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Need to Know: Five Redskins with a lot at stake in 2016

Need to Know: Five Redskins with a lot at stake in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 19, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 161 days ago. It will be 85 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 39; Preseason opener @ Falcons 53; Final roster cut 76

Hot topics from the Redskins Week that was

All NFL players are under pressure to perform. But some have a lot at stake personally in 2016. Here are five Redskins who are under pressure this year both on and off the field.

QB Kirk Cousins—The Redskins’ defense and running game may improve but they are still a passing team in a passing league and a lot of games will come down to Cousins’ right arm. If he plays the season out under the franchise tag he will be trying to make his case for big bucks; if he signs he will be under pressure to live up to it.

RB Matt Jones—It doesn’t look like the Redskins have a backup chute here; the running game will live or die with Jones. He will need to add nearly a yard to the league-worst 3.4 per carry average he had last year and cut down significantly on his fumbles if he is going to get it done. This is probably his one shot; running backs rarely get more than two seasons to develop. If Jones can’t get it done in 2016 the team will search for another solution in 2017 and Jones could end up fighting for snaps.

WR DeSean Jackson—There is a lot going on here. The Redskins offense was at its best last year when he was in the lineup and functioning at 100 percent. Jackson needs to stay healthy and in the lineup and play well. He put a big target on his back by deciding to skip a good portion of offseason workouts. On a personal level he will turn 30 late in the season and he needs to have a good year if he is going to get another lucrative contract, whether it’s in Washington or elsewhere.

CB Bashaud Breeland—Earlier this week Breeland said, “my opinion is that I can be the next Darrell Green.” It’s not as though the guy needed to put any more pressure on himself. Playing opposite Josh Normal is likely to cause plenty of passes to be thrown his way. Plus he has one more year before he is eligible for a contract extension. Breeland could be set for some time to come if he plays well in 2016.

S DeAngelo Hall—The Redskins are cautiously optimistic about Hall’s ability to lock down a safety job but the emphasis has to be on caution. He’ll be 33 in November, he has missed 19 games due to injuries in the last two year, and he’s playing a new position. Hall doesn’t have a huge contract but he doesn’t come cheap either, with cap hits of just over $5 million in each of the next two years. The team will be able to show some degree of patience as he adjusts to playing safety but his rope will not be unlimited.

Is there anyone you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 27-10 win over the Raiders:

This was the Redskins best defensive performance since 1991. That was the last time they held an opponent to under 128 total yards. They were physical, smart, determined and they made plays. If not for two turnovers they would have had a shutout. Oakland did not cross the Washington 48 without the benefit of a gift. Just dominant. 

With a strong defense, you can do what you want to on offense. I asked Kirk Cousins how much running for a couple of yards a pop as Samaje Perine was doing early in the game helped the offense. He answered in part by saying that the offense can afford to run for a low average per carry when the defense is playing so well. That's true. A punt isn't a bad play when you are confident that you are likely to get the ball back three plays later. 

Chris Thompson just keeps getting better every week. His patience when he has the ball in his hands and his ability to burst into the opening when it's there are textbook excellent. Oh yeah, his open field speed, which he gets to show off after being patient and cutting is amazing. Even the smaller plays, like two near the end of the half, when he wove his way through the cracks in the defense and then got out of bounds after gaining everything he could, are fun to watch. He is the Redskins' offensive MVP so far. 

Doctson showed why the Redskins drafted him on one flash. Nobody is going to give Josh Doctson an MVP award but we did see his potential when he went up and took that deep pass away from David Amerson for the touchdown. Plays like that make you see why the Redskins drafted him in the first round and why they have been patient with him. He will need to develop consistency but in the meantime, splash plays like that help a lot.

It’s hard to find fault in this one. Normally in these posts, I try to find a positive in a loss and something to be critical of in a win. But it’s really hard to find much to be critical about in the immediate aftermath of this one. Jamison Crowder’s muff of a punt certainly was an issue and perhaps Samaje Perine could have made more out of the line’s blocking for him. But from the defense to Cousins to Thompson to Zach Brown to D.J. Swearinger and many more, it was as dominant a game as we’ve seen from this team in a while. Can they keep it up? Tune in next Monday from Arrowhead Stadium and we’ll find out.

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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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.