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Some of the same, old problems for Redskins

(TSX / STATS) -- ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins noted some ominous signs exiting a disappointing 30-17 loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Issues present during an 8-7-1 season in 2016 were there in force again in the season opener. A big one: The Redskins still struggle to run the ball, which puts too much pressure on quarterback Kirk Cousins and a revamped wide receiver corps.

Running back Chris Thompson did take a short pass from Cousins 29 yards for a touchdown as he bounced off Eagles defenders. But otherwise, Thompson and starter Rob Kelley carried the ball just 13 times between them for 34 yards. Cousins was actually Washington's top rusher with 30 yards on four carries. None of that was near good enough to ease the pressure on a ragged passing game.

"It's not even play-calling," Kelley said. "It's just us, as a team, we have to execute, especially in the run game. Ten guys do something right and one does something wrong, it messes up the play."

The major concern for the Redskins is if the talent just isn't there to produce on the ground. Kelley's play dropped off at the end of last season after he took over for Matt Jones in Week 9. Thompson is a versatile third-down back, but the coaching staff is wary of using him too much given his dicey injury history. Jones was cut at the end of training camp.

Rookie running back Samaje Perine played only on special teams and Mack Brown was not even active for the game. Washington head coach Jay Gruden has returned to play-calling duties after offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. The Redskins play the Rams on Sunday.

"Our offense is always going to hum along at a much more efficient rate when we're running the ball well and can keep defenses unaware," Cousins said. "If you can honor the run, then hopefully you open up some windows in the pass game. I would have loved to run the ball better."

Gruden was critical of his offensive line, but acknowledged that wasn't the only problem. It is the same group that played together most of last season save for Pro-Bowl left tackle Trent Williams' four-game suspension for a failed drug test. Williams briefly left Sunday's game with an ankle injury and right tackle Morgan Moses didn't miss a snap, but played through an ankle injury of his own.

Center Spencer Long, less than three weeks after knee surgery, played the entire game. Still, that group struggled against the Eagles' stout defensive front. It all added up to a poor performance that must improve quickly at Los Angeles.

"I think 13 of our rushes by running backs, eight of them were positive, five of them were negative. That's not a very good percentage," Gruden said. "That's not just the offensive line, you know, sometimes it's the back, sometimes it's the tight end. We all have our hand in it."

--Redskins second-year wide receiver Josh Doctson didn't start or make an impact in the season opener against Philadelphia. Doctson, who missed three of four preseason games with a hamstring injury, was on the field for 20 snaps. He was not targeted by quarterback Kirk Cousins, though is still expected to contribute in a larger capacity soon. Doctson, the No. 22 overall pick in the 2016 draft, will have to earn that time in practice, according to Washington head coach Jay Gruden. He missed all but two games of his rookie season with sore Achilles tendons and the hamstring injury was a setback during training camp.

"I don't think it is a 'readiness issue.' I think Josh is ready to go," Gruden said. "I think it is something more that he has to perform and he has to play well to earn more playing time. He hasn't practiced a whole lot. Last year he didn't practice a whole lot. This year, he has been in and out of the lineup a little bit. I think once he establishes himself as an everyday player, he is going to get the reps and he is going to prove that he is one of our top receivers."

--The Redskins are playing the same waiting game with outside linebacker Junior Galette, who missed consecutive seasons with torn Achilles tendons, but has a track record. Galette had 22 sacks total in 2013 and 2014 with the New Orleans Saints. Washington is using Galette sparingly early this season with just 16 snaps against the Eagles. He made the most of that time, though. Galette was credited with two hits on Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz and sacked him, too - though that play was wiped out because a teammate was offside on the snap and Galette's emotional celebration was cut short.

"We've got to ease Junior back to make sure he's ready to go," Gruden said. "I think he's very similar to Josh. He's going to earn his right and get more and more reps. I think next week you'll see him probably get 25 reps or 30. ... Just get these guys going, make sure you don't push the envelope too far, fast. Make sure they're ready to go, and when they are ready, we'll let them loose."

NOTES: WR Jamison Crowder muffed a punt in Sunday's loss to Philadelphia, but is in no danger of losing his job, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Crowder fumbled two punts as a rookie, but none last season. ... CB Bashaud Breeland has agitated for years to return kickoffs and will remain in that spot again in Week 2 even after struggling with three returns for 59 total yards against Philadelphia, including an indecisive return where he tried to kneel outside the end zone before realizing his mistake. ... LT Trent Williams said he could have remained on the field after a second-half ankle injury in the Philadelphia loss necessitated an injury timeout. He missed just four snaps on Sunday. ... OLB Ryan Kerrigan has three career interceptions after Sunday's pick against the Eagles - and all have been returned for a touchdown. Kerrigan's last interception and touchdown came in 2012. ... TE Jordan Reed had a quiet game Sunday with five catches for 39 yards vs. Philadelphia and a long play of nine yards, but said afterward the sore big toe that limited him during training camp wasn't a factor.

Updated September 11, 2017

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