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#HailMail: 2017 Raiders Week

Posted Sep 20, 2017

Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about the Redskins' roster and more as the team prepares for a Week 3 matchup with the Raiders at FedExField.

Redskins.com’s Stephen Czarda answers YOUR questions submitted on Twitter about the Redskins' roster and more as the team prepares for a Week 3 matchup with the Raiders at FedExField.


NPHarris 4 asks: What is the defensive plan for stopping Oakland's running game? #HailMail

Once again, the Redskins will face another one of the league's toughest running backs in the form of five-time Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch.

Despite spending the 2016 season in retirement, Lynch appears to have not missed a beat so far in his first year with Oakland.

In two games so far this year, Lynch has carried the ball 30 times for 121 yards and one touchdown. In a blowout victory over the New York Jets last Sunday, Lynch’s workload was light. He carried the ball only 12 times on just 23 offensive plays.

After struggling to slow down opposing running games last year, Washington has shown growth in that category this season. Yes, Todd Gurley was able to rush for 88 yards last week, but Washington is currently ninth against the run so far this year allowing just 75 rushing yards per contest.

One key to the team’s early success stopping the run has been their ability to wreak havoc without giving up big plays.

The Redskins are one of just two teams in the NFL right now to have forced three fumbles without giving up a 20-yard run. The goal this week will be to remain aggressive against “Beast Mode” and an Oakland rushing attack that also includes Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

“We might give up a run here and there, but at the end of the day we’re going to come after you, we’re going to tackle you” said Redskins linebacker Zach Brown. “It [doesn’t] matter who you are, because some of us have already played against Marshawn when he was with the Seahawks. So for us, it was the same guy that was at the Seahawks, but, you know, he’s just got a better O-line. So when we hit him, we just have to make sure we keep driving our feet.”

John G. asks: Hopkins has now missed 2 field goals in two games. Should we be worried? #HailMail

Yes, Hopkins missed a 51-yard field goal attempt in last Sunday’s victory over the Los Angeles Rams when he had enough power to hit the lengthy attempt but clanked it off one of the uprights, but the 26-year-old remains one of the best players at his position today.

It is one of the main reasons why Washington didn’t bring in any kicking competition for Hopkins during the offseason.

“I think he’s a young kid and I think he’s worth having here,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden last month. “I don’t think we really need to bring in a lot of competition, but we have a list of players to bring in if they struggle, just like everybody else at every other position. But I have total confidence that [the specialists] won’t struggle and they’re going to be a great weapon for us. Hop can bang it.”

Between Washington’s four preseason and two regular season games this year, Hopkins is 10-of-12 on his field goal attempts and a perfect 10-of-10 on extra point tries. He has also had six of his kickoffs downed for touchdowns, tied for the 11th best mark through two weeks. Field goals of 50-plus yards are far from automatic, as last Sunday proved for Hopkins. But he has shown the past that he can kicks from that distance.

While Hopkins started strong before dealing with some inconsistencies midway through last season, the Redskins remain high on the fourth-year Florida State product.

DorianB asks: How much Samaje should we expect with Kelley being Day to day?

This will be something that we’ll have to monitor as the week progresses. Kelley, as you mentioned, is currently day-to-day as he deals with a rib injury suffered in the second quarter of Washington’s victory over the Rams.

He’ll have three days of practices to test the injury, but if he can’t play on Sunday the team will likely look to rookie Samaje Perine as the featured back with Chris Thompson and Mack Brown serving their own roles.

After not playing offensive snaps in Washington’s regular season opener against the Eagles, Perine appeared on 26 plays against Los Angeles’ defense.

The Oklahoma product got off to a bit of a slow start, as he had just 12 yards on his first five carries. But as the game wore on, Perine started to get into a groove.

On Washington’s 10-play, 70-yard game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, the 5-foot-11, 236 pounder carried the ball seven times for 38 yards.

“I think I felt him run with a lot of power,” Gruden said. “Even after his 10th, 12th, 15th carry, I still think he had power left in the tank, which was good to see. A lot of times you don’t know how their stamina is going to be when they get more than 10-12 carries, but I think his stamina was outstanding and he ran with great pad level and got the tough, physical yards we needed.”

Some have wondered if it should be Thompson as the feature back if Kelley is sidelined, especially with his red-hot start to this season. But Gruden doesn’t want to expand Thompson’s role too much.

“Chris has got such a defined role for this offense and it could be expanded, but he’s so important to us on third down we just have to be careful,” Gruden said. “He’s not the biggest guy in the world. We don’t want him to get 20-25 carries a game and get a lot of pounding on that body. He’s definitely needed in pass protection and the routes and all that stuff on third down and red zone. So we’ll try to expand his role a little bit, but we don’t want to go too crazy with him.”

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