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Need to Know: Did Kirk Cousins over prepare for the Redskins' 2016 season?

Need to Know: Did Kirk Cousins over prepare for the Redskins' 2016 season?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 16, 41 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 29
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 55
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 86

Did Cousins over prepare for 2016?

Kirk Cousins was not as good down the stretch in 2016 as he was in 2015. The numbers don’t lie:

The difference is stark. Last year he broke most of the team’s major single-season passing records and it felt like he accomplished a lot. This year, he broke his own records but given the way he finished it feels more like he compiled empty stats.

The Redskins’ record doesn’t lie, either. They went 4-1 in their last five games on their way to the division title in 2015. Last year they stumbled, going 2-3 and missing out on the playoffs.

Perhaps we now know why Cousins seemed to hit the wall after playing very well for the first 11 games. This is what he said when asked what his focus would be during the six-week break between the end of minicamp and the July 27 start of training camp.

“My focus is to rest and recover and get my mind in a place where come Week 11, 12, 13, I’m fully energized and ready to go,” he said. “I think that’s key. I do believe that last year I remember watching film for the Steelers Week 1 and it hit me that we hadn’t played a game yet, technically. I felt like I had been going a million miles an hour since the previous end of the playoff game against the Packers. I was almost worn out, if you will, before the season started, because I had pushed so hard to be top of my game in OTA one, and training camp practice one, and preseason game one.”

It would be logical to infer that Cousins didn’t believe that he was “fully energized and ready to go” when December rolled around last year. In his first offseason where he was the starter from the very beginning of the cycle, he went at it too hard.

“I think I was treating every day like it was Monday Night Football against the Steelers,” he said. “I think if you do that 365 days a year, there’s a thing called burnout. OK, you might get it year six, you might get it year 10, but eventually, you’re going to burn out. I just realized , OK… It was like Wednesday before the Steelers game, I said literally everything I have done to this point, which I felt like was a lot, means nothing. It has no value of any kind. You know, when the season is over, I will not be measured on any of it. And, so, that hit me like, ‘Now it counts, now I’ve got to be ready, and I’m pretty exhausted.’ So, that’s all I was trying to get at.”

To remedy this, Cousins has decided to take some time off to refresh himself mentally.

“You know, just enjoying the summer, taking time to get away, spending time with family is all positive things,” he said. “Even right now, just spending time, you know, playing golf, enjoying the time off rather than going over the plays 80 times.”

We don’t see what Cousins does when he is not at Redskins Park but there was some tangible evidence of his more relaxed approach during the OTAs and minicamp that were open to the media. Last year he tended to celebrate touchdown passes and even some third-down completions as though they had taken place in the Super Bowl. This year, he let his teammates know he appreciated their efforts in a more subtle manner.

This does not mean that Cousins will completely get away from football for six weeks. He’s looking for some middle ground.

“It’s a balance. Life, you know, in the middle lies virtue,” he said. “It’s never prepare, prepare, prepare like crazy with no rest and it’s never, ‘Hey, I don’t need to prepare. I can just show up.’ Somewhere is I think the healthy medium and that is what I am always trying to find.”

We will start to find out how well his approach works starting in September. But the proof will come in December when the Redskins will need Cousins to help them win down the stretch to stay relevant in the playoff race.

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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Redskins 2017 position outlook: Offensive line

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Offensive line

With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Offensive line

Starters: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses
Other roster locks: Ty Nsekhe, Chase Roullier
On the bubble: Vinston Painter, Arie Kouandjio, Kyle Kalis,

How the offensive line compares:

To the 2016 Redskins: Over the course of 16 games they should be better because Williams is unlikely to get his with another four-game suspension. He may miss a game or two with an injury as he did in 2014 and 2015 but they can manage that. With all five starters returning, they may be only marginally better on a game-to-game basis. Lauvao was hampered by injuries last year and he looks healthier. Long will be going into his second season at center so he could learn more and improve. Still, the improvements will be marginal. They were a top 5-10 unit last year and they should be this year. Marginally better

To the rest of the NFL: As noted, it’s a top 10 unit easily and you could make the case that it’s in the top five. Yes, even though the Redskins were 21st in the league in rushing last year. The thing is, they were eighth in the league with 4.5 yards per rushing attempt. When they ran the ball, they ran it well. And their sack percentage was fourth in the league. They should set aside the "Hogs 2.0" nickname until the accomplish more as a team but they are very good right now.  Top five

RELATED: 2017 REDSKINS--5 REASONS FOR CONCERN

2017 outlook

Biggest upside: Scherff was the fifth pick of the 2015 draft. He nominally was taken as a tackle although many analysts, including some at Redskins Park, figured he would end up as a guard. He is off to a good start in his career, playing nearly every snap over his two seasons and making the Pro Bowl last year. But he can get better and he has the mindset to do it.

Most to prove: Long is injured right now and that has been a minor issue with him since he became a starter. Last year he played well after taking over at center when Kory Lichtensteiger was injured but he still has a lot to learn. His contract is up after this year and if he is going to earn a solid contract from the Redskins or from any other team he must take a couple of steps up and show that he is worth a significant financial investment.

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Rookie watch: With Long sidelined until the season opener, the focus turns to Roullier. Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan have shown extraordinary confidence in the sixth-round pick, not shopping for a veteran backup center after seeing Roullier in the offseason program and in training camp. They have a better idea of what they have in him after he starts against the Bengals’ first-team defense on Sunday.

Bottom line: The offensive line is one of the strengths of the team. Williams and Scherff could go back to the Pro Bowl. Moses won’t but that’s primarily because right tackles don’t get Pro Bowl invitations. They will keep Kirk Cousins upright and on what is likely to continue to be a pass-first team, that is critical. Run blocking could be better but that top-10 average of 4.5 yards per carry last year points to issues in the run game beyond the O-line.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Trent Williams:

I think he’s going to get better. He’s lost a little bit of weight and I think he might even be a vegan, whatever that means. The things that he can do with his body and athleticism is incredible. He’s by far I think the best tackle in the league and we’re glad we have him. But it’s also good to see a guy with that type of talent and skill set work as hard as he does. That rubs off on the younger guys, the guys that are up and coming young players. They see a guy like that with much talent, that much production over the years – and Pro Bowls – work that hard, you know, it makes the other guys say, ‘Hey, I better work harder because I’m not as talented as him.’

2017 Redskins position outlook series: Wide receiver | Defensive line |

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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Report: Odell Beckham could miss regular season games after preseason hit

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USA Today Sports

Report: Odell Beckham could miss regular season games after preseason hit

Odell Beckham Jr. took a hard hit to the leg in Monday night's preseason game against the Browns. Immediately following the play, it seemed Beckham might have sustained a serious knee or lower leg injury, especially as the wide receiver collapsed in pain walking to the locker room

Reports came out that showed Beckham merely sustained an ankle sprain and that X-rays and an MRI revealed no major problems. On Wednesday, however, ESPN reported that the Giants wideout could miss regular season games with the ankle issue. 

From ESPN.com:

It's "not out of the question he could miss a week or two of the regular season," according to one source.

The Giants open their season on September 10th against the Cowboys in Dallas, a key NFC East battle. 

RELATED: JOSH NORMAN BELITTLES DEZ BRYANT AND OBJ

Arguably the most explosive receiver in the NFL, losing Beckham, even for just one game, would be a big blow for Big Blue. New York's offense hasn't scored a touchdown yet this preseason, and Eli Manning and company did not have a particularly good year in 2016 either.

The Giants offense ranked 26th in the NFL in scoring at just 19.4 points-per-game. The Redskins, even with their red zone struggles, ranked 12th at 24.8 PPG.

Despite the Giants offensive struggles, Beckham still produced in 2016. He posted 101 catches for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns over 16 games. It marked the first year of his three season career he was able to suit up for all 16 games.

This offseason, the Giants brass tried to make the offense better, adding veteran receiver Brandon Marshall and taking tight end Evan Engram in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Offensive line remains a significant concern for New York, especially with the 36-year-old Manning behind center. 

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