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#HailMail: Redskins Enter Week 11 In First Place

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The Redskins enter Week 11 in first place in the NFC East. Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels answers fan questions as the team prepares for the Buccaneeers.

What is the timeline for Trey Quinn to hit the field on gamedays?

Funny you should ask. The Redskins activated him on Wednesday after practice and he should be in line to play Sunday against the Texans.

Quinn played eight offensive snaps and six special teams snaps in the Redskins’ first game against the Cardinals, but suffered a high ankle sprain on a punt return. He was placed on the Reserve/Injured list along with Cam Sims, who also injured his ankle that game, and has been slowly working his way back to the field.

Head coach Jay Gruden wanted to see him practice on Wednesday before officially using him as one of the two players able to be activated from the Reserve/Injured list. Now, it’s a matter of how much he’ll be used on gameday.

So far, wide receiver Maurice Harris has been playing the slot position in place of Jamison Crowder, dealing with his own ankle injury. That would likely change with Quinn back in the fold, moving Harris outside. Quinn was taking more snaps in the slot during practice on Thursday, and Jay Gruden said if he is active on Sunday, that's where he'll play.

Because it’s early, and Quinn is still getting adjusted to the game flow, he likely won’t play many snaps, but would also be the go-to guy to return punts again. He said Thursday he doesn't believe he'll have a mental block when it coes to taking on contact. Stay tuned.

How will the Redskins combat the scrambling of Deshaun Watson and the playmaking ability of DeAndre Hopkins in this Sunday’s matchup?

It’s no question that the Texans have some formidable offensive weapons. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is showing shades of last year’s self again and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is showing what he always does.

Unlike other athletic quarterbacks, such as Dak Prescott and Cam Newton, Watson isn’t as prone to running if none of his reads are initially open. For better and for worse, he holds onto the football as long as possible, looking to make a play downfield before deciding to run for it.

The downside for the Texans is an offensive line that’s allowed 30 sacks, some brought on by Watson’s own desire to stay around the pocket and make a big throw happen.

“By his record you wouldn’t be able to tell he was sacked 30 times but, I think he’s just trying to make plays, he’s still young,” linebacker Zach Brown said. “Eventually he’ll get that clock ticking in his head, but most of the time when you watch film he’ll drop back, sometimes he’ll just let the pass rush get there and then he’ll figure it out from there. You’ve got to just take away some of his receivers, he’s got good receivers so it’s going to be a challenge, especially for our DBs.”

Much like last week, going up against wide receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, among other targets, the Redskins allowed more than 500 total yards but three points. Cornerback Josh Norman trailed Evans, who finished with three catches for 51 yards, throughout most of the game while Greg Stroman eventually helped on the other side against Jackson.

That seems like what will happen against Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas, too. For them to have a better chance, though, the defensive line will need to get multiple hands on Watson. Second and third chances make it much harder for the secondary to plaster their receivers.

Why does seem like every DC can stop our offense or really slow it down? Is it because our WRs are not that good?

The answer to this question does not come down to one position group.

For the majority of this season, quarterback Alex Smith hasn’t had the benefit of working with a full offensive group. Wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. was injured early and then went to IR. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder has missed the last five games. Running Chris Thompson has missed the last two games. The offensive line lost guards Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff against the Falcons at home two weeks ago. Left tackle Trent Williams is in line to miss his third consecutive game.

It’s not ideal, and while those can’t be excuses (the Redskins have still won six games), they do explain why even some of the league’s worst defenses have had better success limiting the Redskins’ output.

In fairness, wide receiver Josh Doctson has started to play more consistently, grabbing a touchdown in the last two games, and Maurice Harris has continued to be a reliable option for Smith over the middle of the field. A couple better executed plays might have even put the Redskins in the end zone a couple more times.

"I do feel like as a whole, the consistency of execution I think is improving despite point output,” Smith said. “Certainly, there is a good chunk of that fourth quarter we did jump into some four-minute territory and I feel like we executed really well in converting some third downs and eating up a bunch of clock there at the end of that game. So yeah, I do feel like it has gotten better. But certainly like I said, those situations change weekly. You don’t know what they're going to be. You don’t know how they're going to come up. All of the sudden – sudden change – we get a turnover. All of a sudden, four-minute we're going to take a shot to Vernon [Davis], red zone, things like that. You have to prepare for all those and be able to execute them when they do come up.”

This isn’t about one unit being less superior than another. It’s about a group, which now feels like a patchwork group, continuing to refine and adjust and, in the process, hoping that the execution of big plays in key situations will start to break more of its way.

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