Brown ready for breakout season with Maryland

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Brown ready for breakout season with Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- C.J. Brown earned the job as Maryland's starting quarterback last season because of his ability to run with the football.

It is a trait that makes him susceptible to injury, and the last thing the Terrapins need is to lose the only quarterback on the roster with playing experience.

In their first meeting last week, the Maryland coaching staff discussed the possibility of reducing Brown's sprints downfield -- and decided against it.

"We've got to do whatever we have to do in order to win," second-year coach Randy Edsall said Monday. "You know what? We can't sit here and play cautiously or be afraid to do the things that C.J. can do to make us better."

That means Brown will get the chance to build on a breakout season in which he scored five touchdowns and orchestrated three of the top eight rushing performances by a quarterback in school history, topped by a 162-yard effort against Clemson.

Danny O'Brien had a better arm, but he lost the job last year to Brown and ultimately left the school during the offseason.

That leaves Brown, a redshirt junior, as the unquestioned starter. Both backups are freshmen, so if Brown gets hurt, Maryland's chances of bouncing back from last year's 2-10 disappointment will be all but over.

Brown, one of four co-captains, knows this. And it doesn't change a thing.

"Anytime you think about getting hurt or playing a different way than you're used to, you're going to be more prone to injury," Brown said. "Maybe I'll be smarter in not taking a big hit or getting down, but I'm not going to change my playing style. I can only do what I do. Injuries are meant to happen, and if it does, than maybe it was just meant to be."

As a preventive measure, Brown spent hours in the weight room to beef up his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame.

"I've worked extremely hard during the offseason to maintain my body, to put on mass and put on muscle," he said.

His effort made an impression on his teammates and the coaching staff.

"C.J. has worked extremely hard. He knows that he's the quarterback, he's the leader," Edsall said. "I think he's done a tremendous job working to make himself better fundamentally as a quarterback, but he's also taken the leadership role to another level. He commands respect from his teammates."

During the season, Brown will be the focal point in the huddle. During the offseason, he led by example.

"The first thing I noticed when we came back from the winter session is that in every drill and every sprint, C.J. was coming in first," senior wide receiver Kevin Dorsey said. "You can see that he put on a show to show this is his team, that he can step up to the plate and get the job done. It hasn't stopped. He's been consistent all summer. I know he'll have a good year and show people that not only can he run, but he can pass, too."

If there was one problem Brown had last year, it was inconsistency as a thrower. He completed only 49 percent of his passes and threw seven touchdowns compared to six interceptions.

New offensive coordinator Mike Locksley worked with Brown to improve his poise in the pocket and insists things will be different this year.

"Obviously one of his strengths is his feet, but he doesn't get enough credit for his ability to throw the football," Locksley said. "We've had to tweak some mechanical things with him, but I've been really impressed with C.J. as a whole, not just as a runner. What we've got to do is find who the playmakers around him are and then just get him to play smart as a quarterback."

And, of course, keep him upright. If Brown gets hurt, the Terrapins will have to turn to Perry Hills or Caleb Rowe.

"We've got to make sure we get Perry and Caleb ready to go," Edsall said. "Hopefully, nothing would happen to C.J. But in the sport of football, in that position, those things can happen."

NOTES: The team began summer practice Monday with 17 seniors and 68 percent redshirt freshmen and sophomores, according to Edsall. ... The school unveiled its new, privately funded 3 million turf field. The word "MARYLAND" runs across midfield and both end zones have a design reminiscent of the state flag. ... Unlike last year, the players will have their names on the back of their uniforms.

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Kirk Cousins trade to 49ers could happen at combine, per NFL analyst

Kirk Cousins trade to 49ers could happen at combine, per NFL analyst

Rumors. Speculation. Repeat. 

While the Redskins work to figure out their plan with quarterback Kirk Cousins, the buzzsaw of conversation surrounding what will happen next between the team and the passer continues to escalate. For weeks, folks have connected the dots between the Kyle Shanahan era in San Francisco and the Washington QB. Cousins, remember, was drafted by the Shanahans here in D.C. before Mike and Kyle Shanahan were ousted in 2013. 

Now, with Kyle Shanahan in place as the head coach of the Niners, plenty of thought has been given to the new coach trading with the 'Skins to grab his former player. Shanahan runs great offense throughout his career, and many expect that Cousins could play well in the system. 

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said that there is a good chance that trade could go down next week at the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis. All 32 NFL teams will be in attendance, and many deals and contracts get worked out in the process. 

"I would not be shocked at all if we saw a Kirk Cousins to San Francisco trade go down at that point in time," Jeremiah said, speaking to San Diego's Mighty 1090 radio station

The offer, Jeremiah concluded, would include the Niners No. 2 overall pick, but might mean the 'Skins send back their own 17th pick. From there, Washington could turn to Colt McCoy or look for a passer with the second pick. 

Either way, it's hard to see a path for Cousins to be the 'Skins long term QB for Jeremiah. 

"I don’t think they’re going to be able to get a long term deal done," he said. "I would say greater than 50 percent chance he’s not with the Redskins next year."

There's not a lot of knowns in this contract saga, but the list of unknowns grows by the day. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. losing patience, wants Redskins to sign Kirk Cousins now

Dale Earnhardt Jr. losing patience, wants Redskins to sign Kirk Cousins now

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in Daytona Beach, Florida, ahead of this year's Daytona 500. But he's got Redskins football on his mind. 

Specifically, he's focused on how the team has handled the situation with Kirk Cousins – or not handled it, as he might argue. 

Washington could offer Cousins a long-term contract extension, franchise tag him or let him walk this offseason. But the NASCAR great has already made up his mind. He wants the team to sign Cousins for the long-haul. 

Here's what Earnhardt Jr. told For The Win's Michelle Martinelli:

Quarterbacks don’t grow on trees. You’re taking such a huge risk in the draft trying to acquire one. You look at the talented quarterbacks in the NFL and where they were drafted – not all of them were first-round picks, so it’s not about trying to get the college star. We’ve got a guy that knows the system and that has done extremely well – set franchise records, broke his own franchise record last year [in total passing yards]. Sign the damn quarterback up. Sign him up. I’m tired of waiting. Don’t even franchise tag him this season. Get him signed up.

That argument echoes how many Redskins fans feel about the situation. Solid quarterbacks are hard to find and Cousins has proven he's one of them. He's earned a long-term deal, so give it to him. 

Junior also shares most Washington fans' distaste for Tony Romo. In the event Romo becomes available, Earnhardt Jr. wants to make sure the team doesn't get any ideas about bringing him in as a short-term replacement for Cousins. 

“That would be awful,” he said. “Tony Romo’s a Cowboy, and I don’t think I would feel comfortable as a Redskins fan with him as the quarterback.”

We'll see soon enough if the folks in Ashburn take Junior's advice. 

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