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Crawford injury has ripple effects for Redskins

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Crawford injury has ripple effects for Redskins

Occasionally, roster numbers problems have a way of working themselves out. And the solution sometimes comes in the worst possible way.

Before Saturday’s game against the Bills, the Redskins were pondering how they might be able to keep six cornerbacks on their 53-man roster. Now, with cornerback and punt returner Richard Crawford out for the year with a knee injury the Redskins don’t have that issue any more.

DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are the starters and free agent pickup E. J. Biggers is the only other corner on the roster with any NFL playing experience. David Amerson was the team’s top draft pick and Chase Minnifield has proven to be a keeper. It’s difficult to fit more than five cornerbacks on the roster and about the only good side of the Crawford injury was that it alleviated the numbers crunch at corner.

Crawford still has some work to do to be a solid NFL corner, even as a reserve, but he was set to be the Redskins’ punt returner so he was locked in to a roster spot based on that. They were going to have to decide if they were going to keep the six corners or perhaps try to sneak Minnifield on the practice squad at the risk of losing him on waivers. Now they can keep Minnifield on the 53 as the fifth corner and let him develop there.

But the need for a punt returner might force a numbers crunch on the other side of the ball. The leading candidate to replace Crawford as the punt returner is running back Chris Thompson. He showed his return skills with a nifty 31-yard runback against the Bills on Saturday.

But Thompson also fumbled on a run from scrimmage against Buffalo, the second time he’s put the ball on the ground in the last two games. At running back Alfred Morris is the starter and Roy Helu Jr. has earned a spot as his primary backup and change of pace back.

Will the Redskins leave the job of the third back in the hands of the inexperienced Thompson, figuring that he will only have to play if there is a dire emergency? Or will they keep an experienced fourth back like Evan Royster or Keiland Williams in case that emergency does pop up?

If they do that, there would be another numbers issue created. With four running backs it becomes very difficult to keep six wide receivers or nine offensive linemen.

So the ripple effects of Crawford’s injury make some decisions easier on defense but perhaps more difficult on offense. The decisions will be made soon. Like the rest of the NFL the Redskins will need to have their roster cut down to 75 players by Tuesday at 4 p.m. and down to 53 by Saturday at 6 p.m.

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Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

Jordan Reed one of four Redskins to begin training camp on PUP list

RICHMOND - Jordan Reed will start Redskins training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. 

The team's PR informed the media that Reed is experiencing pain and soreness in one of his big toes. The move to PUP was characterized as precautionary and they want to ensure that issues don't linger into the regular season. 

DeAngelo Hall, Houston Bates, and practice squadder Kendal Thompson will join Reed on the PUP list. 

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER

For Reed, an integral part of the Redskins offense, there is a long history of injuries. In 2016, he missed time with a separated shoulder and a concussion.

Before Redskins fans freak out, remember Reed took part in minicamp and looked dominant. The PUP list also allows the Redskins to activate Reed once he's capable of practicing. 

Reed did not take part in voluntary OTAs with the Redskins in May, but was a full participant with the team at June's minicamp. 

Asked about injured players taking part in practice during Wednesday's press conference, head coach Jay Gruden opened up:

I think the injured guys are injured guys. We’re never going to change how we treat them. It’s the trainers’ job to tell us when they can go. I’m not going to keep a guy out of practice just because I think he might be injured. It’s up to the trainers and up to that player to let me know whether they can go or not. But like you said, we do have a luxury of having 88 or 87 healthy bodies where we can practice and function without somebody who is injured. That’s the trainers’ job​.

Expect much more on this development.

UPDATE:

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Expectations won't change for Kirk Cousins, regardless of contract status

Expectations won't change for Kirk Cousins, regardless of contract status

RICHMOND - Jay Gruden expects the same effort and production from Kirk Cousins, regardless of the now two-year long contract saga between the quarterback and the Redskins.

"The thing about Kirk is you’re never worried about his preparation. It’s not going to vary from day in to day out," the coach said. "He’s not going to come in and be a different guy every day. He’s the same guy every day. [He’s] a great competitor, wants to get better."

Talks between Cousins' represenatives and the Redskins seemed more congenial this offseason, though the result remained the same. Cousins will be paid $24 million this year on the franchise tag, after making $20 million in 2016 on the same tag. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Redskins team president Bruce Allen explained in a statment that his organization made an offer to Cousins that included $53 million guaranteed. Considering the funny money nature of NFL deals, the offer really only guaranteed another season at about $28 million for Cousins before a series of advantageous terms for the franchise. The deal had no chance of completion considering Cousins' leverage.

Still, Gruden thinks his quarterback will deliver. 

"He has a lot of room for improvement and he wants to be coached and it’s fun to coach him."

If Gruden sounds confident in Cousins' ability to compartmentalize, he should. The quarterback did just that last season, passing for nearly 5,000 yards with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. 

The Redskins, and Cousins, struggled in the red zone in 2016, and that's something Gruden wants to see improved. 

"The contract status will take care of itself eventually, hopefully, but right now it is what it is and we’re happy to have him for 2017."

Long-term deal, or not, it's time for Gruden to coach and Cousins to quarterback.

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