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Need to Know: Can the Redskins get their running game going vs. the Jets?

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Need to Know: Can the Redskins get their running game going vs. the Jets?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 14, four days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Jets

—The Redskins may have a shot at getting their running game going against the Jets. New York is giving up an average of 3.8 yards per carry, 11th in the NFL. That’s someone surprising since they have a pretty solid group of linebackers along with a defensive front featuring Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson (just back from suspension), and Leonard Williams, the player the Redskins bypassed to draft Brandon Scherff. The two could be lined up against each other on occasion, a matchup to watch.

—The Redskins are going to have to be on their toes defending the run. Chris Ivory could go all Devonta Freeman on them. He is one of three backs in the league who are averaging over 100 yards per game (he’s played in 3 as the Jets are coming off of their bye and he was out for their Week 3 game against the Eagles with a quad injury). The Redskins were doing a pretty good job of stopping the run prior to the Atlanta game and they need to hope that that performance was just a blip and not a trend.

—Will DeSean Jackson play? As each week since his injury passes the chances have gone up from “no way” to “slight chance” to “possibly”, which is where we are right now. He practiced very little last week, just taking part in some of the individual drills. It would take quite a ramping up for him to be ready to go on Sunday. They will need every weapon they can get to go up against the Jets, who give up just 5.3 yards per pass play.

—Kirk Cousins’ counterpart in this game, Ryan Fitzpatrick, also has had a case of being bitten by the turnover bug. Like Cousins, he has thrown six interceptions but he has done it playing one game fewer than Cousins and in 40 fewer pass attempts. Points could be hard to come by and it would help if the Redskins defense could create a few short fields for Cousins and the Redskins offense to work with.

—The Jets are 3-1 despite Fitzpatrick’s interceptions in part because they can take the ball away. They are tied for second in the league with a turnover margin of plus-6. The Jets have 13 takeaways (remember, they’ve played just four games) including recovering a remarkable seven of eight opponent fumbles. That luck will end sometime but there is nothing that says that it has to end this Sunday. Ball security will be at a premium this week.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30.

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 4; Bucs @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Patriots 25

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Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

For the second straight season the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. While the two sides are speaking amicably about a long-term deal, the July 15 deadline for those negotiations continues to inch closer without much expectation that contract will get signed. 

A second year on the tag is unprecedented for a quarterback. In 2016, Cousins made nearly $20 million playing on the tag. In 2017, that figure goes up to $24.

If the Redskins don't get a deal done with Cousins, many think the organization would not again go with the franchise tag because the price tag jumps to an exorbitant $34 million. 

Think again. 

Asked on Monday if another franchise tag would be an option for Cousins in 2018, Redskins team president Bruce Allen was clear.

"Yes," he said. "In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract."

Those options include the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. Both franchise tags carry the same cost, but the non-exclusive allows Cousins' representatives to shop his services around the NFL. If a deal gets struck, and the Redskins don't match the contract, Washington is due two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing their franchise player. 

The transition tag carries a $28 million price tag, and the Redskins can match another contract but risk only receiving a possible 2019 third-round compensatory pick if Cousins walks.

Considering those options, another year on the non-exclusive tag might make sense. The NFL salary cap will be at least $168 million, which means Cousins at $34 million would account for about 20 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.

That's a crazy allotment for one player. Crazy. The Redskins do have about $54 million in cap space for 2018, so technically, another franchise tag could work. 

But the entire manner of the contract dealings with Cousins and the Redskins has been quite unconventional. The Redskins have already made history by franchising Cousins a second-straight year. 

"I think even Kirk said it, there’s a lot of players round the league who are on a one-year deal. It’s the nature of it, we’d like to get him a long-term deal and I think he should want to get one," Allen said. "Kirk’s played well on a one-year contract the last two seasons."

At this point, it doesn't require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand that the Redskins and Cousins have a different picture of the quarterback's long-term value. That could change by July 15th, it could, but it doesn't seem likely. The Cousins camp has little incentive to bend, as $24 million fully guaranteed for 2017 represents a great payday.

And maybe the Redskins don't plan on bending because the option of a third-straight franchise tag doesn't worry them. Or at least the option of letting Cousins shop his services on a non-exclusive tag, and then making a decision to match a deal or receive compensation seems a worthwhile endevaor. 

For Cousins, he's not counting out any possibility. 

"People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row," Cousins said to an ESPN podcast in March. 

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Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

The Redskins’ offseason starts to move into high gear today as organized team activities, better known as OTAs, get underway at Redskins Park.

Players have been participating in workouts at Redskins Park since April 17. The first phase of those session consisted of strength and conditioning. In the second phase, they were permitted to run plays but not with the offense lined up against the defense. Finally, in OTAs, they will go offense vs. defense.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

The practices, however, will not resemble an August scrimmage in Richmond. The players wear helmets but no pads and contact is not permitted. While players do block other players and there are collisions between players going after passes, the action is more like pushing and shoving that it is hitting.  

The part about no contact should be taken seriously. Seattle ran afoul of the no-contact rule last year and it cost them. The Seahawks were fined $400,000, lost their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and they will not be permitted to hold their first week of OTAs this year. The Redskins will be very careful to keep within the rules.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule 

OTAs will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each of the next three weeks. The sessions will be open to the media on Wednesday of each week. While player attendance is strongly encouraged the practices are voluntary.

The week after OTAs end the team will hold its minicamp on June 13-14. Minicamp is essentially a continuation of OTAs but player attendance is mandatory.

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.