The Redskins second through fourth teamers beat the Bucs second through fourth teamers 30-3 in the preseason finale on Wednesday.But this was one of those rare games where individual performances mattered more than the final score. There were some jobs at stake and here is a look at some of the players who helped themselves during the game and some who hurt their cases for a spot on the 53-man roster.Stock upBrandon BanksAs my partner Tarik El-Bashir wrote, Banks both helped and hurt his resume. He caught a 47-yard pass from Kirk Cousins and blazed for 43 yards on an end around. Add in 66 yards in punt returns (on 5 attempts, 13.2 average) and you have 156 yards of field position and he didnt even play the whole game. A dropped pass and a muffed punt were down moments but it seemed the good outweighed the bad.Kedric GolstonIf he was on the bubble, he worked his way off of it with a performance that included a sack for a loss of eight yards and two QB hurries.Aldrick RobinsonHe didnt do much as a receiver as he didnt catch a pass in limited action on offense. But he did return two kickoffs for an average of 33.5 yards. That could make him a valuable asset if the team does decide to part ways with Banks.Bryan KehlTwo times in the previous three games Kehl got two hands on an opponents pass and he had dropped both of them. But tonight he got his hands on one and not only did he hold on to it he showed good speed in returning the interception 43 yards. Add that to six tackles and a sack and you have a pretty good day.Stock downAnthony ArmstrongHe did help his case by hauling in a 47-yard bomb from Cousins. But he probably needed more to get back into the discussion for a roster spot. That was his only real positive moment of the preseason. It may not be fair because he did miss some time with a shoulder injury but that is the way of the NFL world.Terrence AustinHe was pretty much in the same boat as Armstrong, needing an impressive performance to get on the right side of the bubble. Two catches for 10 yards is not an impressive performance by any stretch. Austin needed to do more.Niles PaulHes not on the bubble but he finished off a so-so preseason catching just one pass for six yards. Considering that Chris Cooley was released in part because the team felt that Paul could serve as the backup tight end, he could have quieted some critics with a better showing.Tim HightowerHe was on the did not play list. His knee was still sore after he had five carries and a handful of other snaps against the Colts on Saturday. Hes only on this list because even though he looked good against the Colts tonight serves as a reminder that hes still not back to anywhere near 100 percent.Tomorrow:Tandlers 53-man roster projection.
A year ago, Kirk Cousins spent the spring and summer months competing for a job on the Redskins’ roster.
This offseason, he’s working to refine his routine as the Redskins' starting quarterback.
And that work, he revealed recently, has included reaching out to current and former NFL quarterbacks and asking them about their approach to the seven months between games.
"Basically, I’m trying to figure that out still,” Cousins said. “I feel like I’m still in [that] process."
"I’ve called a few of the starting quarterbacks around the league, a few of the retired guys who had great careers," he added, "and just asked them what worked for them in the offseason."
Cousins didn’t specify which quarterbacks he’s called. But he didn’t need to. The simple fact that he’s consulting them is interesting. And telling, even for a guy known for his meticulous preparation. (Last December, Cousins said he parsed each day into 15-minute increments using a color-coded spreadsheet.)
So what did Cousins ask? A little bit of everything, from football to family.
"What was their rhythm in January, February, March?" Cousins said. "When they went back in April, May, June, what’s their rhythm? What’s their rhythm in the summer? How do they handle family? How do they balance travel and opportunities?"
Seeking information from vets who’ve handled one of the most pressure-packed jobs in sports is a wise move for the 27-year-old Cousins as he navigates his first offseason as the Redskins' most important player. Because in addition to facing increased pressure and scrutiny on the field in the coming months, there no doubt will be more people vying for Cousins’ time, as well.
More media appearances. More marketing opportunities. More, well, everything. Dealing with the increased pressure and blitz on his time will be paramount, and the fact that Cousins has gotten out in front of it all should help.
"I’m still figuring that out, so I don’t know that I have a great answer," he said. "I’m trying to get to a routine that works for me and my wife and our family. Once we start in mid-April and go ‘til mid-June, football’s a huge priority and I’m trying to get as much done here as I can."
Kirk Cousins says he's excited about up-and-coming receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson and what they'll add to the Redskins’ offense in 2016.
Cousins expects Crowder, who turns 23 next month, to make a significant jump in his second NFL offseason following a breakout rookie campaign.
“It’s a little bit of confidence and common sense, but when it’s your second year and you caught [that] many passes in your first year, you come in a little more confident and sure of yourself and you know what it means to be a pro now,” Cousins said.
A year ago at this time, Crowder was competing with veteran Andre Roberts for the slot receiver role. This offseason, all of those reps will belong to Crowder, who finished third on the team in catches (59) and receiving yards (604) in 2015.
The chemistry between Cousins and Crowder was apparent during Wednesday's practice, the first session of the spring open to media. On multiple occassions, Cousins completed tough passes to the shifty, 5 foot 8 playmaker as he was in full stride.
“All of that lends itself to taking another step forward,” Cousins added. “He’s a great teammate, smart player, has a natural sense of how to get open, how to run different option routes and choice routes, great natural hands and is really good after the catch pulling away from people. So, just add him of guys who we are excited about being able to throw to.”
The newest addition to that list, of course, is Doctson. Although Doctson, 23, was limited a bit this week due to a sore Achilles’ tendon, Cousins is already well aware of what the TCU product will bring to the Redskins’ offense.
Last season, tight end Jordan Reed was Washington’s biggest red zone threat. Now, Cousins will have Doctson, who is 6 foot 2, 206-pounds with a 41-inch vertical, as an option, as well.
“I went back and watched some of his highlights from TCU, and he is a special player,” Cousins said. “Looks like he can make the contested catch. It’s very natural for him to go up and catch that type of pass. He can run well. He has got great size. I almost thought he was a tight end when he showed up because if his size …having a guy like Josh could also be a great weapon in the red zone.”
The challenge for Docston over the remaining seven OTA practices will be getting more comfortable with the playbook so he can hit the ground running in Richmond. The challenge for Cousins will be identifying Doctson’s strengths and weaknesses, so he can develop the type of connection he already has with the other pass-catchers on the roster.
“We’ll try to build that chemistry as he’s here and as we can work together and just learn what he does well and what fits him, what he is natural at and try to get him the football,” Cousins said. “We certainly can spread it around with all the talent at the outside positions.”
Which, obviously, is another challenge for Cousins, who now must find a way to keep Crowder, Doctson, Reed, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon happy. That, however, is an issue for another blog post.
It all happened for Jordan Reed in 2015. He mostly stayed healthy - able to start 14 of 16 games - and played every game with the same quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The results broke Redskins records, as Reed hauled in 87 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Reed put up elite numbers for the tight end position, and in early May, the team paid Reed like an elite tight end. He signed a five-year, $46.5 million extension that will run through 2021, numbers that place Reed with the third-highest annual salary in the NFL.
His Redskins teammates noticed. It's common practice around the NFL for players to congratulate a new contract, and then promptly go into razz mode. It's part of the deal with getting a large contract extension, and Reed was no exception.
Asked if he had heard about his new contract during the Redskins OTA sessions this week, Reed smiled and confessed (full video above).
"I fell down yesterday and they were talking junk, ‘We ain't pay you 50 to fall down’ and things like that," Reed said on Wednesday. "They all over me man but it’s all fun."
The "50" in reference would be $50 million, so looks like the Redskins players are rounding up on Reed's deal. Plus, saying 50 is a lot easier than 46.5. More importantly, Reed knows the extra attention is meant in a fun way, and as other players have been asked about Reed's deal, all say the young tight end deserves it all.
"With Jordan Reed, you know he was so talented last year I mean how do you build on a season where you were as successful as he was?" Cousins said. "We would love to be able to develop sustained success where it is not just a one year flash in the pan and I think that is the challenge and message not just to Jordan but a lot of people."
Cousins' statement echoed the voices of many at Redskins Park. This team wants to prove that the success of 2015 was not a fluke, from GM Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden all the way down to the bottom of the roster.
And Reed is no different. On Wednesday Reed went deep on a wheel route, at least 30 or 40 yards downfield, and Cousins threw to him. The ball was slightly out of reach, yet Reed still fully extended and dove for the ball. In May. In OTAs.
"I can’t help it," Reed said when asked if the coaches and front office would want their new highly compensated tight end laying out for a ball in the offseason.
"I see the ball in the air and my instincts take over," he said. "I'm gonna go hard in practice."
Certainly Reed's size and skill were key to his new contract, but that attitude played a large role as well.