NFL Wire News

Redskins need a push from D-line


The Sports Xchange

ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins haven’t generated enough pressure from the defensive line this season. While they are a passable 19th in sacks per pass attempt (5.83 percent), six of the seven defensive linemen have combined for only four sacks in seven games.

That’s not good enough, especially with young players at right outside linebacker (Preston Smith, Trent Murphy) and left outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (3.5 sacks) rusty early after offseason knee surgery.

One shining star? Chris Baker, the former practice squad player who has turned himself into a legitimate starter. He appeared headed to a reserve role after Washington signed Stephen Paea in March.

Instead, Baker has 3.5 sacks, a career high, has forced two fumbles, recovered one and is back in a starting role next to good friend Terrance Knighton, the nose tackle.

Last year Baker played nose tackle and excelled when injuries struck at that spot. The year before he was a defensive end. He moved back after Knighton signed with the team.

“(Baker has) been our most disruptive lineman,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s been good in the pass rush and in the run game he gets great penetration. The great challenge for him is can he do it on a consistent basis?”

The Redskins and Patriots are in different conferences and only see each other every four years during the regular season. But they aren’t totally unfamiliar with each other.

Washington hosted New England last summer at its training camp in Richmond, Va. The teams held joint practices together for three days and then had a preseason game at FedEx Field later in the week.

There has been significant roster turnover for both teams since those practices. But the Redskins earned a crash course in how the Patriots do things — some of which they included in their own methods this summer, including a post-practice stretching session.

“They practice as such,” Kerrigan said. “Really efficient in their practice habits, guys played hard and were physical. That seems to translate to Sundays.”

Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson (left hamstring) again insisted he feels on track to play Sunday, barring a setback. That happened two weeks ago as Jackson increased his on-field activity and he was scratched from the Jets game on Oct. 18. He’s again taking greater part in practice this week with individual drills and one-on-one battles vs. cornerbacks. That’s a good sign. Will that help the Redskins’ struggling running game? That remains to be seen.

“I don’t think it’s a drastic difference,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “I think teams are still going to play their coverages and play them honestly. I think in one-on-one and man-on-man coverage that’s when defenses will be influenced by the threat [Jackson] poses vertically.”

NOTES: Linebacker LB Ryan Kerrigan (broken right hand) will see his surgeon on Thursday and expects to gain clearance for Sunday’s game in New England. Kerrigan practiced with a cast on the injured hand on Wednesday, but was listed as limited on the team injury report. … Defensive end Jason Hatcher (knee) took what was called a veterans’ day off on Wednesday, working on the side with team trainers. But he’s battled knee soreness for two full seasons, including a 2014 offseason surgery. … Center Kory Lichtensteiger (neck) is still trying to regain strength on his left side thanks to a compressed disc. He didn’t participate in practice on Wednesday and is a longshot to play on Sunday. Lichtensteiger has missed the last two games. … Quarterback Kirk Cousins, the reigning NFC offensive player of the week for his performance in a 24-point comeback win over Tampa Bay, ranks third in the NFL in sack percentage (2.9 percent). … Wide receiver Jamison Crowder, a fourth-round pick out of Duke, is third in the NFL is receptions by a rookie with 32. … Tight end Jordan Reed is fourth in yards per catch at his position with 188 despite missing two games (concussion).

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