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By his own standards Cousins' performance isn't measuring up

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By his own standards Cousins' performance isn't measuring up

Kirk Cousins likes to look at numbers. Two, in particular, get his attention.

"I always like to look at third down and red zone as two important ones,” the Redskins quarterback said last week. “You know, if you’re over 50 percent in both of those, you’re going to be near the top of the league, in a better position that most teams, so that’s something we’re always going to look at.”

Cousins was referring to the overall performance of the offense on third down and inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. But he certainly examines his own performance in those areas and he can’t be happy with what he sees so far this season, especially considering how good his numbers were in those key areas in 2015.

Let’s take a look at his performances on third down passes this year compared to 2015 (stats via Pro Football Reference.com):

First thing, let’s establish that 2016 is a small sample size, so it would be a mistake to draw any lasting conclusions. But this year’s numbers do serve as a snapshot of how Cousins has played in the first two games this year. And it’s not good compared to the previous year or the rest of the league (the league’s QBs have a cumulative 89.4 this year).

I also took a quick peek at Cousins’ third-down numbers for the first two games last year, during the period he supposedly was struggling. He completed 75 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions, a passer rating of 84.8.

How about Cousins’ passing stats in the red zone?

Again, the small sample size warning applies here. But like with the third down numbers you don’t need any kind of advanced degree in statistics to figure out that Cousins isn’t getting it done in an area where he got it done last year. To look at an even smaller sample, through two games last year Cousins had thrown five passes, completed four for two TDs and a passer rating of 127.1. And remember this is when he supposedly was struggling.

Overall, Cousins’ numbers don’t look bad. He has completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempts with a passer rating of 90.2. Those are respectable. But he needs to get it done in pressure situations and by the very numbers he uses to evaluate the performance of the offense it’s just not happening.

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Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

Long injury list hampers Redskins practice

As Jay Gruden stepped to the podium to read the injury report, he warned, “This will be a while.”

He was right, as he rattled off one the longest injury reports of the season.

Out were G Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion), DE Chris Baker (ankle), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Anthony Lanier (lower leg), G Shawn Lauvao (groin), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), and S Donte Whitner (illness).

Of that group, all but Jean Francois, Lanier, and Nsekhe are starters. Between them and the limited players listed below it was difficult for the Redskin to conduct a normal practice.

“It was a challenge,” said Gruden of getting through it. “Practice was modified quite a bit today. We did more walkthrough today than we ever have on a Wednesday.”

“Sometimes you have to taper back just a hair to make it through practice, try to get the mental reps in with walkthrough and then hopefully the physical part will come maybe tomorrow. Friday we can open them up a bit.”

Limited in practice were TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), OLB Preston Smith (groin), ILB Will Compton (hip), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and TE Derek Carrier (knee).

Reed returned to practice for the first time since suffering a Grade 3 sprain to the AC joint in his left shoulder in the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. He missed the game in Arizona. While his limited participation was a good sign for his return it’ is way too early in the week to say with any degree of certainty that he will be playing against the Eagles.

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Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

Robert Griffin III set to start Sunday for Browns vs. Bengals

RGIII is finally getting another chance to play.

Plagued by injury after injury — most recently breaking a bone in his left shoulder in the Brown’s 29-10 loss to the Eagles in their season opener — the former Redskin is set to start for Cleveland against the Bengals on Sunday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

Griffin was cleared for contact last week after missing the majority of the Browns’ 0-12 season, and the team is coming off a bye week after its last loss to the Giants over Thanksgiving weekend.

In 2015, Kirk Cousins replaced Griffin as starting quarterback, and the Redskins released him at the end of the season. He signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cleveland in March.  

In Griffin’s absence, the Browns have relied on Cody Kessler and Josh McCown, who boast a 65.5 and 54.5 completion percentage, respectively. The two combine for just 12 touchdowns this season.

Will Griffin be the key to ending the Browns’ winless season? We’ll find out Sunday.

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