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More to watch tonight than just RG3

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More to watch tonight than just RG3

What: Redskins vs. Bills
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y.
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet (exclusive HD broadcast), NBC NonstopOn Saturday, a pair of scuffles broke out on the practice field at Redskins Park. Two days later, Coach Mike Shanahan stopped practice after a questionable hit.Indeed, the time has arrived for Redskins to begin hitting players not wearing burgundy and gold, and Thursday night theyll finally get that chance.First impressions will be made, careers will be launched and a long-suffering fan base will get its initial look at the rookie quarterback whos already been hailed as a savior.With that as a backdrop, heres are three things, in order of importance, that the crew at www.csnwashington.com will be watching as the most anticipated preseason in years gets underway:1) Robert Griffin IIIs debut, of course.The best word to describe Griffins performance through two weeks of training camp is uneven.The 22-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance, particularly on the many designed running plays that have been installed to accentuate Griffins dual-threat ability. When he gets into open space when carrying the ball, defenders are left grasping at air.But weve also been reminded quite often, actually that hes still a rookie. Griffin has, at times, struggled with his accuracy and shown the tendency to hold onto the ball for too long while reading the defense.It should also be noted that Griffin has been put on an accelerated track in practice, where the coaching staff has constantly challenged him.We feel that the harder it is in practice the easier it will be in the games, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. We know its going to be tough and were trying to put him in all these tough situations so he is prepared.Added Griffin, who is expected to take 12-20 snaps: It helps me learn what Coach is going to call in those situations, so I can get my mind set on what I need to be ready to do as far as play calling goes.The encouraging news is that Griffin has made progress in each of the teams 11 practices. By his own admission, he struggled mightily on Day 1 of training camp. And, by many accounts, Tuesdays practice was his sharpest.The question now is whether hes prepared to take the next step: making plays in a live game against defenders who are not only allowed to hit him but will relish the opportunity to do so.Mike Shanahans advice to his protg?Let the plays happen, the head coach said, dont try to make it happen.2) The injury-riddled offensive line. Griffins success against the Bills might hinge on how well the big guys up front protect him.Sidelined are starters Kory Lichtensteinger (knee) and Jammal Brown (hip). Another starter, Chris Chester, is questionable after spraining his ankle Monday.If Chester joins the others on the sideline, expect backup Adam Gettis to join fellow reserves Maurice Hurt and Tyler Polumbus in lining up with the first team.Recent acquisitions Jordan Black and Tony Moll also figure to see some playing time.If the patchwork offensive line doesnt get the job done, its going to be difficult to fairly assess Griffin.3) The kicking competition. Incumbent Graham Gano is expected to get the first kickoff. After that, the battle between Gano and veteran Neil Rackers will begin in earnest.On Wednesday, special teams coach Danny Smith explained how he plans to ensure each kicker gets ample time to prove himself. Gano and Rackers will attempt a field goal or extra point and make the ensuing kickoff, Smith said, then theyll switch.Gano is 10 years younger, a familiar face in Washington after spending three seasons here and boasts the stronger leg. But, Smith said, that doesnt necessarily mean hes got an advantage very Rackers, who has an additional nine years of NFL experience and a better career field goal percentage (80.0 vs. 73.8). Obviously I know Graham better, but my job is to get to know the other guy well too, and we have four games to do so, Smith said. You guys will know it too, Im sure most of you will be able to pick it after four preseason games. Its going to be on production.Unofficially, both kickers are 16 for 19 in three head-to-head kicking competitions. But Smith said hell place more emphasis on games.Ultimately its games, Smith added. Its execution under pressure.

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Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Is it crazy to give a quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns last season the same MVP odds as a guy who went 0-3 in three starts and tossed just four scores in 2015?

According to the sportsbook Bovada.lv, no, it's not crazy at all. So that's why, when looking at their opening odds for the 2016/17 NFL MVP, you'll find Kirk Cousins right next to Mark Sanchez, with both signal callers listed at a long 150/1.

Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, David Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Le'Veon Bell and Sam Bradford also check in at 150/1. Some of those names, like Jeffrey and Bell, should makes Redskins fans feel good, since they're both premier players at their position. But others, such as Sanchez and Bradford? Yeah, not so much.

The top five guys most likely to win the award are Aaron Rodgers (4/1), Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1) and Tom Brady (9/1). Meanwhile, if you squint hard enough, you can see Robert Griffin III near the bottom of the list at 250/1.

Not that this reminder is necessary, but here's a reminder anyway: Anything can happen in this league, so these rankings are not the be-all and end-all. Last year, for instance, Newton had 50/1 odds of being named MVP, and then he went out and did it anyway.

So, with that in mind, while Cousins is no favorite, perhaps his loaded arsenal of targets can help him claim the valuable piece of hardware. The NFL is a wild place, after all — but still probably not wild enough for Sanchez to rise to the top of the sport, which is why him landing next to Cousins hurts more than a little bit.

RELATED: COLIN COWHERD TROLLS KIRK COUSINS IN LATEST RANT

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Longtime NFL coach Dennis Green dead at 67; honored by Redskins great

Longtime NFL coach Dennis Green dead at 67; honored by Redskins great

Longtime Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green died on Friday morning from complications stemming from a cardiac arrest.

He was 67.

Green spent ten seasons as the Vikings head coach, amassing a 97-62 record which included four NFC North titles, eight playoff appearances and one NFC Champuionship game appearance.

After taking a break from coaching, he returned in 2003 to coach the Cardinals, spending three years at the helm, finishing with a 16-32 record.

Former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington was lined up across from Smith-coached offenses throughout much of his career.

As a former Penn State Nittany Lion, Arrington had much respect for Green, a Harrisburg, Penn. native and former coach at Northwestern, a fellow Big Ten school.

He was a great coach, mentor and man R I P Coach Green 🙏🏾

A photo posted by Lavar Arrington (@lavarleaparrington) on

Green was one of the NFL's great people and great characters.

While he will always be remembered for his most-game meltdown after the Cardinals blew a 20-point lead to the Bears in a Monday Night Football game in 2006, Green's lasting memory will be his commitment to respecting the game and teaching it the right way. 

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Steelers may be without Le'Veon Bell for opener against Redskins

Steelers may be without Le'Veon Bell for opener against Redskins

For a franchise that's known for assembling some incredibly stout defenses throughout its history, the Steelers have recently constructed an offense with a surplus of talent all over the depth chart.

But that offense was dealt a major blow Friday morning.

Le'Veon Bell, the team's star running back who in just three seasons has become one of the league's most feared players, is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy, according to ESPN. The reason for the penalty, though, isn't because he failed a test, it's because he missed one.

The appeal process is reportedly still going on, but if Bell doesn't win that process, he'll miss the first quarter of the 2016 schedule.

While the news obviously hurts the Steelers, it benefits the Redskins.

Washington is hosting Pittsburgh in the season opener on Sept. 12, and its run defense wouldn't mind seeing No. 26 on the sidelines in a sweatshirt during the matchup. The Black and Gold do still have the very capable DeAngelo Williams — who rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015 while filling in for an injured Bell — plus the always dangerous Antonio Brown, but their unit will of course be less threatening without its top tailback.

ESPN reports that Bell's appeal date hasn't been determined yet, but it should be heard before any meaningful football starts. He was also suspended for the first two contests last year following an arrest for a DUI and marijuana possession that occurred in August 2014.

RELATED: SIX REDSKINS HONORED FOR OFFSEASON WORK