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Need to Know: Can the Redskins' Cousins become a top-5 quarterback?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins' Cousins become a top-5 quarterback?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 27, 32 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 77 days ago. It will be about 168 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 22; 2016 NFL draft 32; Redskins training camp starts 123

Hot topic

On Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings Jay Gruden talked about the pressure that Kirk Cousins is under now that he’s the starting quarterback playing under the franchise tag. “Now all of a sudden when as you’re trying to establish yourself as one of the top five guys in the NFL, now you have a little bit more pressure on yourself to perform and he knows that,” said Gruden.

The “top 5” part drew some attention. That seems to be a rather ambitious goal for a player who was a fourth-round pick and who a year ago was supposed to play out the final year of his rookie contract and then enter an uncertain future as an NFL journeyman. But things change quickly. With Cousins now getting paid nearly $20 million this year under the franchise tag expectations, as outlined by Gruden, have grown exponentially.

Can Cousins be a top five quarterback? He was fifth in passer rating last year and sixth in DVOA but such designations go beyond one-season numbers. When you talk about getting it done year after year and experiencing success in the playoffs, the top guys are Brady, Brees, and Rodgers followed by Wilson, Roethlisberger, and Eli Manning. Then there are others, such as Rivers, Newton, Palmer, and Ryan, who have put up a multiple very good statistical seasons but have had limited playoff success.

So that fills out the top 10 and we haven’t even talked about some other pretty good ones like Dalton and Flacco and other young payers who will be trying to move into the top five like Winston, Carr, and Mariota.

Right now, when you’re talking about career achievement, you have to put Cousins somewhere between 10 and 15, maybe a touch lower depending on how you want to rank quarterbacks like Cutler and Alex Smith. He has a very tall mountain to climb to even move into the top 10. Unless Scot McCloughan can get a Super Bowl caliber roster together and keep the group together for a few years, the top five may be an unreachable star for Cousins.

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Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins went into today’s game against the Cardinals somewhat banged up and they exit with a couple of additional injury concerns in the form of concussions.

Center Spencer Long left the game in the second quarter. Initially it was announced that he had been evaluated for a concussion but that he had been cleared. But after halftime the word came down that he had been retested and it was determined that he does have a concussion. Long has entered the concussion protocol.

Veteran John Sullivan, picked up earlier this season when Kory Lichtensteiger went on injured reserve, filled in a center the rest of the way. He is a capable fill-in but if Long is out he would be the only available center. The Redskins might have to sign a center if it looks like Long will be out of action against the Eagles.

In the fourth quarter safety Will Blackmon left the game. According to Redskins coach Jay Gruden he was being evaluated for a concussion and a stinger. His exact status is unknown. Gruden will give more information during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

[MORE: JOSH NORMAN ON HIS CRUCIAL FOURTH-QUARTER PENALTY]

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Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins had a couple of chances to stop what would eventually turn into the Cardinals’ game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter. The first one came when they went for it on fourth and one at their own 34. It was a gutsy call by Arizona coach Bruce Arians and David Johnson make him look smart by popping off a 14-yard run.

The Cards earned that one. But it looked as though they got something of a gift a few plays later when Josh Norman was flagged holding receiver Larry Fitzgerald. It was a borderline call, granting Arizona a gift third and five conversion. Two plays later Carson Palmer went in for the kill, throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson.

On the field, Norman seemed to be none too pleased with the penalty flag. He said after the game that he thinks that Fitzgerald may have stolen a flag.

“He [Fitzgerald] was within five yards. Larry is a wily vet,” said Norman. “I'd been doing it all game, kind of . . . He breaks out and I go for the ball and the flag got thrown. We'd like to see that not happen in that situation because there was some good position, some good leverage. And a flag came out.

“It is what it is. You can't blame a call on that, blame a call on this. It's whatever, man.”

Norman is right. The Redskins blew plenty of chances to take control of the game and the blame can be spread around on both sides of the ball. But the flag will loom large as the Redskins try to shake off this loss and get ready for the Eagles next week.

[MORE: ANGRY JAY GRUDEN SAYS REDSKINS 'NOT EVEN CLOSE' TO THINKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS]