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For starters, first team offense will play

For starters, first team offense will play

As you probably have read, Jim Zorn has decided to play the offensive starters for a series or two tonight in the Washington Redskins' preseason finale.

The players, by all reports, are all in favor of getting out there to play the kinks out of their game, even if they will be facing the Jags' second-team defense. Even Clinton Portis, who regards preseason game with great distain, showed a willingness to go out there (although not a great degree of enthusiasm.

"Being that I have to play, and it's not my choice," Portis said, "I can't do nothing but be excited about it."

Zorn's has created a minor stir out there. Mosley on the ESPN blog thinks it's a major mistake, but for the wrong reason. He thinks that Zorn is playing his first team for around a dozen plays in an effort to win the game. Of course, that's ridiculous. Zorn is playing the starters because they stunk up Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte last Saturday and what was supposed to be their final tuneup turned out to be a confidence-killing cluster, uh, bomb.

I'm not quite sure where the "tradition" of having your team's final tuneup come two weeks before the first game originated. It really doesn't make any sense when you think about it. Why get the machine running just right facing live action and then shut it down for two weeks?

In any case, those guys need to get back out there and run something resembling an NFL offense. Yes, there is a small risk of sustaining an injury to a starter during those 12 plays, but it's small enough to make it worth the risk.

I like the fact that Zorn doesn't feel bound by this "tradition".

A few other notes about tonight's game:

  • Cornerback Byron Westbrook has been a longshot to make the team all along. The odds against him are now even longer. He sat at my table at the Redskins Welcome Home Luncheon yesterday and he told me that he suffered a high ankle sprain against the Panthers and that he's unlikely to play against Jacksonville.
  • With the release of Matt Sinclair, the chances of linebacker Alfred Fincher making the team as a reserve linebacker increased greatly. However, he'll still have to prove himself tonight. The Skins could scan the waiver wire and pick up a veteran reserve if they're not wild about what they see from Fincher tonight.
  • Fincher should get plenty of action as the defensive starters are not expected to take the field. All this for $100 and more a ticket.
  • The punt-off between Derrick Frost and Durant Brooks will come down to tonight as the two will alternate kicks. It says here that a tie goes to Frost as Shaun Suisham seems to prefer the veteran as his holder.
  • Don't forget to join in on the blog tonight, live from FedEx Field. You'll have a chance to participate in the beta of the Virtual Locker Room, which will give you a chance to ask questions of the players and of Jim Zorn after the game.

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Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 19, 98 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 42
NFL free agency starts 50
First Sunday of 2017 season 235

The coordinator search and more

As noted above, we have 42 days until the deadline for the Redskins to put the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The immediate future of the franchise is contingent this situation being handled correctly by the organization. It’s time to turn the attention and the $100 in imaginary casino chips towards what might happen with Cousins as the process unfold. We will revisit this from time to time as the various deadlines approach so consider this the early odds.

Sign before the tag deadline, $5—This seems unlikely after his rather cold response to my question immediately following the season-ending loss to the Giants when he said, “The ball’s not in my court.” He indicated that it’s up to the Redskins to tag him. It doesn’t look like he and his agent will have much of an inclination to sit down to any serious negotiations before that happens.

Let him go into free agency, $5—Yes, I know that this is out there but it makes no sense to take the chance of the possibility that he could walk with zero compensation. While there might be some logic in finding out what Cousins would be worth in a true free market in order to establish the basis for a fair contract the risk of behind left empty-handed is just too great.

Tag and trade, $20—This also has been discussed by various media types as a possibility. It would involve giving Cousins the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would let him go out and negotiate a deal with another team. The Redskins could then match that offer or choose to get compensation. The CBA calls for compensation of two first-round picks although the two teams may negotiate something less. The most frequently suggested trade partner is the 49ers and their soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan but there are probably around half a dozen teams, maybe more, who could be interested. If the Redskins don’t think they will ever sign Cousins long term this could be the way to go.

Tag and sign by July 15 deadline, $30—This may be a little low for this possibility. Perhaps if the other options are off the table he will consider that he is a perfect match for Jay Gruden’s offense and that he might not be such a good fit elsewhere. There also is the possibility of injury or, for whatever reason, Cousins having a subpar season. Those thoughts could spur him to instruct his agent to get the best deal he can get in Washington.

Tag and play the season on the tag, $40—Right now, this appears to be the mostly likely scenario. They can afford the $24 million cap hit and it would get them one more year of his services. However, the prospects for him remaining in a Redskins uniform for 2018 and beyond would be very cloudy.

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In case you missed it

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

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3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend

3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend

Ryan Kerrigan, Jordan Reed and Brandon Scherff will skip next week's Pro Bowl in Orlando a team spokesman confirmed to CSN. All three players dealt with injuries late in the season, most notably Reed, and playing in the exhibition game is not in the cards. Trent Williams, however, is still slated to play in the game. 

Reed suffered a separated shoulder on Thanksgiving playing against the Dallas Cowboys. For the rest of the season, Reed played through significant pain and his production dipped.

Kerrigan played much of the season with an injured elbow and hurt his finger in the final game against the Giants. Scherff played with ankle pain and was listed on the injury report much of the season's final four games.

For Reed and Scherff, this year marked their first Pro Bowl. The recognition was deserved for both players, and shows that the guard and tight end are gaining national spotlight for their play.

Kerrigan played in the Pro Bowl following the 2012 season. He finished this year with 11 sacks, 2.5 short os his career high 13.5 in 2014. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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