense.

How confident does Cousins look in general, with a revamped receiving corps?
How does the chemistry of Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Kirk Cousins look?
Can the offense move the ball effectively in their short time on the field?
How does Rob Kelley look in his first look of 2017 as the Redskins starting running back?
On defense you’d to see players playing fast and physical. The defense showed flaws very early in preseason a year ago, with the front 7 as a whole was getting gashed on occasions that made some conclude they were in for a long season defensively. Especially without a nose tackle. So defensively you want to see how the pre-season starters look.

How does the free agent addition of Stacy McGee affect the run game in his few reps come Thursday?
After missing the past 2 seasons, does Phil Taylor look like a possible solution at nose tackle for the Redskins?
When it comes to Su’a Cravens although he played safety in college, he is new to the position in the pros. So how comfortable does he look in live game situations? Cravens’ instincts have been on display in camp, but will it look different in any way come game day.
The reserves in the first, second, and fourth game is what is most important to pay attention to. Last year’s preseason is the reason UDFA Robert Kelley made the 53 man roster, and why Matt Ioannidis, the 2016 5th round draft pick, was demoted to the practice squad. So this is your time as a viewer, to make your predictions on who will be a key contributor to the Redskins during the regular season.

How do the ‘Bama rookies look in their first pro game? Jonathan Allen has improved each day of camp, while Ryan Anderson has shown the ability to win with leverage and strength at times.
Junior Galette has been a standout at camp, for the third straight year. The injuries the past two seasons has not been a concern to him, the explosion has been on display, and he’s a full go to this point. How many reps does he get, and how does he look going up against tackles that are not near the level of Trent Williams?
Free agent addition Zach Brown will get his first look as a Redskin, how does Brown look in coverage during his reps, and will his speed standout on this defense?
Can Samaje Perine prove to be the real deal? How does his strength standout against professional NFL athletes?
Offensively, there’s a position battle taking place at tight end and wide receiver. Where does Robert Davis, Zach Pascal, Brian Quick, and Matt Hazel stand after their first game as a Redskin?
Who inches closer to earning the third tight end spot? Niles Paul, Derek Carrier, or rookie tight end Jeremy Sprinkle? Sprinkle has had a solid camp to date, he may surprise some people this pre-season.
Plenty of questions, what are your answers? Vote to share your thoughts on the player you’re most looking forward to watching this week against Baltimore, and share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Redskins rookie cornerback Fabian Moreau will visit the doctors early next week to see where his health stands prior to the starting of training camp. He did not participate in offseason workouts.

As he continues to rehab from a torn pectoral suffered during UCLA’s pro day in March, Washington Redskins rookie cornerback Fabian Moreau will see a doctor early next week prior to training camp taking place at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
Moreau will learn then whether or not he’s been cleared to participate in on-field activities.

“Hopefully I get cleared, or if not, hopefully it’ll be soon,” Moreau told Larry Michael on “Redskins Nation” earlier this week. “But I feel good I feel ready to get back on the field.”

Moreau was selected in the third round out of the 2017 NFL Draft. After Washington selected defensive lineman Jonathan Allen in the first round and linebacker Ryan Anderson in the second round, the team set sights on a cornerback some had graded out as a first-round talent prior to his injury.

“I had him as a first-round corner before he tore his pec bench-pressing at his pro day,” noted NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. “He’s got speed, length and ball skills. He just needs to be more consistently physical and needs more snaps to understand the game a bit better.”

While the Redskins have high expectations for Moreau, he did not record a single rep during offseason workouts, instead rehabbing on the side with other recovering players like safeties Montae Nicholson and DeAngelo Hall and linebacker Houston Bates.

To be a step behind in that regard has been difficult for the 23-year-old.

“Not being able to showcase my talents out on the field, not being able to compete out there [has been tough],” Moreau said. “But I’m a firm believer in God and his plan for me.”
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Redskins Select CB Fabian Moreau With 81st Overall Pick In 2017 NFL Draft
Moreau added that he’s “ready to get back on the field and show everybody what I can do.”

“I’m just willing to do my job—whatever that may be—and do it to the best of my ability and just help this team win,” Moreau said.

In four years with UCLA, Moreau recorded 148 tackles (98 solo), 26 pass breakups, three interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 51 career games. During his senior season in 2016, he received honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors, as he led the Bruins in passes defensed (10) while guiding a secondary that allowed a conference-low 12 passing touchdowns.

Now in a secondary that includes starting cornerbacks Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland along with 2015 third-round pick Kendall Fuller, the Redskins will have to determine just how Moreau fits in within the group once healthy.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is confident that Moreau will excel, though, regardless of what is asked of him or how large his workload will be as a rookie.

“He’s good at bump-and-run,” Gruden said. “I still think he’s growing. You know, he’s only been playing [cornerback], like I said, for three years, very similar to what we’re going through with [Quinton] Dunbar right here. We got another guy that can really run on the outside, you know, to go with obviously Norman and Breeland and Kendall. You can never have too many guys that are physical and can run. We play obviously a very tough division with Dez Bryant, now we have Alshon Jeffrey and obviously Brandon Marshall and Beckham, so the more guys that can run, cover and hit, the better.”

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As players take their final breaks before training camp, The Redskins Blog will take a look back at the new faces from this offseason and what we’ve learned about them, football and otherwise, so far.

Today we’ll focus on first-round defensive lineman Jonathan Allen:

1. He’s a DMV local.

Though Jonathan Allen played collegiately at Alabama, the state in which he was born, he grew up just 10 minutes from the Redskins facility in Loudon County, Va., and was raised to root for the Redskins.
“To play for the Redskins means a lot,” he said. “I still remember the days when I would come up to the Redskins’ facility when we first got Donovan McNabb and I was out there for training camp and watching them.”

With roots in Washington, Allen will enter his first NFL season with support from his parents and siblings not only as family, but as fans, too.

“For my family, they are so excited. Right in the backyard,” Allen said. “It’s something you only hear about in stories. Not really something we even thought could happen, so now that it happened is really just a blessing and a dream come true.”

Though he hasn’t even played a game with the team, Allen has already embraced his position in the community and given back to the area that he calls home, visiting the Capital Area Food Bank and assisting with its charitable operations.

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2. He’s a part of the Redskins’ new defensive plan.

As the team’s first defensive selection in the first round since linebacker Ryan Kerrigan in 2011, acquiring Allen as the 17th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft was the first step in head coach Jay Gruden’s defensive revitalization.
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First Season With The Redskins: Jonathan Allen
“You talk about upgrading your defense, well you have to pick a guy high. You have to take the best at the position, and he’s the best defensive lineman we thought in the draft,” the head coach said.

“We like his size, we like his strength, we like his ability to rush the passer, play the run,” he continued. “He’s a very versatile guy – he can play all the positions on defensive line. Really, never in a million years did we think he would be there at 17, but we’re happy-as-heck he was. There was not a lot of debate in there – we put the card in and took a heck-of-a football player and a great person.”

Allen is prepared to contribute to the rebuilding of the Redskins defense in any role that he can.

“As a football player, I just want to be out there. That’s the most important thing for me,” Allen said. “So, where ever the coaches tell me to play at that’s where I’m going to go play at and do it effectively.”

3. He played varsity basketball in high school.

As a student at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., Allen was a two-sport athlete, playing football and basketball.

“You knew he was a good athlete,” said Stone Bridge High School head football coach Mickey Thompson. “You just didn’t know if he was a football player or basketball player.”

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Allen grew both in size and as an athlete, and his dominant sport soon became clear. His football success, however, was not immediate. The current defensive lineman played at wide receiver and defensive back before moving to the line. After honing his craft here, though, Allen was unstoppable.

As a senior, he recorded 119 tackles with nine sacks, six fumble recoveries, eight pass breakups, six blocked kicks and seven pass breakups. The 2012 Virginia Gatorade High School Player of the Year was a five-star recruit and nationally ranked 11th at defensive end among the Class of 2013.

4.He had an award-winning collegiate senior year.

Allen ascended the defensive line ranks at Alabama, standing out as a star player his senior season.

Though the Crimson Tide fell short of a 2016 National Championship title, Allen ended his collegiate career with countless accolades: unanimous first-team All-American selection, First-Team All-SEC selection for the third consecutive year, the Chuck Bednarik Award (awarded by the Maxwell Football Club to the best defensive player in America), the Bronko Nagurski Award (awarded annually by the Football Writers Association of America to the best defensive player in the nation), the Ted Hendricks Award (awarded by the Ted Hendricks Foundation to college football’s top defensive end), the Rotary Lombardi Award (awarded by the Rotary Club in Houston to the best college football lineman or linebacker) and finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting.

In four seasons with the Crimson Tide, Allen amassed 152 tackles along with 28 sacks, six passes defensed, three fumbles forced, three fumbles recovered and a touchdown. His 28 sacks rank the second-most in school history, only behind Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.
5. He’s recently engaged.

Just 11 days before the draft, Allen proposed to his girlfriend, Hannah Franklin. The two met at Alabama and had been dating for a few years before the April 16 proposal. Though Franklin, an Illinois native, was raised a Chicago Bears fan, according to Allen’s interview on AL.com, she will now cheer for her soon-to-be husband in Washington.
6. He was in foster care.

When divorce split his biological parents and military obligations sent his father overseas, Allen and his brother, Richard III, found themselves in the care of their mother. After moving from hotel to hotel and missing countless days of school, the brothers were placed in foster care. Seven years Jonathan’s senior, Richard III supported his younger brother and strove to provide a normal childhood atmosphere for Allen despite their circumstances.

“I had to lean on my brother a lot,” Allen told the Washington Post. “He’s the one I really leaned on. He’s the one who got us through a lot of things.”

“Honestly, those are some of the happiest times of my life,” he added of his foster care experiences. “I remember me and my brother playing football, playing games. I know it might sound crazy now but back then, as long as I was with my brother, I didn’t really care what else happened to be honest.”

Reunited with their father, Richard, nearly a year later, football became the agent that bound the Allens.

“Football really brought all three of us together,” said Richard III. “We all really loved football, and watching Jonathan excel at football brought us all together. That was great bonding time for us growing up.”

7. He has NFL role models and rivals.

Raised a Redskins fan, Allen admires a few of the franchise’s former players.

“As far as role models, [former Redskins tight end] Chris Cooley was a guy who I’ve always kind of had a relationship with, so he’s definitely been a big help to me through this process,” Allen said. “If I had to choose one, I would definitely say Chris Cooley. He’s just a great role model, a great leader, been a great mentor to me. He’s been tremendous for me.”
His favorite Redskin, however, is former running back Clinton Portis.

“He was a beast,” Allen said of Portis. “I loved the way he played the game, I loved watching him run the ball.”

Allen had the opportunity to call Portis shortly after the young defensive lineman joined the team. As Allen spoke to Portis post-draft, the retired player summed up the young player’s situation: “Falling to 17 [was] a blessing in disguise.”

As for those he’d like to take down, for Allen, the most worthy opponent can only be the league’s best.

“If I had to choose [a player I’d most like to tackle], I would say Tom Brady,” Allen said, “only because in my opinion he is the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, so just to have that opportunity would be a blessing.”

Allan’s greatest adversary, however, is not in New England, but in Dallas.

“You know what I’m looking forward to the most? Playing the Cowboys,” Allen said. “Oh man, I can’t wait.”