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Need to Know: A brawl, position changes and departures highlight the Redskins' week

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Need to Know: A brawl, position changes and departures highlight the Redskins' week

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 10, three days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns in Cleveland.

The week that was

RICHMOND—The Redskins are back here today for a couple of days of practice before they travel to Cleveland on Wednesday. Here is a look back at what happened in the past week and my reaction to it.

'It escalated very quickly'—It appears that the Texans were looking to start something to retaliate for Matt Jones mowing over one of their defensive backs on Friday. There is always a fine line on how much contact there should be in these joint practices and perhaps Jones crossed it. I’m not sure if a brawl involving over 150 players spread over two fields is exactly revenge but if the Texans are happy, that’s OK. It’s a good thing nobody got injured.

Scherff, Moses moves shuffle O-line depth chartIt looks like Brandon Scherff will start his NFL career as a guard. Although you never know what will happen it is likely that he will stay there. I’m not sure if the Redskins should be criticized more for using the fifth overall pick in the draft on a guard, a position of relatively low value, or if they should get credit for not waiting to make the move of Scherff to right guard and Morgan Moses into the right tackle spot. A little of both, probably.

Redskins waive Phillip Thomas—The Redskins aren’t exactly set at safety but they decided to move on without Thomas, their fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft. The organization thought he would develop into a starter but he missed his rookie year with a foot injury and when injuries created an opportunity for him to start last year he looked lost.

Colts claim Tevin Mitchel off waivers—The sixth-round pick suffered a shoulder injury that was going to put him out for the season. In order to get him onto injured reserve, the Redskins had to pass him through waivers, normally a routine procedure. But the Colts decided to claim him. Mitchel will now spend the season on the Indianapolis IR list and try to make the Colts team next year. It wasn’t much of a gamble since injured players are rarely claimed but Washington ended up losing a sixth-round pick.

Redskins add two to secondary, including former Virginia CBThomas was waived to help make room for cornerbacks Bryan McCann, a veteran with stints on five different NFL teams, and rookie free agent DreQuan Hoskey. The Redskins’ top four cornerbacks were nicked up and unable to practice and Mitchel was gone so they brought in some warm bodies to get through practice. But they will get a chance to make it.

DeSean Jackson leaves practice early with apparent shoulder injuryJackson didn’t last long in the joint practices. Early in Wednesday’s first session he went to the ground while trying to catch a pass and ended up with a sprained AC joint. The injury is not major and should only keep him out a couple of weeks. He did not, as some said, injure himself on a blocking sled that was near by. When Jackson fell he slid and wound up bumping the sled. By the time he made contact with the sled, the damage to his shoulder had already been done.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:35; Jay Gruden news conference 2:45; practice 3:05

—It’s been 225 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 34 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 3; final cuts 26; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 45

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In case you missed it

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!