STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
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The Redskins may or may not have tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. But they know the Lions are vulnerable to good receiving tight ends.
It's not a matchup that has gone well for Detroit this season. Los Angeles tight end Lance Kendricks had five catches and a touchdown against the Lions last week.
Reed is a difficult matchup even for teams with good personnel. But if he does miss a second consecutive game, Detroit will still have to deal with Vernon Davis.
The former San Francisco 49ers standout was traded to Denver last fall. After a decent start there, he faded into irrelevance as the Broncos won a Super Bowl.
At 32, Davis is far from the player he once was. But he has been productive in a secondary role for the Redskins. And in relief of Reed last week, Davis managed a touchdown catch and a 37-yard reception.
WR DeSean Jackson missed practice on Wednesday with a shoulder injury.
TE Derek Carrier is eligible to return to practice any time now but remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he continues recovery from torn right knee ligaments in December. He worked on a side field Wednesday with team trainers during practice.
ILB Su'a Cravens again was a limited participant for the fourth consecutive practice as he tries to return from an Oct. 9 concussion. Cravens' status for the game against Detroit on Sunday remains in doubt.
OLB Ryan Kerrigan will start his 87th consecutive game on Sunday, which is tied for second most among all NFL linebackers. He has not missed a start yet during his six-year career.
OLB Trent Murphy has already set his career high with five sacks through six games. Murphy switched to defensive end during training camp before injuries forced him back to his original position.
The Redskins were the team that once couldn't get off the field. After three games, opponents were converting 57.5 percent of third-down attempts. That was an astounding 10.5 percentage points behind the Lions (47 percent), who ranked 31st at the time.
Washington has become much better in that area (45 percent). Detroit has gone in the opposite direction (49.3 percent). That gives the Redskins' potent offense, ranked sixth in the NFL in yards per game (387.2), an obvious weakness to attack. The Lions have the worst interception rate in the NFL (1.46 percent).
Having defensive end Ziggy Ansah back healthy for the second week in a row will help Detroit. But the Redskins don't give up many sacks, either. Only Oakland has allowed fewer per pass attempt than Washington.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Right guard Brandon Scherff has taken a big step forward in his second season. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 draft has helped spur a rushing attack that has jumped to fourth in rushing yards per attempt (4.80) and is second in sacks allowed per pass attempt (3.52 percent).
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Lions DE Ziggy Ansah, who had 14.5 sacks last season and returned from an ankle injury to play against the Rams on Sunday, vs. Redskins LT Trent Williams, the four-time Pro Bowler who has helped limit the opposition to eight sacks of quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Redskins CB Josh Norman, who has eight passes defended, an interception and a forced fumble this season, vs. Lions WR Marvin Jones, who is seventh in the NFL in receiving yards (529).