Going deep on the soul of D.C. sports

Little to no progress on McNabb front

February 2, 2011 - 08:47 AM
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Donovan McNabb said during an appearance on ESPN that nothing has changed with his situation with the Redskins. (Photo: Associated Press)

Donovan McNabb said that there has been no change to his uncertain standing with the Washington Redskins, and it is unclear as to whether his agent, Fletcher Smith, and Washington coach/executive vice president Mike Shanahan or general manager Bruce Allen have met.

McNabb this week is working as a guest Super Bowl analyst for ESPN, and while doing so yesterday evening, he was asked by ESPN’s Mike Tirico where he and the Redskins stood. McNabb, in his typical tight-lipped manner, said he is approaching things as if he is a Redskin -- for now.

“As of right now, I’m definitely a Washington Redskin,” said McNabb, who struggled in his first season with the Redskins and was benched for the final games of the season and isn't expected to return next year. “I signed a contract to be with them the next couple of years and that’s the way I’m treating it as such, and I think the way of approaching it myself is to make sure that this offseason, I focus on being a better quarterback and being ready for the 2011 season.”

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Cam Newton workout: Good move or bad move?

February 1, 2011 - 09:53 AM
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Cam Newton plans on holding a workout for members of the media on Feb. 10, roughly two weeks before he works out for NFL teams at the NFL Scouting Combine. (Photo: Associated Press)

If you haven’t heard by now, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton will be holding a workout for the media on Feb. 10 at a high school in San Diego.

The Heisman Trophy winning quarterback is expected to be one of the players taken in the early to mid first round of April’s NFL draft. And despite his accomplishments this past season at Auburn, there still are plenty of questions about his skills. There's no denying that Newton -- who some expect the Redskins to take if he is available with the 10th pick -- is a supremely gifted athlete, but only one full season of Division I football raise questions about his readiness for the NFL.

To improve his skills and better tailor them to the NFL game, Newton has been working with personal coach George Whitfield, who worked with Ben Roethlisberger last year. Newton spent his time at Auburn operating primarily out of the shotgun, and Whitfield is working to get Newton used to taking snaps under center as well as improving his footwork, rhythm and timing.

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Redskins' DeAngelo Hall named Pro Bowl MVP

January 30, 2011 - 11:07 PM
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Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall was named Pro Bowl MVP after recording six tackles, an interception, forced fumble and fumble return for a touchdown. (Photo: Associated Press)

Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall capped his career year by earning MVP honors at the 2011 Pro Bowl on Sunday night.

The seventh-year pro, who was making his third Pro Bowl appearance, earned the honor after recording an game-high six tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and fumble return for a touchdown while helping the NFC to a 55-41 victory over the AFC.

Hall became only the second Redskins player to earn MVP honors at the Pro Bowl.

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Five things to watch this weekend

January 28, 2011 - 10:42 AM
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DeAngelo Hall and Brian Orakpo will both represent the Redskins at the Pro Bowl on Sunday night. Linebacker London Fletcher also will join them. (Photo: Associated Press)

Savor this coming Saturday and Sunday, football fans. It’s the next to last weekend of televised football action for about six months.

Saturday features the Under Armour Senior Bowl down in Mobile, Ala. It will air at 4 p.m. on the NFL Network. If you don’t get the NFL Network, find a friend that does, or roll on down to your favorite sports themed watering hole.

The Pro Bowl will air at 7 p.m. Sunday on Fox, and while it does little for some football fans, hey, at least it’s football. After that, it’s the Super Bowl, and given the uncertainty involving the status of the still unresolved CBA for the coming year, who knows when you’ll get to watch football after that?

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Senior Bowl roundup: Conflicting views on Locker; a look at OG prospects

January 27, 2011 - 11:28 AM
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University of Washington QB Jake Locker continues to receive mixed reviews while preparing for this Saturday's Senior Bow. (Photo: Associated Press)

NFL hopefuls down in Mobile, Ala., continue to prepare themselves for Saturday’s Under Armour Senior Bowl, and as has been the case all week, the University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker remains the most scrutinized player on either roster.

Locker is working to show that he possesses good upside despite accuracy issues, and the views on his body of work this week are rather conflicting.

ESPN’s Todd McShay acknowledges that Locker is far from a finished product and would benefit from a year or two as backup so he can further develop. He believes that Locker’s outlook and willingness to work will convince an NFL team that he can be a franchise quarterback and is worth spending a high pick on him.

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Senior Bowl roundup: Reports have QB Locker improving, LB Miller shining

January 26, 2011 - 10:35 AM
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Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller is expected to be available when the Redskins are on the clock in the first round of the NFL Draft. (Photo: Associated Press)

Preparation for this week’s Under Armour Senior Bowl continue down in Mobile, Ala., and NFL officials -- including a crew from the Redskins’ organization, continue to evaluate talent for April’s draft.

In yesterday’s TBDSkins post highlighted three players that could be under the Redskin microscope this week, and based on reports from Day 2 of practices two of those players are on the right track.

The first player mentioned yesterday was University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker. The senior is probably under more scrutiny than any other player at this week of practice because he had such a high stock as a junior, but decided to remain in school and ended up having a disappointing senior season. He still is probably the most talented quarterback in the draft, but accuracy problems have caused red flags regarding Locker.

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Senior Bowl prospects to watch

January 25, 2011 - 09:53 AM
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Washington's Jake Locker is the top quarterback prospect competing in the Senior Bowl. (Photo: Associated Press)

NFL scouts and draft gurus this week are down in Mobile, AL, for the Under Armour Senior Bowl, which will take place this Saturday on NFL Network.

This week leading up to the game features practices for the North and South teams, and are equally as important for the players as is the game. Their performances in drills and scrimmages will be evaluated as well, and yesterday, their physical makeup was recorded during national scouting weigh-in.

There are a little more than a hundred players on the two rosters combined, but here are the names of three possible early-round prospects that could draw some interest from the Redskins' officials.

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Steelers, Packers can teach Redskins some lessons

January 24, 2011 - 10:40 AM
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The Redskins can learn a lot from the Super Bowl-bound Steelers and Packers. (Photo: Associated Press)

The Super Bowl is set with the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Green Bay Packers on Feb. 6 in Dallas. It will be the NFL record-tying eighth Super Bowl appearance for the Steelers and the fifth appearance for the Packers.

This will be the Steelers' third trip to the Super Bowl in the last six years, and the Packers’ third trip since 1996. The Redskins, meanwhile, haven’t reached the Super Bowl since 1991 and have made the playoffs only four times since then.

No doubt Mike Shanahan & Co. have been and will be watching these two teams very closely two weeks from now. They're likely taking a fair amount of notes as well.

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NFC Pro Bowl roster will feature Fletcher, Orakpo in addition to Hall

January 24, 2011 - 09:24 AM
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Inside linebacker London Fletcher will make his second straight Pro Bowl appearance. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

The Washington Redskins announced this morning that linebackers London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo have been formally added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster and will join teammate DeAngelo Hall in representing their team and conference.

Hall was an original member of the NFC Pro Bowl roster, but Orakpo and Fletcher were both named first alternates.

Fletcher now makes the squad at middle linebacker because Chicago's Brian Urlacher suffered a mild injury in the NFC title game and will not be able to participate in the Pro Bowl this Sunday in Hawaii.

Orakpo gets the nod because Green Bay's Clay Matthews is headed for the Super Bowl. With the Pro Bowl now being played the week before the championship game, Super Bowl participants no longer take part in the league's all-star game. So that created the spot for Orakpo.

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Ex-Redskins in the NFL conference championships and league news

January 21, 2011 - 11:42 AM
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? Former Redskins starting free safety Ryan Clark is now a key contributor for the Steelers on defense. (Photo: Associated Press)

We’re two days away from the NFC Championship and once again, Washington Redskins fans have to sit back and watch someone else’s teams contend for a trip to the Super Bowl.

As TBD’s Dan Daly points out, in the last 19 years, only two NFC teams have not reached the conference championship. And of course, the Redskins are one of them. The Lions are the other. Thanks for the painful reminder of how bad this franchise is, Dan.

Wait, at least there are some familiar faces still vying for playoff spots. But is that comforting, or more torturous. Are the Redskins a farm team for NFL contenders?

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New face of the Redskins?

January 20, 2011 - 08:42 AM
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Is this the new face of the Washington Redskins? ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay think so. (Photo: Associated Press)

ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper expects the Washington Redskins to take Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton with the 10th overall pick in April.

Kiper released his first mock draft of the season yesterday afternoon. His adversary/fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay did as well.

McShay usually strongly disagrees on most Kiper takes, but this year they are at least on the same page when it comes to the Redskins. McShay also has Newton also headed to Washington.

Yesterday we went over the Redskins' options at quarterback, and discussed the differing opinions on the quarterback prospects in the draft. Kiper and McShay demonstrate this. Both agree that Missouri's Blaine Gabbert is the top quarterback in the draft, but Kiper has him going fifth overall to Arizona and Newton being the next QB taken.

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Evaluating the Redskins' options at quarterback

January 19, 2011 - 08:43 AM
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Mike Shanahan is expected to take a quarterback in this year's draft, but is Rex Grossman the best option for that prospect to learn under? (Photo: Associated Press)

It’s no secret the Washington Redskins are in the market for a quarterback.

No one expects Mike Shanahan to give the Donovan McNabb experiment a second chance. And although Kyle Shanahan likes Rex Grossman, he doesn’t appear to be the long-term solution. John Beck believes he can be the answer, but is he? And will he get a legitimate shot to prove that’s the case?

The Redskins are expected to try to find their franchise quarterback in the NFL draft this April. They own the 10th overall pick, and then pick again with the 10th pick of the second round. It’d be a pretty big surprise if Washington didn’t use one of those picks on a quarterback.

Here’s a look at their options:

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Skins' outside linebacker options

January 18, 2011 - 07:50 AM
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The Redskins have a dominant right outside linebacker in Brian Orakpo, but they need to improve on the other side. (Photo: Associated Press)

Yesterday we took a look at the Redskins’ need for a nose tackle and the options that could present themselves this offseason through the NFL draft or free agency. Another glaring need is a pass-rushing outside linebacker to complement Brian Orakpo, who is headed for his second straight Pro Bowl.

Orakpo was one of the few players that didn’t struggle in the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4. The Redskins converted Andre Carter and Lorenzo Alexander from defensive end to linebacker, and it was a learning experience for both and neither provided the production that was needed to give Washington balance on the edges. Carter doesn’t expect to be back this coming year, but Alexander -- who had a slightly smoother transition -- is already back to training so he can further program his body to be able to more effectively play the outside linebacker position.

Still, the Redskins could look to address that left outside linebacker spot this offseason. They have options that include in-house talent, draft prospects and free agency.

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Evaluating the Redskins' options at nose tackle

January 17, 2011 - 11:45 AM
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Albert Haynesworth didn't work out in Jim Haslett's 3-4 defense, so the Redskins likely will look to add a nose tackle through the draft or free agency. (Photo: Associated Press)

If the last two weeks of NFL playoff action have taught us anything, it’s that for the 3-4 defense to work, the team running that scheme needs to have a dominant nose tackle. The Redskins entered last season believing that perhaps they could press Albert Haynesworth into nose tackle duty, and they signed Ma’ake Kemoeatu as an insurance policy.

Neither ended up working out, however. Kemoeatu’s return from a 2009 Achilles’ tendon injury (which required surgery) was rocky, and he wound up on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Bruce Allen said last week that the door isn’t close to Haynesworth returning, it would be a shock of Haynesworth finally consented to play nose tackle in the 3-4 defense that he hates so much.

Now the team must address the position either through the draft or free agency. So what are the Redskins’ options?

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Danny Smith to remain with Redskins

January 17, 2011 - 10:28 AM
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Danny Smith will return to the Redskins for an eighth season as special teams coach.

Team sources have confirmed that Washington Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith has turned down a contract offer with the Denver Broncos and will remain with the Burgundy and Gold.

Smith's contract with Washington would have expired after the Super Bowl, but he and the team are working on an agreement that will bring him back for his eighth season in Washington. Smith had been pursued by new Broncos coach John Fox to join him in Denver and coach the special teams units there.

 

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NFL Division Playoffs: Five things to watch

January 15, 2011 - 09:17 AM
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Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens in the Division Playoffs today. (Photo: Associated Press)

Wildcard Weekend got the NFL postseason off to an exciting start, and today features the start of the Division Playoffs.

Kicking it all off are the Ravens versus the Steelers at 4:30 p.m. on CBS and the Packers at the Falcons at 8 p.m. Tomorrow it's the Seahawks at the Bears at 1 p.m. on Fox and the Jets at the Patriots at 4:30 p.m. on CBS

Of course your Redskins are off golfing or fishing, but there’s always some connection that can be made in reference to the Burgundy and Gold. Here are five things to watch

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Grading the Redskins' special teams units

January 14, 2011 - 01:43 PM
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Rookie kick/punt returner Brandon Banks was a bright spot on special teams for the Redskins. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

We’re down to the final unit evaluation of the Washington Redskins’ season, and that’s special teams.

The Redskins this year had bright spots in the form of Brandon Banks on returns, Lorenzo Alexander & Co. on coverage units and Graham Gano on kickoffs. But then there were glaring weaknesses in the form of Gano’s field goal struggles and poor punter play.

Let’s break it down.

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Danny Smith to Denver? Redskins special teams players hope not

January 14, 2011 - 09:37 AM
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Special teams coach Danny Smith reportedly is a candidate for the same position with the Denver Broncos, but Redskins players hope their longest-tenured assistant remains in Washington. (Photo: Heather Farrell)

The Denver Broncos announced yesterday that they had hired John Fox, formerly of the Carolina Panthers, as their next head coach. And soon after that news broke, NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora reported that there’s a chance Fox will try to lure Washington Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith to Denver with him.

Fox reportedly asked the Redskins for permission to interview Smith last year for the same position in Carolina, but Washington blocked the move. La Canfora also reported that Smith declined to sign an extension beyond the 2010 season, so he would be a free agent this offseason.

Upon hearing the news of Smith’s possible departure, Redskins’ players took to Twitter to express their hopes that the coach chooses to return to Washington.

“To lose Danny Smith would suck. One of the best special team coaches I have been involved with,” tweeted defensive end/special teams contributor Phillip Daniels.

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Bruce Allen: Futures of McNabb, Haynesworth still up in the air

January 13, 2011 - 02:06 PM
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Bruce Allen said that the Redskins have yet to make a determination on the futures of Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth. (Photo: Associated Press)

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen today addressed local beat writers for the first time since OTAs of last year and said that he believes the team is headed in the right direction, but he refused to weigh in on the futures of his two highest-profiled players, quarterback Donovan McNabb and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

“Those decisions will come, in time,” Allen said when asked about McNabb. “I’ve had conversations with [McNabb’s agent] Fletcher [Smith], and basically those conversations I’m going to keep between us, and basically we’re going to evaluate the team, evaluate the quarterbacks, the running backs, and all of those decisions will come.”

Allen and executive vice president/head coach Mike Shanahan last April acquired McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a second-round pick in last year’s draft and the fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. But McNabb endured a rocky first season in Washington, was benched with less than two minutes left in the Week 8 game against Detroit, and then got the hook again for the final three games of the season and was demoted to third-string quarterback for the final two outings.

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Grading the Redskins' defensive backs

January 13, 2011 - 05:00 AM
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DeAngelo Hall led the Redskins with six interceptions and earned his third Pro Bowl bid. (Photo: Associated Press)

The analysis of the Washington Redskins’ roster continues with a look at the defensive backs. Check out the TBDSkins blog archives for the offensive breakdowns that were covered last week. This week it’s defense and special teams that we’re looking at. We’ve touched on the line and linebackers, now for the cornerbacks and safeties.

The secondary was expected to be one of the strengths of the Redskins’ defense. Back when the team reported for training camp, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett spoke enthusiastically about cornerback’s DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers, and believed that the team had a strong third corner in new addition Phillip Buchanon. He couldn’t say enough about strong safety LaRon Landry, and free safety Kareem Moore held promise as well.

Like most every other unit on the team, the defensive backs produced mixed results. There were definitely were some highlights, but there were equally as many lowlights and injury-related disappointments.

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