Redskins add defensive depth

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Redskins add defensive depth

With a defensive secondary showing some holes, the Washington Redskins waived injured cornerback Crezdon Butler and signed David Jones, the team said in a statement.

Jones played cornerback with the Redskins during the preseason, registering eight tackles and defending three passes before he was released by the team on Aug. 31. Jones was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2007 and has also had stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals.

Butler was claimed off waivers by the Redskins on Sept. 1.

Along the defensive front the Redskins released defensive lineman Delvin Johnson from the practice squad. Taking his place on the practice squad is Chigbo Anunoby, a 6-4, 324 lb. who broke into the NFL as a free agent signing with the Indianapolis Colts on April 30, 2012.

Josh Norman sees the fiery side of Kirk Cousins at Redskins OTAs: 'I was like, calm down'

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Josh Norman sees the fiery side of Kirk Cousins at Redskins OTAs: 'I was like, calm down'

After two days practicing against Kirk Cousins, new Redskins CB Josh Norman knows how fiery the quarterback can get. And remember, Norman faced off against Cam Newton for years with the Panthers, so the corner knows a bit about excitable passers.

Minor sparks flew a bit on Wednesday when, after a 20-yard completion to Pierre Garçon, Cousins ran down the field to hug the receiver and celebrate what would have been a first down. Cousins' excitment outpaced the rest on the practice field and Norman was asked after the OTA session about his new quarterback.

"I was like - God, calm down," Norman said. "I don’t want to go there yet. I'm gonna be cool."

Perhaps Norman doesn't want to go there yet because he's new to the team, or maybe because it's May, but one way or another he will need to get used to Cousins. Off the field, Cousins is cerebral, soft-spoken and courteous.

On the field, it's different story. It's been evident in practice since Cousins took over as the starting quarterback, and the world saw Cousins' passion with the famous "You Like That" explosion. 

That doesn't mean Norman will back down.

"I came back out here and he looked away a couple times and didn’t throw the ball so I got a little jubilant," he said.

For a corner, the QB going a different direction almost means as much as being able to make a play on the ball. But the play in question, the completion to Garçon?

Norman knew exactly what happened.

"The last play the [starters] were out he threw a ball and he completed it and got excited again," Norman said. "I was like Kirk, man, we whipped y’all butt today. Calm it down a little bit."

At Wednesday's practice, the Redskins defense looked better than the offense. It's not worth taking much from a May session with no pads on, but the competition is real.

"We're only gonna make each other better," Norman said. "We just gotta keep challenging them, and they keep challenging us."

DeAngelo Hall on DeSean Jackson's OTAs absence: 'You want him here, but...'

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DeAngelo Hall on DeSean Jackson's OTAs absence: 'You want him here, but...'

DeSean Jackson’s teammates would prefer that the star receiver join them for OTAs, but one prominent Redskins veteran said this week that the locker room is confident Jackson is working out on his own.

“You want him here, but like I was telling someone else, you understand he has things going on,” safety DeAngelo Hall said. “He has a newborn and he lives all the way on the west coast. It’s not like his home is an hour-and-a-half away like mine, where I can jet down to Atlanta every now again and be around the family. He has to go a long way.”

“We understand that D-Jac is going to work,” Hall continued. “Same thing with Trent [Williams]. Trent went to Houston [to work with his personal trainer], just got back [on Wednesday] and he’s probably in the best shape I’ve seen him since I’ve been here. As long as guys are working, I don’t think we mind too much.”

Jackson has attended some of the Redskins’ offseason program, but he has not been present for this week’s OTA practices—the first group of 10 voluntary sessions. And, according to Coach Jay Gruden, it’s not clear when exactly Jackson will return. Gruden joked that Jackson will “probably show up next week, or it could be whenever.”

Jackson missed a portion of last year’s offseason program, as well. And while there was some speculation that his absence contributed to the hamstring injury that hampered him early in 2015, Gruden has consistently denied that there was any connection.

As for the team-building aspecct of OTAs, though, there’s little doubt that Jackson’s absence could have an impact in that area. 

“Obviously, you want guys around,” Hall added. “You want that camaraderie.You want to build that team unity. But that’s what training camp is for and [mandatory minicamp in June] is for. Yes, you want him here, but this is an offense he knows and he knows himself. When you’ve got a guy who knows himself, you want them to train the way they want to train.”

But Hall—and new teammate Josh Norman—want Jackson back at work for selfish reasons, too. They are eager to test themselves against the fastest wide receiver on the roster.

“I’m just excited about getting him out here,” Hall said. “Josh is excited about getting him out here. We want to go against him. We’re juiced up to get him out here.”  

Redskins' big-money players keep grinding

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Redskins' big-money players keep grinding

The Redskins have more players with healthy bank accounts at OTAs this week than they did at this time in 2015.

Homegrown stars Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams received big-money contract extensions last summer. Jordan Reed, a 2013 third-round pick, got his lucrative extension a few weeks ago. Kirk Cousins will have the biggest weekly paychecks on the team on the team with his $19.95 million franchise tag salary representing a massive increase from his 2015 salary of around $660,000. And Josh Norman cashed in when he was unexpectedly made a free agent in late April and signed with Washington for five years and $75 million.

But none of the players with newly found wealth carried their fat wallets onto the field with them on Wednesday, when the team’s OTA practice was open to the media. Kerrigan hustled through drills knocking down tackling dummies like he was an undrafted free agent trying to make an impression. Norman competed hard during team drills and engaged in some friendly trash talking with Cousins. The quarterback obviously had put a lot of preparation work in for the OTA as he was sharp and in control. Reed went into a full dive in an attempt to catch a slightly overthrown Cousins pass down the sideline.

It’s no coincidence that the team’s highest-paid players are also among the hardest workers at Redskins Park. Such character has been an emphasis of Scot McCloughan, now in his second year in charge of personnel.

Other players on the team notice the pattern.  

“I think they’ve done a good job of getting the right kind of guys around to build on the team,” said veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall after an OTA practice on Wednesday. “It’s about winning, it’s about team first. You’ve got Josh, J Reed, Kirk, a lot of these guys are getting paid. You don’t see the mindset changing. You see Kirk, Josh working hard, J Reed working hard and that’s what it has to be.

“Just because you’ve got money, they can take it from you the next day. You keep grinding, keep your foot on the throat. These guys come out here ready to work every day.”

McCloughan’s hope is that rewarding players who work hard will start a cycle, with young players coming in and seeing the guys who do things the right way getting rewarded. They seem to be off to a promising start with the first part of the cycle, we will see if the payoff comes down the line.