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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 09/16/2014

Redskins waive Bacarri Rambo to make room for Brandon Meriweather


Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis beats the tackle of Redskins strong safety Bacarri Rambo as he heads to the end zone for a fourth-quarter touchdown in Week 2. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Washington Redskins have waived second-year safety Bacarri Rambo, his agent confirmed, to make room on the roster for Brandon Meriweather, whom the NFL just reinstated after a two-game suspension to start the season.

A sixth-round pick in 2013 and an all-American at Georgia in 2011 after ranking among the nation’s leaders in interceptions, Rambo struggled mightily, particularly with tackling, during his short time with the Redskins.

He impressed coaches with his understanding of the schemes, and based on strong play during offseason practices, Rambo opened the training camp of his rookie season as the starter at free safety. But after whiffing badly on open-field tackles both in the preseason and first two regular season games, he was relegated to the bench and saw only spot duty the remainder of the season, tallying a total of 43 tackles in 11 games.

Coaches believed that Rambo had made improvements this offseason as he tried to learn how to take better angles while in pursuit of ball-carriers. When Meriweather was suspended for the first two games because of a helmet-to-helmet hit in the third preseason game, Rambo took over as the starting strong safety.

However, in Week 1, he badly missed on a tackle attempt and wound up surrendering a 76-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins against the Houston Texans.  then on Sunday, he misplayed another pass and whiffed on an opportunity to break up a pass or tackle Jacksonville tight end Marcedes Lewis and surrendered a 63-yard touchdown. Both Rambo misses led to the only offensive touchdowns scored by Washington’s Week 1 and Week 2 opponents.

Coaches benched Rambo in the second half, playing Trenton Robinson instead. Robinson recorded an interception in the fourth quarter.

The Redskins on Aug. 31 claimed Duke Ihenacho off waivers, but the former Denver Broncos starter still is learning the system. Washington last week promoted rookie safety Akeem Davis, whom coaches describe as a project player, from the practice squad. The team needed to make a move to create space on the 53-man roster for Meriweather, but the Redskins elected to keep both Ihenacho and Davis, and instead part with Rambo.

Meriweather will assume his role as the starting strong safety alongside free safety Ryan Clark. Robinson and Davis will play primarily on special teams, as will Ihenacho.

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

More from The Post:

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Outsider: A look at Cousins and Griffin in the pocket

Gruden: Griffin may return this season | Cousins: ‘This is Robert’s team’

Meriweather returns, and vows to tackle right | Five observations from the win

More NFL: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats | Fantasy

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By  |  10:34 AM ET, 09/16/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Bacarri Rambo, Brandon Meriweather, Duke Ihenacho, Trenton Robinson

Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 09/16/2014

Morris reaches 3,000-yard mark faster than any player in Redskins history


Alfred Morris rushes for the first of two touchdowns against the Jaguars. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

With his 85-yard, 22-carry day day on Sunday, running back Alfred Morris surpassed the 3,000-yard mark and reached the milestone faster than any other player in Redskins history.

Morris, who now has 3,064 rushing yards, accomplished the feat in the 34th game of his career. John Riggins, Washington’s all-time leading rusher, rushed for 3,000 yards in his first 38 games with the franchise.

Morris rushed for a career-high 1,613 yards as a rookie and amassed 1,275 yards last season.

On Sunday, Morris also rushed for two touchdowns. It represented the fourth multi-touchdown game of Morris’s career, and his first since Dec. 30, 2012, when he rushed for three touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys.

Morris was unfazed by his milestone day, savoring the outcome of the game instead

“It’s good, I guess,” he said. “Only thing I care about is winning, so if that means scoring a couple touchdowns, that’s cool. I’m down with that, but I’m just moreso excited about our overall performance.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

More from The Post:

Gruden: Griffin may return this season | Cousins: ‘This is Robert’s team’

Meriweather returns, and vows to tackle right | Five observations from the win

Specialists estimate eight weeks to season for RGIII | Injury could be long-term

More NFL: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats | Fantasy

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  09:00 AM ET, 09/16/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Alfred Morris

Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 09/16/2014

The difference between Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III in the pocket

The Redskins don’t yet know the full extent of Robert Griffin III’s ankle injury and how long it will keep him out. But they do know Kirk Cousins will be the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. We’ve already seen pieces such as the one from Mike Wise suggesting Jay Gruden feels Cousins is a better fit for his offense than Griffin.

If that is the case, I’d put it down to Cousins being further along in his development than Griffin. It’s been well documented that Gruden was brought in to help Griffin develop in the pocket, and Griffin needs that development. Cousins, on the other hand, has played his entire life from the pocket, so it comes much more naturally for him.

Cousins on Sunday reminded me of Andy Dalton under Gruden for the Bengals. He showed good fundamentals, worked in the pocket, read the defense well and made quick decisions. Gruden liked Dalton getting the ball out of his hands quickly and into the hands of his playmakers with minimal mistakes. Dalton didn’t have ability to spectacularly scramble, avoid three tacklers and launch a 50-yard touchdown pass, but he was consistent. That’s exactly what we got from Cousins yesterday.


This play is a Gruden family favorite. Both Jay and Jon Gruden have run it plenty in the past. It’s a “Sluggo-seam” concept that consists of a slant-and-go (sluggo) to Cousins’ right, with a seam route on the other side.


In this concept, the quarterback has to pump fake the slant to see if the corner bites. In this case, the corner doesn’t bite.


So Cousins immediately moves on to the seam route on the back side of the play. He quickly adjusts, resets his feet and pulls the trigger.


Wide receiver Andre Roberts was wide open up the seam and Cousins is able to pick up an easy completion on third down to convert.

From snap to release, Cousins took about 2.6 seconds to get the ball out of his hands. That’s exactly what Gruden wants from his quarterback. He has to make quick reads and get the ball out quickly. Cousins had no problem doing that on this play, looking composed while doing so.

He had another similar play later on.


Here, the Redskins ran a four-verticals concept. The Jaguars struggled against this concept when the Eagles ran it last week, so Washington was smart to incorporate it into its game plan.


As Cousins reaches the top of his drop, he feels the pressure arrive off the edge. But he doesn’t panic and take off scrambling.


Cousins makes a subtle step away from the rush to buy himself an extra second for his receiver to run open.


The defender has nearly arrived, but Cousins doesn’t look particularly rushed. He pulls the trigger.


Cousins finds Niles Paul open over the middle of the field for another first down.

That play took Cousins about 2.7 seconds from the snap of the ball to release. Again, it’s about getting the ball out of his hands quickly. But the other aspect of that play was Cousins staying poised in the pocket and making the throw.

Last week, we saw Griffin take off despite having opportunities to get rid of the ball.


Griffin’s first read on this play against the Texans wasn’t open, but instead of working back across the field, where he has DeSean Jackson running free, Griffin takes off scrambling despite having time in the pocket.


Griffin has a second chance to hit Jackson, who takes off up the field. He also has the option to dump it off underneath. But instead, Griffin continues running and then slides for a one-yard gain.

That’s part of the development Griffin is going through. Cousins has been a pocket passer his whole life and is much further along in his development. Cousins might not have completed the pass to Jackson, but he wouldn’t have taken off running with a clean pocket and a checkdown target open.

Cousins’s pocket presence was obvious throughout the game. This next play was one of the more impressive throws he made on Sunday.


Washington had targeted Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz all day. They went right back after him here with a double move.


The pocket closes in on Cousins, but he doesn’t start to panic and look to back away from the rush or break the pocket. He stands firm and makes his throw.


Cousins displays good touch on this throw, placing it over Ryan Grant’s shoulder and dropping it in the bucket for another third-down conversion.

Perhaps Wise is correct; Cousins is a better fit for Gruden’s offense right now. He’s much further along in his development as a quarterback, which allows him to execute what Gruden demands easier than Griffin. But I don’t think that’s to say that Gruden doesn’t believe in Griffin developing in the long term to the point that Cousins is at now, or even beyond.

Whatever Gruden did believe, it doesn’t matter now. Cousins is his starting quarterback going forward. Against the Jaguars, Cousins showed he’s capable of executing the offense like Dalton did while Gruden was in Cincinnati. But while the Jaguars are talented, they were vulnerable. The Eagles should provide a tougher test of Cousins’s abilities in this offense.

Mark Bullock is The Insider’s Outsider, sharing his impressions of the Redskins without the benefit of access to the team. For his previous work, click here.

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More from The Post:

Gruden: Griffin may return this season | Cousins: ‘This is Robert’s team’

Meriweather returns, and vows to tackle right | Five observations from the win

Specialists estimate eight weeks to season for RGIII | Injury could be long-term

More NFL: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats | Fantasy

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By Mark Bullock  |  07:00 AM ET, 09/16/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:26 PM ET, 09/15/2014

DeSean Jackson could play Sunday against Philadelphia despite injury


Redskins gather around wide receiver DeSean Jackson after he injured his shoulder in the first quarter Sunday. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the Redskins’ highest profile offseason acquisition on offense, has been diagnosed with a mild sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder, Coach Jay Gruden said Monday.

It’s a painful injury but won’t necessarily sideline him for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, Washington’s first division contest of the season, the coach added.

“He’ll be day-to-day,” Gruden said. “Depending on if he can play with the pain, he’ll be good to go for Sunday. But we’ll have a better idea Thursday or Friday where he is.”

Jackson, whom the Redskins signed just four days after he was unceremoniously and surprisingly cut by the Eagles despite a 1,332-yard season, suffered the injury on Washington’s third offensive series, when he was driven into the turf, shoulder-first.

It wasn’t Jackson’s first AC sprain. But it was “a little vicious,” the wide receiver said Sunday afternoon, given the pain directly on the bone.

The AC (acromioclavicular) joint connects the collarbone and the top of the shoulder blade. Jackson’s sprain is classified as a Grade 1, which suggests mild damage to the ligament.

The Redskins’ speediest receiver, Jackson was off to a promising start, catching the 19-yard pass on the play in which quarterback Robert Griffin III dislocated his left ankle.

During the opening series of the 41-10 win, Jackson reeled in a 57-yard beauty from Griffin and fell on his back as a defender piled on and popped the ball from his clutches. The catch was ruled an incompletion; Gruden’s immediately challenge, but officials upheld their initial ruling.

“I felt like I caught the ball and went down and had possession of it,” Jackson said. “The guy falls on top of me and hits the ball out. It’s just unfortunate; pretty mad about that.”

On Monday Gruden said he planned to send that play into NFL officials for review.

“I’m 0-for-2 throwing the flag, so we’re going to wait on that explanation,” Gruden said. “I know they have to maintain possession throughout the whole body of the catch, but out in the field of play, I thought it was a catch down by contact, play’s over. But we’ll get the rule.”

Regarding other ailing Redskins, Gruden said that running back Roy Helu Jr. was also day-to-day with a strained quadriceps. Left guard Shawn Lauvao brushed off concerns about a sore knee, insisting he’ll be fine for Sunday.

Gruden said that cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring), who has been injured since the final preseason game, will increase his workload during practice this week and could be ready to play against Philadelphia or the Sept. 25 game against the New York Giants.

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

More from The Post:

Gruden: Griffin may return this season | Cousins: ‘This is Robert’s team’

Meriweather returns, and vows to tackle rightFive observations from the win

Specialists estimate eight weeks to season for RGIII | Injury could be long-term

More NFL: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats | Fantasy

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  06:26 PM ET, 09/15/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 04:00 PM ET, 09/15/2014

Brandon Meriweather returns to Redskins, and vows to tackle within NFL rules


Brandon Meriweather, here during training camp, was eager to get back to work after a suspension. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Much of America’s work force may dread Mondays, but strong safety Brandon Meriweather declared it “a blessing” to report for duty at Redskins Park following his two-game suspension for an illegal hit in the third preseason game.

“It means the world, coming back — seeing all the guys, seeing all the coaches,” said Meriweather. “It was like a family reunion.”

Washington’s starting strong safety, Meriweather hadn’t been allowed to practice with the team or even set foot in the facility while serving the NFL-mandated two-game suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Baltimore receiver Torrey Smith. The punishment was as severe as it was — with the league denying Meriweather’s appeal and refusing to lessen it—because it was the sixth dangerous hit of the safety’s career.

Meriweather vowed Monday to do everything his power to tackle within the rules — in particular, lowering his “strike zone”  — without losing the speed and fury he’s known for.

“I have no choice but to consciously tell myself to do it now,” said Meriweather, 30, who is playing under a one-year contract. “It’s nothing I’m willing to chance. I’m not trying to get kicked out of the league just to hit somebody hard. It’s just something I’m going to have to do.”

Asked if he was worried about being able to tackle within the rules without losing his effectiveness, Meriweather said: “I’m not worried at all. I’m going to go out the same, play aggressive, do all the things I’ve been doing — just lower my target down even more.”

Next to Meriweather, the happiest players in the Redskins locker room Monday were his defensive backfield teammates Ryan Clark and cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

“Tremendously ecstatic!” Hall said, asked how it felt to have Meriweather back in the fold.

“We’ve given up a couple big plays the course of these first two weeks,” Hall said. “Me and Ryan already said, if we get another big play it’s going to definitely be Brandon’s fault.”

Hall went on to say how valuable Meriweather’s big-game experience was, along with his familiarity with the Redskins’ defensive calls, terminology and teammates.

“He understands the intricacies of the game; he can kind of bring a different set of eyes,” Hall said. “I think [backup Bacarri] Rambo played pretty good in Brandon’s absence — definitely giving up some plays, but that’s just things you forget about. You keep going; keep trying to make big plays.

“Having a guy out there like Brandon, who has been through a lot of these situations out there on the football field is just going to be a nice changeup as opposed to having a young guy out there.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

More from The Post:

Gruden: Griffin may return this seasonCousins: ‘This is Robert’s team’

Five observations from the win | Takeaway: Better with Cousins, Hatcher

Specialists estimate eight weeks to season for RGIII | Injury could be long-term

Wise: Gruden wanted to play Cousins | Boswell: Time for his close-up

More NFL: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats | Fantasy

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

By  |  04:00 PM ET, 09/15/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Brandon Meriweather

 

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