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Need to Know: Can Morris thrive behind Redskins' power blocking?

Need to Know: Can Morris thrive behind Redskins' power blocking?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 17, 13 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

Here are five thoughts on the state of the Redskins with less than two weeks to go until training camp starts.

—I mentioned DeAngelo Hall’s situation in a post yesterday but I though I’d bring up again here to expand on it a bit. Chris Culliver is the top cornerback. Bashaud Breeland is somewhere in the top three and it’s likely that David Amerson is as well. So that leaves Hall as the fourth cornerback. The problem with that is that he is slated to collect a $4 million salary this year. That’s a crazy amount to pay your fourth CB; it doesn’t even make much sense if he’s the third. Add to that the fact that he’s coming off of a double Achilles tear. If he steps on the practice field with that contract and gets reinjured, the Redskins are on the hook for the entire $4 million. We may not see him on the field in Richmond with that same contract still in place.

—The season can’t start soon enough. Why is a conversation that took place two and a half years ago between a fired coach and the current quarterback even remotely interesting to anybody at this point? Yes, I realize that the topic came up in a Robert Griffin III Q&A on the team produced Redskins Nation show. Regardless, the fact that Griffin and Mike Shanahan had very different versions of the same meeting is not exactly surprising. It’s a dynamic that is duplicated in workplaces thousands of times a day. There’s a disagreement and the two principals tell others vastly different versions of how it went down. One person’s contentious argument is the other’s frank and open discussion. Yawn. All that matters is what Griffin does starting in two weeks.

—One of the more under discussed storylines going into the year is how Alfred Morris will perform running behind power blocking. I’ve been reading some evaluations of him that say he’s by far at his best running behind zone blocking. The one-cut style suits him best. Morris didn’t run very well when the Redskins did use power blocking last year, but it’s not like the line gave him any gaping holes that he missed. Now you have a line that is being retooled to an emphasis on the power scheme. How will Morris do quickly hitting the hole? I tend to think he’ll be OK but I can’t dismiss the skeptics until I see it.

—Yesterday morning I saw the wall-to-wall coverage that the NFL Network and ESPN were giving to the Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas contract situations and I was close to tweeting that it was a massive waste of time. I saw very little chance that either would sign a long-term deal. Glad I didn’t hit send on that tweet. Both got deals done within just a couple of hours of the deadline. It was a perfect illustration of the saying that deadlines drive deals.

—I get asked about extensions for Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams all the time. One of the problems in getting these deals done is that there is no deadline; neither player becomes a free agent until March 15, 2016. Until there’s a deadline, the team can focus on what might happen if the player signs a big extension and gets injured or if his level of play declines. The player’s side can worry about signing a deal and then immediately becoming underpaid by having a big season right after signing. As the deadline approaches, those thoughts go away and the consequences of not getting a deal done move come into focus. That pushes the deal to completion. Some deals do get done without a dealing but they tend to be few and far between.

Timeline

—It’s been 201 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 58 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 13; Preseason opener @ Browns 27; final cuts 50

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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