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Jay Gruden expects leadership from Kirk Cousins 'no matter what his contract status is'

Jay Gruden expects leadership from Kirk Cousins 'no matter what his contract status is'

Much like a middle school dance, the Redskins are stuck in an awkward phase with their courting of Kirk Cousins. Clearly, the team likes their passer, enough to pay him nearly $20 million last season and another $24 million this year. Yet, the team can't seem to agree on a price to keep Cousins around for the long-term. 

That leads to some interesting discussions. Earlier this offseason Cousins brought up that not only could his play improve with a multi-year contract, but his leadership as well. 

That is the benefit to the long-term deal. It’s okay, I’m the guy. I’ve got full freedom to lead, full freedom to just be the guy, to make this mine, and to get that permission, if you will. That’s where I think the leash comes off and you’re able to fully go, and I’m excited for that day to come, whether it comes this year or down the road. I can’t wait.

At the NFL League Meetings in Phoenix earlier this week, Washington head coach Jay Gruden was asked if a long-term contract would help Cousins. 

I think being a quarterback in the National Football League you should be a leader and feel good no matter what his contract status is. I think having a long-term contract maybe helps a little bit but I think when we get out on the field on the first game Sunday afternoon, people are going to look to him for leadership. He is going to provide it whether it's a one-year deal or a 10-year deal. I know he is going to play his butt off, compete, prepare and do all the things necessary whatever link the contract is and we are excited to coach him.

Gruden continued, explaining that though Cousins does not have the security of a long-term deal, he is taking home a lot of cash. 

I don't know how difficult it is really, he is making a lot of money and he is doing a nice job. He is having fun, the players love him, respect him and rally around him. The business side of it with the agent and our people is what it is and its thats way with a lot of guys. We are going to have a number of guys with one year contracts and I fully expect them coming in and working their tails off and doing everything right to try and win a championship. That is what it's all about and at the end of the year we will come back to our negotiating table and try to get something done. Ideally you would like everyone to be on their long term contracts but that is obviously not possible.

Fans should know that Cousins is not the type of player to allow his contract situation to create a disctraction. While some players would buck at the first franchise tag, Cousins has signed both tags in 2016 and 2017 without hardly a peep of consternation. His work ethic also cannot be questioned, as the 'Skins passer is already working out with new wideouts Terrelle Pryor and second-year man Josh Doctson along with slot star Jamison Crowder on his own dime and time in Florida. Cousins is not the type to miss any optional workouts or camps, whether or not others in his situation might try to send a message to their team. 

Leadership is an innate quality, important for quarterbacks. It can't be bought. Cousins has it. He showed it in 2015 when he made about $600,000. He will show it again in 2017, whether that's on the franchise tag or if the two parties can work out a long-term deal. 

A long-term deal might allow Cousins to feel more secure in his future in Washington, but on the field, in the film room, or in the locker room, Gruden expects to see no change from his quarterback. 

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Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

The Redskins had a tough, physical game against the Rams last Sunday and it shows on the team’s injury report. Five players are listed as questionable for the coming game against the Raiders at FedEx Field.

TE Jordan Reed (chest), RB Rob Kelley (ribs), ILB Mason Foster (shoulder), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), and CB Josh Norman (shoulder) are the players who are questionable.

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Of those players, Reed was the only one to miss a practice this week. He was out on Wednesday and was back on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday. The Pro Bowl tight end told reporters in the locker room that he will be in the lineup on Sunday.

There is particular concern about Kelley’s injury. He is likely to start as he usually does. But CSN is reporting that the team will have four running backs on the game day active list instead of the three they went with in Weeks 1 and 2. Mack Brown will dress for the Redskins after being inactive in both previous games.

MORE REDSKINS: A STRONG START FOR SMITH BUT MORE IS NEEDED

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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Pierre Garcon was fantastic vs. the Rams, but don't lament his departure just yet

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USA TODAY Sports

Pierre Garcon was fantastic vs. the Rams, but don't lament his departure just yet

Thursday night's Rams-49ers game was surprisingly fun. It was also unofficially the Check Out All These Ex-Redskins Now Playing or Working in California Bowl.

Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, two former Washington offensive coordinators, are now in charge of the two teams. Old 'Skins like Aldrick Robinson, Derek Carrier and John Sullivan, meanwhile, were a part of the on-field action.

It was Pierre Garçon, though, who pushed Burgundy and Gold fans to take their phones out of their pocket and pen sad tweets. That's because the 31-year-old wideout caught seven Brian Hoyer passes (that's impressive on its own, by the way) for 142 yards vs. Los Angeles on Thursday Night Football.

And while his team lost 41-39, Garçon didn't deserve to with plays like this:

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Even with that standout performance, however, Redskins fans shouldn't be cursing the franchise for letting Garçon go. Not yet, anyway.

This past march, the veteran left D.C. after five seasons to sign with San Fran. His deal was a rich one: five years for $47.5 million ($17 million guaranteed at signing). The Niners can get out of it after two years, but it still is a sizable contract even with that potential exit.

That kind of money is the first thing those who miss Garçon should think about. Now, the Redskins didn't exactly handle their negotiations with him that smoothly, but in the end, unless he gave Washington a nice discount, he just would've cost a lot to keep.

Secondly, it's easy to slam the 'Skins for losing Garçon while Kirk Cousins and Co. have stalled through two games in 2017. But the reason that's happening thus far has more to do with Cousins' inaccuracy in Weeks 1 and 2 and an offensive line that's not at the level it should be than with that familiar No. 88 not lining up outside anymore.

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Would Garçon have made a difference for the Redskins against the Eagles and Rams if he were still here? Yeah, probably. But when Jay Gruden's unit starts operating at its normal speed and precision — and it will — the upset voices lamenting Garçon's departure will get quieter.

This is nothing against the guy who was the NFL's 2013 receptions leader and who's well on his way to another productive campaign. It's just that it feels premature to make the connection that allowing him to move on is what's ailing the Washington offense, or that it was a disastrous decision. 

Give Garçon's far cheaper replacements (Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson) more time. Wait for the quarterback and his linemen to sync up again. In a league with just 16 games, that's very hard to do, but let's see if those in the area long for Garçon in December as much as they are currently longing for him in September.