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Camp preview: LB's are the team's strength

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Camp preview: LB's are the team's strength

The Redskins start training camp on Thursday. Were going around the team to let you know what were looking for when practice gets underway. Yesterday we looked at the offense (line, backsreceivers). We start the defense today with the line and linebackers.Anticipated starters:LDE Adam Carriker
NT Barry Cofield
RDE Stephen Bowen
ROLB Brian Orakpo
LOLB Ryan Kerrigan
MLB London Fletcher
JLB Perry RileyCarriker might get challenged for his starting job (see Jarvis Jenkins below) but otherwise this group is set in stone. The linebacking corps is the strength of the team and that group is set up for success by the workmanlike guys up front. This will be their second full season playing as a unit (Riley played for half of the year) and should only get better. Their task during training camp will be to stay healthy and fine tune.Key reserves:DE Jarvis Jenkins
NT Chris Neild
OLB Rob Jackson
LB Lorenzo AlexanderJenkins has the talent to start but the versatility he showed in camp last year before he got injured may make him more valuable in a reserve role. He can rotate to give Bowen and Carriker a rest and play nose tackle on passing downs to provide some rush up the middle. Alexander can play inside or outside linebacker but even if he doesnt play a snap on defense his role on special teams makes him one of the teams key players.On the bubble:DE Kedric Golston, Kentwan Balmer, Darrion Scott, Doug Worthington
NT Chris Baker
LB Markus White, Chris Wilson, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl,The DEs listed are fighting for one or two spots. It seems like the coaches would like to see Balmer succeed as they are impressed with his size (6-5, 315) and the ability that made him a first-round pick of the 49ers. Robinson is not really on the bubble but he is unlikely to see many defensive snaps as he trains to be Fletchers eventual replacement. While it seems that Neild is safe, Baker could sneak up and steal his spot.Three things to watch:Will Riley take the next step? Riley did a lot of learning on the job last year, mixing some big plays with some obvious errors. If he can keep making the good plays while drastically reducing the mistakes the defense will be that much better.Can Cofield master the position? He came into camp last year right after signing as a free agent with little time to learn his new position. At about 310 lb., Cofield is quite a bit lighter than the typical 3-4 nose tackle but he managed the position last year by using leverage and quickness. With the offseason program behind him and a full training camp to work on his techniques he might be able to go from being adequate at the position to being pretty good.How long can London keep on keeping on? In a way, thats a dumb question as Fletcher shows no signs of slowing down. But all football players hit the wall at some point; its not a question of if, its a question of when. Chances are that he will play virtually every snap this year and lead the team in tackles again. But at some point . . .What do you want us to watch? Who do you think is on the bubble? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag RedskinsTalk.

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Why the Cleveland Browns might be a legitimate landing spot for Kirk Cousins

Why the Cleveland Browns might be a legitimate landing spot for Kirk Cousins

For a signal caller looking to take the next step in his career, the consensus around the NFL is that Cleveland isn't the best spot to do so, and for good reason. The constant quarterback and coaching turnover that happens in the Browns organization makes them the antithesis of stable.

Therefore, when a report this week stated that there may be some intrigue between Kirk Cousins and the league's worst team, a fair amount of eyebrows were raised. But in a new #RedskinsTalk podcast, Redskins Insider JP Finlay and NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo discussed the merits of playing in Cleveland (yes, that sentence was intentionally included in this story and is not a mistake).

"I feel like Cleveland is looking for a veteran option," Garafolo told Finlay. "I really believe that."

"Hue Jackson wants to win now," he continued. "That feeling of losing that he had last year did not sit well with him, and he got emotional at a few points during the season. So I think he's looking to turn this thing around quickly, and not make this a longer rebuild. And the way you do that is with a veteran quarterback."

So far, most have only made a connection between Cousins and his former coach Kyle Shanahan, who's now in charge of the 49ers. But Jackson has a reputation similar to Shanahan's of being a guy who's desirable to play for, even with his unsightly 1-15 record from 2016.

MORE REDSKINS: GRUDEN ANTICIPATES THAT COUSINS WILL BE QB NEXT YEAR

In addition, even with Tuesday's news that the Redskins placed an exclusive franchise tag on No. 8, a trade is still possible between Washington and another franchise, which is why Garafolo "could see [the Browns] certainly emerging as a strong candidate for Cousins."

Another thing to consider is Cousins' aspiration to suit up for a team that wants him, something he's made clear in recent months. If he doesn't feel that way with the Burgundy and Gold, he could force their hand by not agreeing to a long-term deal (if he's offered one), which in turn could push the Redskins to trade him to ensure they get something for him.

Garafolo can also see that affecting how the next few months go.

"The other thing you got to remember about Cousins," he said, "is that he's so frustrated with the lack of a commitment from the Redskins now, that a team that is going to be able to convince him, 'Hey come here...we've got the right plan, we'll build around you, I'm a quarterback friendly coach,' you know what? That may be enough to sell him."

Cousins has already formed a nice relationship with one former Bengals offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden. In Jackson, there's potential there to form another. And if the Browns work hard enough and the Redskins don't, what at first seemed like a longshot may not end up being one. 

For the full conversation about Cousins and the Browns, plus Garafolo's thoughts on Colt McCoy as Redskins starter in 2017, listen to the #RedskinsTalk podcast below. And don't forget to subscribe.