- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2016

ASHBURN — Anyone who watched the Washington Redskins’ defense get run over by the Cleveland Browns knew that tackling would be the focus of this week’s practices ahead of Sunday’s matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

“It’s something that we address, we talk about, we show, we try to create things in practice every single day,” Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “But, bottom line, the object of defensive football is to tackle the man with the ball and get him down. We’re not consistently doing that.”

Browns’ running back Isaiah Crowell recorded four runs of at least 11 yards, compiling 120 yards on just 16 carries last Sunday.

On Sunday, the Redskins face a more deceptive running back in the Ravens’ Terrance West. West is coming off of a career-best 113 yard effort against the Oakland Raiders, and the 25-year-old is brimming with confidence.

“He’s a hard worker. He’s a really determined guy, a hard runner,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s got burst, he’s got feet, he’s got all the traits.”

The Redskins also have a running back on a roll. Matt Jones is coming off of a career-high 22-carry effort in which he earned 122 yards and a touchdown against the Browns.

“On Monday I was feeling it real good laying down at home,” Jones said of his higher than usual workload. “I was kind of banged up a little bit, it’s kind of hard to get out of bed. But I’m back in that full-game rhythm.”

Jones’ running style has been decisive, as Redskins coach Jay Gruden says. Jones’ development over the last year allows him to run with a sense of tenacity, as he has grown more comfortable within his game.

“Instead of tip-toeing through the hole, he’s making faster decisions and getting his pads down,” Gruden said. “That’s half the battle right there. If you’re trying to see too much and trying to see a backdoor cut, a front cut, a bounce cut, you’re not moving your feet.”

“It’s about being a pro, and that’s the biggest challenge, just having a great game and then coming into the next week and trying to build on that,” Jones said. “So, [it’s about] being a pro and just being consistent.”

Washington allows 4.9 yards per carry, the second-worst average in the NFL. Baltimore is a bit more stingy, only allowing 3.7 yards per carry, 10th-best in the NFL. 

West may be a bit more primed for a bigger day than Jones, but with two high-octane offensive weapons in long-ball threat DeSean Jackson and prototypical red zone weapon Jordan Reed, two players Harbaugh says are key figures in his defensive game plan, Washington will have alternatives to move the ball down field.

If Baltimore’s plan is to establish a running game, the Redskins have been focusing on limiting those big breaks.

“It’s 11 versus 11,” Barry said. “We’ve got 11 guys on the field. We have plenty of able bodies to make the tackles, we just have got to do it.”

Redskins Notes

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland (ankle), linebacker Su’a Cravens (concussion), wide receiver Josh Doctson (Achilles) and cornerback Dashawn Phillips (hamstring) did not participate in Thursday’s practice. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (elbow) and offensive lineman Trent Williams (knee) were a limited participants. Defensive tackle Chris Baker, offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao, running back Robert Kelley, linebacker Trent Murphy and cornerback Josh Norman were full participants. Gruden said Breeland is still a “question mark” for Sunday’s game and that there is a “good chance” Lauvao plays at left guard. Cravens’ available for Sunday is unknown, as the team awaits doctors results on his concussion.

Gruden said newcomers Donte Whitner (safety) and Josh Evans (safety) are focusing on learning the systems. Gruden said he doesn’t expect Whitner, a three-time Pro Bowler, will have any issues with learning the Redskins‘ playbook.

“We’re taking it day-by-day, literally hour-by-hour. But it’s exciting when you get a player of his caliber in here,” Barry said. “You know, [he has] been a great player in this league for a long time, but it’s a crash-course with information right now.”

“Yesterday was the first day, today’s the second day, and we’re just taking it day-by-day and seeing where he’s at.”


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