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Need to Know: Broncos' WR Welker, TE Thomas big concerns for Redskins

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Need to Know: Broncos' WR Welker, TE Thomas big concerns for Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 23, four days before the Washington Redskins travel to Denver to play the Broncos.

Nickel coverage

Five things you need to know about the Redskins-Broncos matchup:

1. The Redskins defense is geared to stop the run and that won’t change against the Peyton Manning led Broncos. Denver is 16th in the league in rushing offense averaging 108 yards per game. They have rushed for over 100 yards as a team in five of their seven games. The two times they failed to reach 100 on the ground were their opener against the Ravens, a 49-27 win, and their last game, a 39-33 loss to the Colts.

2. Wes Welker is death by a thousand paper cuts. He isn’t going to make the big play on you—he averages 10.8 yards per catch and his long reception this year is just 33 yards. DeAngelo Hall covered Welker when he was with the Patriots so he will probably draw that assignment again. It will be an interesting battle, especially on third down.

3. Welker is a big concern but I think the guy with the capability to drive the Redskins crazy is tight end Julius Thomas. The 2011 fourth-round pick is tied with Welker for the team lead (and the NFL lead) in touchdown receptions with eight. It seems like every time I see the Broncos he’s making a key catch. Tight ends haven’t really killed the Redskins so far this year but then again they haven’t faced many really good ones. Thomas, I think, is one of the good ones.

4. Denver does have a defense but it’s hard to gauge how good it really is. The numbers get skewed when teams are forced into shootouts. They are last in the league in passing yards allowed but only two teams get thrown against more often. Still, they are allowing 8.2 yards per attempt, 28th in the league. You’d expect the rushing yards against them to be low due to teams passing so often and they are with the Broncos ranking fourth in the league. But they are second in the NFL in yards per attempt at 3.3 so they’re doing a good job of defending the few runs that are called against them.

5. It’s tough to write much about Manning that hasn’t already been written. He gets flack, some of it fair, some of it not, for his lack of postseason success. But that doesn’t matter right now given that it’s October, not January. The Redskins will have their hands full with him on Sunday.

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Stat of the day

—  The 134 receiving yards post by Jordan Reed were 25 more than Chris Cooley’s career high of 109.

Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Broncos 4; Chargers @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Vikings 15

—Today’s schedule: Player availability 11:15; Practice 1:00 (media can observe for first 30 minutes); Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan news conferences after practices after practice (approx. 3:15) streamed live on CSNwashington.com                   

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Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 26, one day before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 206 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 46 days.

Today’s schedule: Players report to training camp for physicals and conditioning test. Jay Gruden news conference 2 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 15
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 24
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 38

Five pre-camp questions for Jay Gruden

RICHMOND—The media portion of training camp gets underway on Wednesday as Jay Gruden holds his pre-camp presser at 2 pm at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center (that’s probably the last time I’ll use the full name of the facility).

Here are some questions we will ask of Gruden as he enters his fourth season as the Redskins head coach.

Will Kirk Cousins’ contract situation be a distraction? This must be asked, even though we know that the answer will be no. Yes, Cousins handled a similar situation just fine last year. But a quarterback playing on a second franchise tag is unprecedented. Certainly, Gruden has to guard against things getting out of hand if the season starts to turn sour.

In his fourth training camp, what is he doing now that he wishes he would have done in 2014? One very visible change has been a reduction in the amount of contact that takes place on the field. Will this continue to decline or, give the issues the team had tackling last year, will it ramp up? What used to be the morning practice and afternoon walkthrough were flipped a couple of years ago. Has there been any thought to changing it back?

How has the adjustment process to having so many new coaches gone so far? The Redskins have new coordinators on both sides of the ball and several new position coaches. As happens when any group of co-workers gets added to a workplace, there is an adjustment period. In the NFL, the coaches have to get up to speed with each other in a hurry.

Will Gruden use the season-ending loss to the Giants as a motivational/learning tool or just bury it in the past? It’s a fine line between learning from past mistakes and dwelling on them. While Cousin should make sure that he doesn’t throw another late-game interception like the one he threw in that game, he can’t have it spook him to the point where he can’t pull the trigger on a pass late in a close game. How Gruden handles the 2016 finale could have a major effect on how 2017 unfolds.

After having one of the highest pass ratios in the league, will Gruden look to run the ball more often? Last year, Sean McVay called passes on 62.4 percent of the Redskins’ snaps. The Redskins drafted a fourth-round running back in Samaje Perine and they may team him with starter Rob Kelley and call to keep the ball on the ground a few more times per game.

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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Is Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL? One analyst says so

Is Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL? One analyst says so

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports declared Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL. Prisco repeatedly points out that while Cousins is a good quarterback, the notion that he should be paid like one of the best passers in the league is what makes him overrated.

From Prisco:

After having six 300-yard-plus passing games in his first 11 games, including two over 400, Cousins had one in the final five games last season as the Redskins pushed for a playoff spot. He had five touchdown passes and five interceptions in those games, going 2-3 as Washington folded. It wasn't all on him, but that's the point. I don't think he's a quarterback who rises above situations when the team isn't going right. I am not going to sit here and pan him as a starter. He has proven to be that, and a pretty good one. It's just that the perception is he's much better than that, which is why he's my most overrated player in the NFL in 2017.

Here's the problem with Prisco's login: Simple market economics. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

An argument can be made Cousins is a Top 10 passer. He's certainly in the top half of the league at the position. Few, if any, would argue Cousins is a Top 5 quarterback, but his contract situation forces him to be paid like he is. Those are the exact terms of the franchise tag, even before the 20 percent increase Washington paid this season to use a second-straight tag.  

Since the Redskins lost their window to sign their single-season passing yards record holder to a team-friendly deal last year, Cousins has leverage and the advantage of inflated QB salaries on his side.

That doesn't mean Cousins is overrated. 

If the threshold for being overrated is money, then Brock Osweiler wins this thing in a landslide. After the 2016 season in Houston, Osweiler seems unlikely to ever again be considered a starting QB in the NFL. He's due to be paid $18 million this fall and his offseason trade to the Browns will go down as the first-ever salary dump in NFL history. 

Is Cousins overpaid? Probably. That's the way contracts work in pro football. 

Is Cousins overrated? Probably not. He's thrown for more than 9,000 yards and completed about 68 percent of his passes over the last two seasons. 

There just aren't enough quarterbacks to go around in the NFL, and guys who can play the position get paid handsomely. That doesn't make Cousins overrated. 

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