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Robinson Earns Coaches’ Trust, Promotion

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 29, 2011 – 2:57 pm

When the Redskins selected receiver Aldrick Robinson in the sixth round (178th overall), they knew that they had raw talent on their hands.

Robinson hailed from Southern Methodist University and was indoctrinated into the Run-n-Shoot offense, which traditionally doesn’t translate smoothly to the pros.  But Robinson possessed game-changing speed, running a 4.35 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in April.

Rolling the dice on the speedster, Robinson got his first NFL opportunity in the second half of the first preseason game against Pittsburgh.  Back deep to return a punt, Robinson literally let opportunity slip through his hands–twice.  He muffed two consecutive punts, and that was his last appearance on the field.

“I was just too anxious to play I think,” he said after the game.  “I was running before I had the ball, looking downfield to see who I gotta make miss, before I even caught the ball. Basically I was trying to establish myself as a playmaker before I could even catch the punt.”

Robinson surmised at the time that his coaches had lost all trust in him, and that he would need to seek every opportunity to regain that trust.  At the end of training camp, he was stashed on the practice squad, left to find what few opportunities he could after everyone else. Read more »

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Alexander Credits Pilates For Better Heath

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 15, 2011 – 12:13 pm

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When healthy, Lorenzo Alexander is special teams ace and can play almost any position on defense.  The problem in recent years is that he has been slowed by hamstring injuries in two of the last three seasons.

This offseason, however, he found a secret weapon that has kept him healthy this season: Pilates.

“It’s probably the best thing I’ve done offseason wise, as far as training,” he said.  “Every other day, I was doing something that would focus on hamstrings and glutes to get them strong.  This year, I feel like I’m healthy enough to sustain the grind of the season, and I haven’t had any problems with them.”

I knocked on wood.  “God willing,” Alexander responded.

Pilates is a fitness program that focuses on controlled movement and breathing in order to strengthen the support tissues around the dominant muscles.  This can improve strength and work to prevent injury, as it has for Alexander.

“It allows me to be stronger than usual because it trains your core and ligaments before you work on the big muscles,” he said.  “If that stuff isn’t strong enough, you’re not able to carry the weight and do the work, and be as explosive.”

Alexander said that it was teammate Kedric Golston that got him involved with Pilates for the first time in February.  Alexander’s only regret is that he hadn’t suppressed his pride and gotten involved sooner.

“Once upon a time, I believed it was like yoga, and that’s for women.  That’s not for me,” he said with a smile.  “But it’s not a feminine discipline, it can be very masculine, and you’ll feel better when you go to the gym.” Read more »

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Redskins Serve Homeless A Holiday Meal

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 24, 2011 – 6:56 pm

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Most Redskins players won’t get to spend Thanksgiving with their families, but that doesn’t prevent them from brightening the holidays of other families in need.

This afternoon, running back Ryan Torain and right tackle Jammal Brown served lunch to families at the Volunteers of America Chesapeake’s Loudoun Homeless Services Center in Leesburg, Va.

“It’s good to help the community out,” said Torain, in between handing out boxes.  “The most important part of holidays is getting together with your family and loved ones.  Even though I can’t really do that today, I’m out here with these people and their families and I just wanna give back.”

Torain said that after he was done in Leesburg, he was going to travel back to spend time with his friends on the team–his “second family.” Read more »

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First Quarter Considerations

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 20, 2011 – 2:46 pm

Today is a good day to have your Redskins roster printed and at the ready.  In the first defensive stand, a 10-play drive by the Cowboys, the Redskins subbed in defensive linemen Chris Neild, Darrion Scott, and Kentwan Balmer.  Those are No.’s 95, 76, and 93, for those of you following at home.

It was a strange first drive for the Redskins, who used two running backs not named Roy Helu, Ryan Torain, or Tashard Choice.  Head coach Mike Shanahan said that Anthony Armstrong and Donte Stallworth should see some playing time this week–he just didn’t say where.

Today features a battle between Outback mates at the punter position, with both Sav Rocca and Mat McBriar hailing from Melbourne, Australia.  Both players have factored into today’s game, with a pair of punts a piece.  Rocca leads in head-to-head stats, averaging 47 yards-per-punt (44 for McBriar), and no touchbacks to McBriar’s one.  If the defense keeps playing this well, it could be a competition to keep an eye on.

But the best play of the quarter, was running back Tashard Choice’s 9-yard gainer for his first play as a Washington Redskins player.  No. 40 hit the hole, made contact, spun out of the lineman’s grasp, and trucked cornerback Terrence Newman.

Welcome to Washington, good sir.  Now lead your people to the end zone.

Redskins trail after 15: Dallas 7, Washington 0.

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A Positive Torain Looking For ‘Great Vibe’

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 7, 2011 – 7:50 pm

Running back Ryan Torain was one of the few bright spots on the Redskins offense last year, putting together three 100-yard games.  This season–outside of St. Louis (19 rushes for 135 yards)–Torain has had only 21 carries for 33 yards.

With such limited opportunities, the key to Torain’s focus has been his impermeable positivity–something that he’s trying to spread to the rest of his teammates.

“We’ve gotta stay positive, and we’ve gotta stay focused,” he said.  “I need to make plays when I get my opportunities, and I’ve gotta be an uplift.  Excited our teammates and make them want to do the same thing.  I’ve got to definitely give off a great vibe.”

Torain’s duties at running back? Run hard, pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield, protect the football, and give off a great vibe.

Check out his full audio, below: Read more »

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Backfield Four Horsemen A Hit At Play 60

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 1, 2011 – 1:51 pm

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The students at Steuart W. Weller Elementary School got a full taste of the Redskins rushing attack on Tuesday morning, as Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu, and Darrel Young led the students in a Play 60 celebration.

The students and teachers arranged a big welcome for their hometown heroes, and were showered with hugs and high-fives from the students:

Read more »

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First Quarter Impressions

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 4:40 pm

Who said punting wasn’t exciting?

Through the first three possessions of the game, the Redskins and Bills traded punts, with Australian phenom Sav Rocca landing three total inside the 20 (one negated by penalty) in the first quarter.

The international man of mystery is locked in today, and so is his coverage team.

Despite the Bills’ second drive ending in a touchdown, the Redskins are still doing one thing right: gang tackling.  Both near the line and down the field, the Redskins are swarming to the ball.  Unfortunately, the drive amounted to two big passing plays to receivers that had gotten open in the secondary.  Not sure what happened, but there were no burgundy hats in the area.

The score woke up the Redskins offense, who showed signs of life on the ensuing drive.  After a self-inflicted fumble on a scramble, quarterback John Beck took to the air, hitting Leonard Hankerson for a 23-yard gain.  This is the first catch of his young career, and a good rebound from the miscommunication that ended last week’s game.

Running back Ryan Torain looks good early, hitting the hole with conviction and fighting for the tough yards.  The Redskins don’t have anything to show for it in the first quarter, but all three units seem to be warming up as the game goes on.

Bills on top after one, 0-7.

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Torain Credits Hightower For Pass-Blocks

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 28, 2011 – 2:41 pm

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The trade for Tim Hightower this offseason brought a running back to Washington that was well-versed in pass-protection.  A running back that can perform in all three facets of the game offers the offense more possibilities while he’s in the game, something that has been missing since Clinton Portis in his prime.

But now that Hightower’s season has ended on injured reserve, his influence will carry on in his fellow stable-mates, especially Ryan Torain.

“Y’know, Tim was definitely a specialist in studying hard, and I tried to take a little bit from him,” Torain said.  “I’ve been putting in work and trying to be a student off the field, and that’s the way I’ve been approaching it this year.”

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by his coaches, who will be relying on him to pick up a lion’s share of the carries in Hightower’s absence. Read more »

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Second Quarter Summary

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 16, 2011 – 2:47 pm

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The first half left much to be desired, as the Redskins came out a little flat after last week’s bye.  Even though the Redskins fixed their early penalty predicament, the important numbers speak for themselves:

Time of possession: 8:22 vs. 21:38

Penalties: 6-for-55

Turnovers: -2

On top of that, the Redskins offense is missing key players with Trent Williams, Chris Cooley, and Kory Lichtensteiger–all questionable to return.  Williams was seen coming out of the tunnel at the end of the first half, returning to the sidelines.  Cooley was seen standing on the sidelines without his pads or helmet.

Fred Davis, Erik Cook and Sean Locklear have all played well in their respective absences, but this is clearly venturing outside of the ideal.

The Cook to Rex Grossman exchange has gone reasonably well, save for one high snap out of the shotgun near the Redskins goal line.  Credit Grossman for not trying to do something with nothing, and getting rid of the ball out of bounds.

Other good performances in the first half:

  • Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has consistently been in the face and eyes of Michael Vick, getting a tackle and a pass defensed.
  • Kicker Graham Gano tied a career-long with a 50-yard field goal at the end of the half for the Redskins only points.
  • After Will Allen’s interception, he weaved his way upfield and had a chance for a much bigger play, if not for the saving tackle of running back Ryan Torain.  Tim Hightower has made some huge plays in this regard previously this year, and it’s good to see Torain continue the trend.
  • Cornerback Josh Wilson has four tackles, three unassisted, saving several big plays.

There is understandable frustration in Redskins Nation right now, but there are very important reasons to stay tuned in the second half.  The halftime score is 20-3, the exact same lead that the Eagles had over the 49er’s at halftime, two weeks ago.  They went on to lose that game 23-24, unable to stop the bleeding in the second half.  The Eagles have coughed up three fourth quarter leads this season, and that will remain in the back of their minds today.

Don’t despair, Redskins fans, this one isn’t over yet.  The Redskins have been a solid second half team, and the Eagles have disappeared late.  Redskins trail at the half, 3-20.

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Winning Storyline: Revenge Or Respectability?

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 15, 2011 – 2:48 pm

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Putting your finger on the pulse of a football game can be difficult in some weeks, but this week should be pretty simple.  Respected NFL analysts Brian Billick and Adam Schefter have reduced the Redskins-Eagles matchup down to one storyline per team.

Adam Shefter: Redskins’ revenge?

No single performance last season was as memorable as the one Vick turned in on a rainy Monday night in Washington, when he threw for 333 yards, ran for 80 more and accounted for six touchdowns in the Eagles’ 59-28 humiliation of the Redskins. Vick was a character out of a video game and he blew up the Redskins. But now the Redskins have a chance to strike back for that game and silence the Eagles, maybe for good this season.

Brian Billick: A must-must-win for the Eagles. Read more »

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