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I’ll take Potpourri for $100, Alex

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an end-of-the-week look at a few minor story lines

Washington Redskins v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

There’s no real strong theme to this article. It’s just a collection of short observations generated by some things I’ve seen, heard or read in the past few days.

Jon Allen

“I just feel like we have a bunch of guys who just want to win. I was a Redskins fan before I was a Redskins player and the last time we won was [with] RGIII (Robert Griffin III) and that’s the last time we’ve been in the playoffs. I think; I’m not even sure. What’s that, six years ago, seven years ago? So that sucks. [That’s really disappointing]. We’re just trying to win. Honestly, if it’s not about that, there’s really no point. I’m not talking about it. We’re all just trying to win. We’re desperate to win and honestly, if we don’t win, it doesn’t really matter about stats. Personally, I don’t even care about that.”

How is it that everyone forgets 2015? And that other quarterback?

If some casual fan dropped this gem on me, I’d wonder if they actually knew anything about the Redskins. The fact that Jon Allen plays for the team and professes to have been a Redskins fan before becoming a Redskins player makes me wonder how he can have forgotten that the Redskins won the division in 2015.

NFL: Washington Redskins-Training Camp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it says something about his laser-sharp focus on his own team and performance (he’s only been a Redskin since 2017), or perhaps it says more about how little anyone cares if the team makes the playoffs but doesn’t win a game.

Alex Smith

I’m still determined [to play], still marching down the road, still optimistic,” Smith said, via Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports. “I want to push it, for the challenge’s sake. I want to see what I’ve got … I enjoy the challenge, even to this [recovery], coming out here and being with the guys. It’s not going to last forever. I’d like to see where it leads.”

Smith said he immediately knew the injury was a major one when it occurred in a game against the Houston Texans last November. However, he couldn’t foresee the injury becoming infected and a series of surgeries becoming necessary to allow his leg to finally begin to heal.

“I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in — feeling great, feeling strong — I still think about that play a lot,” Smith said. “I don’t know what happened, how it happened or why. But it was just one of those things, I think, where everything was right for that to happen. Or wrong.”

Watching Alex Smith hobble around training camp on crutches roughly 8 months after his injury seems to fly in the face of Smith’s proclamation that he is still optimistic about playing again.

NFL: Washington Redskins-Training Camp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll say this - if he steps back out on an NFL field in a regular season game to take a snap, it should qualify as one of the greatest physical and mental comebacks in the history of football.

Alex could just be saying all the right things to project the right image and protect his contract and the Redskins insurance position; I don’t know. But at this point, if I were in his shoes, I’d probably just be aiming to achieve ‘quality of life’ goals that no longer included playing professional football.

Brandon Scherff

NFL: Washington Redskins-Training Camp Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Answering a question on Friday about his recovery from injury, Scherff had this to say:

“My pec? This is the strongest I’ve ever been playing football. My bench is up significantly; my squat’s up. So I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”

That’s a scary thought for opposing defenses.

Brandon made it clear that he didn’t blame his injury on the Strentgth and Conditioning staff for his injury:

“No, I just got put in the wrong position. I told [Strength and Conditioning Coach] Chad [Englehart], I said, ‘You can’t make me jump at the ground and have my elbow and my shoulder in that situation and train [to prevent] that.’ It’s just kind of a freak injury; I just got caught in the wrong spot and it just popped.”

He also took a lazy friendly swipe at his OL mate, Morgan Moses while he was at it:

“He looks amazing. He looks good; he laid off the donuts in the off season.”

DRC

Jay Gruden, answering a question on CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s role:

”DRC’s obviously an experienced guy who can still run. He’s kind of been hobbled a little bit, he’s got a sore ankle. He’s a guy who can play nickel, both corners, obviously. And another experienced guy who can run. So, it’s good to have a guy in here like that. He’s right in the mix of corner with all those other guys.”

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Man, in my Jay-watching over the past 5 years, I’ve come to read this as a player being damned by faint praise. Asked specifically about DRC, Jay gives the reporter 5 grudging sentences, and two of them say the same thing.

Jay lists DRC’s positive traits:

  • experienced
  • can still run
  • can play nickel and both corners

That’s fine, as far as it goes, but Jay didn’t use any superlatives — he didn’t say that the CB had been “great” or “super”... heck, he didn’t even say that the player had been “good” on the field - only that it was good to have a player with those traits.

Jay made it a point to mention DRC’s ankle, which isn’t, by itself, a red flag; Jay often mentions injuries when discussing a player’s performance in practice, mini-camp or training camp, often as part of talking the player’s skills up.

But this isn’t one of those times. Jay has said the bare minimum he can about Rodgers-Cromartie, and then finishes him off with what amounts to a coup de grace in Jay-speak: “He’s right in the mix....”

When Jay describes a guy as “in the mix”, he means he’s competing for a spot on the roster — not a starting spot, just a spot. This is Jay communicating that the player is very much on the bubble, and — given the lack of positive comments overall for DRC in Jay’s response — unless I hear something dramatically different in a future press conference from Jay, I’m prepared to predict here and now that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will not make the 53-man roster at the end of preseason unless an injury creates an opening in the CB group.

For what it’s worth, The Athletic doesn’t agree with me. They have DRC projected to make the 53-man roster:

Cornerback (6): Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Jimmy Moreland, Greg Stroman, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

More Samaje Perine

Jay Gruden was asked to comment on the RB position group; specifically Peterson, Guice, and Thompson Look at how he answered:

”Yeah, you can’t disregard Samaje Perine, he’s been outstanding, even catching the ball, protection he’s been great, strong he’s been great. Those guys have been very good. Craig Reynolds has done a good job, Byron Marshall’s showing flashes still. I think the running back room is pretty solid. We added Shaun [Wilson] he’s showing flashes of speed and able to catch the ball, so it’s a deep room and it’s going to be some tough decisions in that room, that’s for sure.”

When I mentioned that Jay hadn’t used superlatives in talking about DRC, this is what I’m talking about: “he’s been outstanding, even catching the ball, protection he’s been great, strong he’s been great.”

Washington Redskins v New Orleans Saints Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Either Samaje Perine took his troubles down to Madame Ruth and got a bottle of love potion to use on Jay Gruden, or Jay is undertaking the greatest snow job ever attempted by a Redskins head coach in an effort, perhaps, to generate some trade value for his lame horse.


Related: It’s too early to bet against Samaje Perine


This entire off-season, Jay has talked about Samaje Perine in the most glowing of terms. If Perine were a stock, I’d be concerned that Jay was manipulating its value because he’d taken a long position on it, or else — if I believed him — I’d be rushing out and buying it for my portfolio.

I started out the off season thinking that Jay was either trying to re-establish some trade value for Perine or make up for past sins against him by putting a bit of positive spin on Samaje’s name, but the more Jay has pumped sunshine and lollipops about how hard Samaje is working, and how his blocking and pass catching has improved, the more I’m believing that Perine still has a future with the Washington Redskins (and last season I thought his career in burgundy & gold was stone-cold dead).

For what it’s worth, The Athletic is buying what Jay is selling. Here is their projection for the running back group on the final 53-man roster:

Running back (4): Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine

Perine vs. Byron Marshall remains a legitimate debate and one that might come down to whether Washington covets a backup for Thompson (Marshall) or Peterson (Perine). With Bryce Love being out because of a knee injury, Gruden confirmed the obvious Wednesday by stating the fourth-round pick will not be on the Week 1 roster.

Poll

Will Samaje Perine make the 53-man roster at the end of preseason?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Yes
    (537 votes)
  • 19%
    No
    (130 votes)
667 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie make the 53-man roster at the end of preseason?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Yes
    (246 votes)
  • 61%
    No
    (391 votes)
637 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Will Alex Smith ever again appear on the field as a player in a regular season NFL game?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Yes
    (162 votes)
  • 75%
    No
    (500 votes)
662 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which will happen first?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    The Redskins will play in a playoff game
    (552 votes)
  • 17%
    Jonathan Allen will play for a different NFL franchise (not the Redskins)
    (118 votes)
670 votes total Vote Now