When training camp began three weeks ago, Chris Baker was the Redskins third string nose tackle.Now hes the backup and he has a chance to get some substantial playing time for the first time in his three-year NFL career.This is a big opportunity for me to step up and be the player I know I can be, Baker said Wednesday. I hate to see Chris go down, but when one man goes down another man has to step up.Baker was referring to Chris Neild, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during Monday. On Wednesday, Baker backed up Barry Cofield in practice.Although a few players, including Jarvis Jenkins, are able to line up at nose tackle, Shanahan hinted that its Bakers job to lose. Delvin Johnson, who is also listed as a nose tackle, appears to be a long shot to make the 53-man roster.When you get a guy that goes down, Chris has more of an opportunity to show us what he can do, Shanahan said. And hopefully he takes advantage of that opportunity.Baker said hes spent the past 10 months preparing for the challenge.The 24-year-old out of Hampton spent the first three months of last season on the Redskins practice squad. He was activated on Dec. 7, but only a few hours later, tore a quadriceps muscle and finished the season on injured reserve.Baker, who makes his home in Northern Virginia, spent the entire offseason working out at LA Fitness in Leesburg with Jenkins, who was rehabbing a surgically repaired knee. Their rigorous regimen included high repetitions with light free weights and swimming.The goal of the carefully crafted workouts was increased endurance. And that figures to help Bakers cause because defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has said he hopes to play Cofield a little less and the backup a little more in an effort to keep Cofield fresher.Hes probably in the best shape hes been in, Shanahan said of Baker, who was 350 when he arrived in Washington and now is listed at 6 foot 2, 333-pounds. Hes really looked impressive and hopefully he can keep on doing that in the preseason games.
Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.
Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.
That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.
Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).
Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.
In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.
Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.
But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:
All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vick, executed them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.
Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.
The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42
The Redskins week that was
What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like? As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.
Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.
Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.
Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position.
11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.
Tandler on Twitter
That’s seems likely now. But we have a whole NFL season to go. Suppose 49ers are a train wreck, Goff works out for LA? Different picture.— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) July 21, 2017
In case you missed it
- Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017
- #RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season begins
- The five Redskins under the most pressure entering camp