At times during Sundays 31-28 loss in St. Louis, where post-whistle shoves, scrums and trash talk often went unchecked by replacement referees, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that he worried the volatile atmosphere would boil over.Ive never been in a situation where you felt that there was going to be an explosion on the field, Shanahan said. Youre hoping it doesnt happen. It didnt happen but I thought it was very close to losing control.With the members of the NFL referees association locked out by the league in a dispute about pay and benefits, replacement referees worked the preseason and Weeks 1 and 2 of the regular season schedule.Asked if the absence of first string referees contributed to the mayhem at Edward Jones Dome, Shanahan said: You have to keep control of whats going on the field. Once you get used to doing something, you get very used to making calls, its second nature, you go about your business. Sometimes when you dont make those calls right away people do lose their composure.
Shawn Lauvao isn’t participating in OTAs, but the Redskins guard is pleased with his progress as he rehabs from multiple offseason surgeries.
“I’m walking,” Lauvao cracked Wednesday, after watching practice from the sideline. “I thank God for that. That’s good.”
Lauvao, who says this is the best his legs have felt in years, is now getting around without the assistance of crutches or a scooter. He’s also begun ramping up the intensity of his rehab with the intention of being full-go in Richmond, Va., on July 28th.
“I’ll be ready for training camp,” he said. “That’s the plan. That’s the whole diagnosis and plan of action we have right now.”
Lauvao was playing well as the Redskins’ first string left guard early last year when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Giants. As it turned out, the 28-year-old ended up having five surgeries, including two major procedures, to repair the ankle and clean up several preexisting ailments on both legs.
“Rehab has been good,” he said. “I’ve been making progress every day. Hats off to the Skins, hats off to my support team and the guys around the building.”
“My biggest thing,” he added, “is being pain free for the first time in a while. You get used to playing with different issues in this game. It was just a compound type of deal from playing the game over the years. One thing I will say, this is the best I’ve felt in a while. I’m just grateful for that.”
Lauvao’s health could have a domino effect on the Redskins’ O-line. If he’s healthy, it’s possible he’ll regain his starting job from Spencer Long. If that happens, Long could potentially challenge Kory Lichtensteiger for the starting center spot. Long started 14 games in Lauvao’s absence last season, but has been also getting work at center this offseason.
A year ago at this time, Robert Griffin III was the Redskins’ starting quarterback and Kirk Cousins was an afterthought, relagated to taking second and even third team reps.
Now, Cousins is The Man in Ashburn. And it’s changed everything, especially how he leads in the huddle, team meetings and the locker room.
“Well, you have permission now to take ownership,” Cousins said Wednesday after the second of 10 OTAs practices at Redskins Park. “As a backup or as a guy competing for the spot, it doesn’t get received really well when you start to try to take ownership. It looks like you’re trying to jockey for the position and be one of those guys. You just try to handle it the right way.”
Last offseason, Griffin received all of the first team reps throughout the spring and summer, while Cousins and Colt McCoy split the second and third team snaps. In fact, Jay Gruden didn’t hand Cousins the keys until late August.
This offseason, it's all different. Griffin is gone and Cousins is coming off a record-breaking season. And, if Cousins doesn’t sign a long-term deal in the coming weeks, he'll play for almost $20 million in 2016. Either way, Cousins is expected to be the highest paid player on the team...in addition to being the most important player on the team.
“Now as the starter, you really can take ownership,” Cousins continued. “And it feels like it did back in college when you were the starting quarterback and you had the chance to really assert yourself.”
Cousins added: “I enjoy being able to do that, and I think it helps me as a quarterback to have ownership because at the end of the day, I’m the one holding the football in my hands.”
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."