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A Redskins-centric look around the NFL, Week 3

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A Redskins-centric look around the NFL, Week 3

Here is a Redskins-centric look around the NFL as Week 3 approaches.

—The Redskins got thumped by the Steelers at home in Week 1 and now it’s the Eagles’ turn to host Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and company. Philly also gets the Steelers without star running back Le’veon Bell, who is into final week of his three-game substance abuse suspension. But it does look like receiver Markus Wheaton, who missed the first two games with a shoulder injury, will play; he was a full go in practice all week. It will be interesting to see how rookie QB Carson Wentz performs after looking good against a couple of non-entities in the Browns and the Bears. A key injury for the Eagles is CB Leodis McKelvin (hamstring). He has been declared out so the tough task of defending Brown will be much more difficult.

—The Eagles will have right tackle Lane Johnson for the Steelers game. However, he was notified of a 10-game PED suspension this week. He gets a chance appeal on October 4. The issue should be decided by the time the Redskins host the Eagles on Oct. 16.

—The Cowboys get the Bears this week on Sunday night (what’s up with two straight prime time appearances for Chicago?). Jay Cutler is out with a thumb injury so that means that Brian Hoyer is behind center for the Bears. Will the Bears be the team to rattle Dak Prescott, who, like Wentz, has yet to throw an interception in his first two NFL games? He has been solid in Dallas’ two games, a close loss and a close win. It’s so far, so good in the Cowboys’ attempt to get to midseason in contention and then see what they can do with Tony Romo behind center. They have the 49ers after the Bears so they could well be 3-1 going into games against the Bengals and at Green Bay.

—Looking past the Giants (yes, we’re allowed to do that here since it has no effect on what the Redskins do), the injury hits keep on coming for the Browns, the Redskins Week 4 opponent. They lost their top draft pick, WR Corey Coleman, to a broken hand. He will be back later in the season but he will miss the Redskins game. Not only is the return of Robert Griffin III out since he is on injured reserve, ex-Redskins DL Stephen Paea might not make it to FedEx Field; he is hampered by an elbow injury. With Griffin and Josh McCown (shoulder) both out, rookie Cody Kessler will be the quarterback, assuming he makes it through their game at the Dolphins on Sunday.

—The Redskins’ Week 10 game against the Vikings will still be tough but they will have some key players on the shelf. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater already was out and now RB Adrian Peterson (knee) and LT Matt Kalil (hip) are going to be out for most or all of the season. Peterson went on injured reserve on Friday so he is out for at least eight weeks. Minnesota still has a pretty solid defense and Sam Bradford looked good in his debut at QB for the Vikings so they will remain a quality opponent.

—Tomorrow I like the Packers -7 over the Lions, the Steelers -3.5 at the Eagles and the Jaguars +1 at home against the Ravens. Last week I was 1-2, winning with the Saints, who covered against the Giants, and losing with the Packers and Colts.

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!