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Shanahan Tips His Hand Early

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 5, 2011 – 9:55 pm

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Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan suggested last week that he may wait until Sunday before game-time to name his starting quarterback.

Today, he gifted the gathered media with Rex Grossman as the starter for this Sunday against the Giants.

“I got a chance to talk to the quarterbacks over the weekend,” he said.  “It was a very good battle. I have a lot of faith in both of them and it’s been very competitive all the way through, but I wanted to announce it today and the starting quarterback will be Rex.”

A Labor Day miracle!  But clearly this wasn’t just a moment of generosity.

“I just thought it was the best thing if we knew what direction we were going to go,” Shanahan explained.  “I wanted to let everyone know and, Wednesday, everyone can focus on the Giants and all of the speculation that goes on in between. I wanted to take as long as I possibly could to know that I did make the right decision.”

Shanahan explained that the difference between Grossman and John Beck was “by an edge.”  Apparently this edge is also subject to change.

“You have to be at the top of your game to stay at any position,” he said.  “You have to perform whether you are a Pro Bowl player or you’re coming in as a first-round pick. We’re going to evaluate you every day and I told these guys from the start, ‘I have no idea what direction we are going to go, but, whoever plays the best is going to start.'”

So write your season lineups in pencils? Read more »

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Niles Paul Still Relies On Uncle Ahman

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 5, 2011 – 6:28 pm

Now that Niles Paul has officially cracked the roster of an NFL team, it can officially be called a family tradition.

Niles Paul is the nephew of former NFL running back Ahman Green.  Though not a football star at the same position, Paul has always relied on Uncle Ahman for advice.

“My uncle has helped me a lot, and if he tells me something, then I take it to heart and I listen to it,” he said.  “I talk to my uncle pretty much every week.  We have extensive conversations just about playing football and everything that’s happened.”

Among the wealth of experience that he’s impressed upon his nephew, perhaps the greatest lessons are patience and staying humble.

“The first thing he told me when I got drafted, is, ‘You’re gonna have to put your pride aside and play in a reserve role and play on special teams, because those are a big part of playing in the NFL,'” Paul remembered.  “In college, I just did punt and kick returns my junior and senior years.  But now I just need to just worry about contributing, because everyone has a way that they can help contribute to the team.”

Read more »

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Practice Squad Features Some Familiar Faces

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 5, 2011 – 5:37 pm

The recently announced Redskins practice squad features four players that have formerly donned the Burgundy and Gold:

Aldrick Robinson, wide receiver, No. 11

Evan Royster, running back, No. 35

Maurice Hurt, offensive guard, No. 79

Doug Worthington, defensive end, No. 90.

To get to the eight-player maximum, the squad is filled out with four newcomers to the Nation’s Capital.

One of them, quarterback  Jonathan Crompton (No. 3), actually had a chance to scout the area and stadium on Thursday night as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Crompton came into the game in a rotation with Bucs starter Rudy Carpenter, and went 12-for-22 for 149 yards and a touchdown and interception.

The Redskins defense roughed him up a little in the game, sacking him twice, once each from the departed Davonte Shannon and Edgar Jones.  The interception by Josh Wilson was more of an athletic move by Wilson than an errant throw by Crompton, but I’m sure a few introductions will be in order in the locker room tomorrow.

When I asked him today about Wilson, he laughed and replied: “Nah, I haven’t met him yet.  But I’m gonna have to mess with him a little.” Read more »

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Rain Downpours On Monday’s Practice

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 5, 2011 – 4:28 pm

The NFL regular season has officially begun, and the Redskins kicked it off with a late-afternoon practice today.

Perhaps more appropriately, they “splashed it off.”

Read more »

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Chris Neild’s Strategy For Roster-Cuts Day

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 5, 2011 – 1:14 pm

Chris Neild was very nearly undrafted.  He was very nearly ‘Mr. Irrelevant,’ the last overall pick.

But instead, he was the Redskins last pick in the draft, and there’s no cool title for going second-to-last overall.

Unless you count having the title of “NFL player” on your resume.

With the fourth and final preseason game on the horizon, Neild knew that this was his make-or-break moment.  Presumed starting nose tackle Barry Cofield sat out, along with most of the defensive starters, allowing Neild his golden opportunity.

“I knew Barry wasn’t gonna play in this game, so I knew this was gonna be my shot to put it all out there,” he said in the locker room after the game.  “With this game, getting a lot of reps, and the last couple games, getting a good amount of reps, I think I put enough out there to hopefully convince these coaches.”

Neild put up some very nose tackle-esque numbers in the game, with one tackle, for a loss.  He then had the next two days to sit back and try not to second guess himself while roster cuts happened.

“I definitely got enough opportunities,” he said.  “I don’t know what to feel right now.  It ain’t up to me no more.  I did what I had to do and I put it on the film, so it’s up to these coaches.  I’m just gonna try to keep it out of my head.”

Neild said that he intended to come into the facilities on Friday to work out and watch film, but he wasn’t going to go out of his way to see the people that might be in charge of cutting him. Read more »

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From One Trick Pony To ‘One Man Gang’

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 5, 2011 – 11:00 am

Another year of preseason cuts and another spot secured on the roster for the Redskins Swiss Army Knife, Lorenzo Alexander.

Alexander has been cut three times in his NFL career, and knows what it’s like to be in roster limbo.

“It’s hard, it’s a rough experience for guys who put so much into this sport and come out practicing hard and making a lot of sacrifices and putting your body on the line,” he said.  “When somebody tells you you’re not good enough, it’s hard.  Especially as an athletes, everyone’s a competitor, you been one of the top guys in high school and college, and then here, somebody tells you no for the first time, it’s hard.”

Alexander also attributed some of his motivation to proving those teams and those people wrong.

“It motivates you, and a lot of the guys who don’t make this team can play in this league and will get picked up.”

After learning that he had made the roster for the 2011 season, he reminisced over Twitter back to his days at No. 79, as a defensive tackle:

Read more »

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Shanahan’s Post-Game Presser In Hindsight

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 5, 2011 – 10:03 am

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With head coach Mike Shanahan’s press-conference-poker-face, I wouldn’t even play the man in Go Fish.

But after reviewing his post-game presser from the Bucs game, there was some foreshadowing as far as this weekend’s eventual roster composition was concerned.

On the head-to-head efforts of running backs Evan Royster and Ryan Torain:

“Y’know, I thought both guys did a pretty good job when they were in there.  Too bad Evan had that mild concussion.  I would have like to see him play a little bit more.  I thought Torain did a pretty good job for not getting a lot of practice time.”

Given that running backs Tim Hightower and Roy Helu didn’t play, it seemed like this game was used to determine the identity of the third back.  Regardless of whether or not there was a favorite going into the game, Torain carried the load on Thursday night.

Torain makes the roster, Royster does not.

On Markus White’s performance:

“Yeah, he looked like he put some pressure on the quarterback tonight.  He has good size, right in that 270-275 range, and I thought he showed himself well.”

As a mid-seventh-round pick making a position change at the professional level, White would have to fit anyone’s definition of a dark horse roster pick at the beginning of camp.  But as of Sept. 3, White is a member of the Redskins, and likely improved his stock with a big fumble recovery and return.

On Donte Stallworth catching the fourth quarter touchdown:

“Well that’s what you’re trying to do is show people that you can make plays.  That was a big play he made at the end of the game.  You can see his speed.  Obviously he kind of bobbled it a little bit, but he came down with it and stayed focused.  It was a nice catch.”

It isn’t clear what Stallworth’s standing was with the organization before the play, but catching a 41-yard bomb for a touchdown usually increases anyone’s stock.  If that play was, in fact, the one that put him over the top, then he waited until the last possible moment to open some eyes.

Which is why the fourth preseason game is nothing to sleep on.

Shanahan talked briefly about his approach to the preseason and how his roster composition would be determined.

“You’re just trying to give guys a chance to show what they can do, and give some guys some opportunities,” he said.  “I know you could feel it before the game with a lot of the starters out, those guys were nervous trying to show people what they could do.  Their careers are on the line and they’re trying to make a football team.”

He concluded: “All I’m gonna say is we’ve got some tough decisions to make, and we’ll make those decisions over the next couple days.”

As for the process to determine the practice squad: “You know your players obviously better than anybody, but sometimes people will do their homework, and they’ll take a chance and get a player–just like we might.”

Check out the full video for the presser below: Read more »

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