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Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—Will things start to click for Cousins?

Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—Will things start to click for Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 23, two days before the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice, noon; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay press conferences, player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Ravens 16; Eagles @ Redskins 24

Thoughts from around Redskins Park

—Will things just suddenly click for Kirk Cousins like they seemed to last year? If I had to bet I’d say yes but it’s no sure thing. There is a concern that defenses have figure out what he does well and are taking that away. That makes some sense but it doesn’t account for plays like the overthrow of the pass to Crowder on the first drive or firing a pass right to the safety when he should have thrown it into the stands. It doesn't seem to be anything that can’t be fixed but he needs to hurry up and fix it.

—Will the Redskins be able to run the ball against the Giants? Based on the small sample size so far this year, probably not. David “Snacks” Harrison has done a good job of shoring up the middle of what was a soft defense last year and the Giants have given up just 77 yards per game. For their part, the Redskins have rushed for 68 yards per game, 26th in the NFL. But Washington is seventh in the league in yards per carry at 4.7. Perhaps if they actually try running the ball—they are dead last in the league with 29 attempts—they just might have some success.

—So who starts at nose tackle now that Kedric Golston is out for the season? According to the unofficial depth chart it’s Cullen Jenkins, who is backed up by Ziggy Hood (who is the co-starter at right DE along with Ricky Jean Francois). But they haven’t really started a nose tackle in either of their two games so far. Against both the Cowboys and Steelers they opened in nickel with two defensive linemen. The identity of the starting nose tackle seems to be something of an academic point. According to Jay Gruden, Hood, Jenkins, Chris Baker, Francois, and rookie Matt Ionnidis all can play the nose. But with the Giants being a predominantly passing team they are likely to open in nickel again.

—It doesn’t look like there are any personnel changes in the secondary on tap for Sunday. The word around Redskins Park is that David Bruton will remain the starting strong safety and Dashaun Phillips is going to stay at nickel cornerback. It’s tough to draw the line where you stop giving a guy a chance to get his feet under him and when you just have to move on a try somebody else. At 0-2 the Redskins are close to that line but they don’t think that they are there yet.

—It will be interesting to see if Josh Doctson continues to get more snaps. He played 12 against the Steelers, many of them in garbage time after the outcome was decided, and then 19 against the Cowboys in a game where every snap was meaningful. And as Doctson’s playing time goes up, whose will go down? It could be Pierre Garçon, although his snaps increased from 40 to 49 from the first game to the second. But between Garçon and Jackson the former seems to be the least likely to return and if they are going to start getting the receiving corps ready for next year they might as well start now.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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