The Redskins RB curse

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The Redskins RB curse

Alfred Morris is the early favorite to be the Redskins leading rusher but he might not want to be. In recent years the status of being the Redskins top ground gainer has rivaled the Sports Illustrated or Madden covers in terms of being bad luck. The news that Roy Helu Jr., who led the team with 640 yards on the ground in 2011, has been placed on the injured reserve list means that the Redskins will have a new leading rusher for the fourth year in a row.Clinton Portis led the team in rushing for three straight seasons, from 2007 through 2009.In 2010 Portis had a groin injury that limited him to five games. Ryan Torain, a Mike Shanahan reclamation project from Denver, ran for 742 yards to pace the Redskins running attack.But Torain fell out of favor with the coaching staff due to his inability to stay healthy. That prompted them to trade for Tim Hightower just after the 2011 lockout ended. Last year Torain played in nine games, starting four, and rushed for 200 yards on 59 carries. He was released shortly before the end of the season.Even leading the team in rushing for even a partial season has proven to be bad luck. Last year, Hightower had a team-best 321 yards on the ground when he suffered a torn ACL in the sixth game of the season. That opened the door for Helu to take the team rushing title.For most of their history the Redskins have had pretty good stability at running back. Only once before have the Redskins had four different leading rushers in four years. From 1992-1995 the season leaders were Earnest Byner, Reggie Brooks, Ricky Ervins, and Terry Allen.

No brawl, just competition between Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins

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No brawl, just competition between Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins

Before the public knew him as the NFL's best cornerback of the 2015 season, Josh Norman was best known for getting in a scuffle with quarterback Cam Newton at the Carolina Panthers training camp last August.

While it's crystal clear that Norman brought his gift of the gab from Charlotte to Washington, D.C., a potential dustup between the brash cornerback and star quarterback Kirk Cousins is probably not on the horizon.

"Well, you know, " Norman said with great laughter following Wednesday's OTA. "What can I say? Kirk and I are just a little bit different."

The dust up between Newton and he was all the talk of 2015 training camp, and while it looked bad on the surface, it wasn't much more than two incredibly competitive players, both of whom also enjoy talking smack, refusing to back down. 

The dynamic between he and Cousins is different. Not bad or not positive, just not what it was with Newton.

"There are limits to my madness," Norman said, again, with a great big smile across his face. "But, umm... yeah I think it will be just a bit better," Norman quipped, with the entire group of reporters and personnel laughing. Kirk's my guy. He's great."

But that's not to say Cousins isn't going to make it a competition.

Norman noted that the quarterback was a bit more lively under center on Wednesday, throwing playful jabs at the defense.

 "I was like, 'I don't want to go there yet. I want to be cool,'" Norman said, smile always present. "He looked away a couple times and he didn't throw no balls so I got a little jubilant, ya know? I was like, 'alright, what are you gonna do about it?' Just a little competition."

"I think, on the last play with the ones, he threw a ball, and completed it, and Kirk got all excited again. I was like 'Kirk, I'm gonna whoop y'all butt today."

While no one wants to see teammates fight, Norman brings a level of competitiveness the Redskins can definitely use. While the scuffle with Newton was a hot-button issue, the fact remains that the Panthers' team chemistry was as good as it ever was. The team's cohesiveness was one of the main reasons the Panthers were in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50.

Norman is hoping he can provide competition needed to take the Redskins to the next level, albeit without a fight. 

"It's all fun and games," Norman said to media members.

"We make each other better. We just have to keep challenging each other."

RELATED: TEAMMATE BELIEVES JORDAN REED IS NFL'S BEST ROUTE-RUNNER

Redskins teammates already putting Jordan Reed in elite class

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Redskins teammates already putting Jordan Reed in elite class

Jordan Reed is expected to be front-and-center for the Redskins' offense in 2016, and with good reason.

The athletic tight end had his best season as a pro in 2015, hauling in 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. Reed was also the healthiest he's been since he entered the league in 2012.

The organization has made it clear that Reed is a key cog in their machine, signing him to a five-year, $50-million contract extension earlier in the month

Simply put, Reed is a matchup nightmare. He is part of the new breed of tight ends: Physical freaks with uncanny athleticism and unparalleled agility for someone of that stature.

But where Reed really stands out is in his route-running.

Reed's route-running isn't just good, it's great.

Former Maryland standout and two-time Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis was signed by the Redskins this offseason to provide guidance and depth to the position. He's had very little time to work with Reed, but it's clear to him that Reed's ability to run routes isn't just the best among tight ends, but the best among every pass-catcher in the NFL.

"I think Jordan Reed runs routes better than the best wide receivers in the National Football League," Davis told reporters following OTAs on Wednesday. "Route-running is his super power."

It may be hard to fathom given the type of season Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown had a year ago, or just how easy Cincinnati's A.J. Green and Atlanta's Julio Jones makes it look. On top of that Reed has to be compared to Seattle's Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. But the praise coming from a standout tight end like Davis should be evident to just how good Reed is. But Davis isn't the only teammate effusive in praise.

Kirk Cousins looked Reed's way often last season, and very rarely did the decision to do so end up in an incompletion. During the last four games of the season, in which the Redskins went 4-0 and locked up an NFC East championship, Cousins threw to Reed 31 times, and Reed caught all but two of the passes. 

When asked if Reed still needs to improve, Cousins was quite honest. "Does he have to improve a lot?" he quipped at the pool of reporters at the Redskins' facility.

"Well, he was pretty good last year."

RELATED: WHEN WILL DESEAN JACKSON SHOW UP?

Redskins rookie WR Josh Doctson held out of OTAs

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Redskins rookie WR Josh Doctson held out of OTAs

Everybody wants to see what first-round rookie WR Josh Doctson can do when out on the field with Kirk Cousins and the Redskins first-team offense - but they were forced to wait on Wednesday. Washington decided to keep their prized rookie off to the side working with trainers while the team took part in individual and team drills.

"Just kind of Achilles got rolled up on, and I’m just taking it easy," Doctson said after the OTA session. "It happened back in minicamp, so I’m just trying to take it easy for the day. I’ll be back out there tomorrow."

'Skins coach Jay Gruden echoed Doctson's comments, saying the team was using precaution with the rookie.

"Sore Achilles," the coach said of Doctson. "We're just trying to be smart with him. We don't want it to reoccur."

While Doctson battled a broken wrist last November in college, the Achilles injury is new, though both coach and player did not seemed alarmed. 

DeSean Jackson also missed Wednesday's practice session, leaving the Redskins WR group down two of their most explosive players. 

"I’ll go tomorrow," Doctson said. "Just a small tweak."

As for the missed OTA session, the rookie still tried to absorb as much as he could.

"I’m trying to learn, take mental reps. Everything’s going pretty easy right now, learning from the older guys and just watching them," he said. "I’m not happy I ain’t get to practice today, but I understand I gotta take it easy."