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Need to Know: Grading Redskins' Cousins against the Panthers

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Need to Know: Grading Redskins' Cousins against the Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 24, five days before the Redskins host the New York Giants.

Five final thoughts on Panthers 44, Redskins 16

—I simply don’t buy assertions that the Redskins suffered from some great “momentum” loss after Chris Culliver’s pick six was nullified by a shaky penalty call. They had a chance to grab momentum after Andre Roberts’ 99-yard kickoff return tied the game at 14. The Redskins did briefly, forcing a three and out on defense. But their offense promptly went three and out. The Panthers took the ensuing punt and drove all the way from their own eight into field goal range before the Culliver play. By that point it was clear that the Panthers were the superior team and while the final score might not have been as ugly if Culliver’s touchdown had stood the outcome would not have changed. Momentum matters much more if the two teams are evenly matched. On this day, Carolina was just better.

—I would argue that the holding penalty against Jordan Reed had just as big an impact as the Culliver penalty and it probably was a worse call. If Kirk Cousins’ run stands and the Redskins have first and goal at the three, they likely score and it’s 28-21 at halftime and Washington was receiving the second-half kickoff. The holding was a much worse call than the roughing because referees are trained to throw flag in borderline situations when the penalty involves player safety. They are not encouraged to call ticky-tack holding penalties.

—One more thing on penalties then we’ll move on. As Jay Gruden said during his press conference on Monday, illegal contact penalties need to be reviewable. If Gruden or any coach wants to use one of his challenges on such a play, why not? They are often big plays. Sure, it’s a judgment call, but so is whether a player got a second foot inbounds on a catch or if the ball broke the imaginary plane of the goal line. If there’s indisputable visual evidence that there was no prohibited contact, reverse the call. If not, it stands. In college they automatically review every such call. And the NFL reviews them each week to decide whether or not the player will be fined.

—I’ve been debating what grade to give Kirk Cousins for his performance on Sunday and I think I’m going with a C-, although I wouldn’t argue too hard if you want to go lower. His interception was completely on him as he overthrew DeSean Jackson for what would have been a first down near midfield. Cousins took five sacks and although at least one of them was due Josh LeRibeus snapping the ball too early and another came when Ty Nsekhe came in off the bench cold after Trent Williams was hurt and was evidently unprepared to, you know, block somebody, he takes his share of blame for them. On the good side, the TD pass to Jackson was very well thrown and he made a few other good throws. And his run that was nullified was very well executed. I’m grading on the curve a bit because he was up against the league’s best pass defense. All in all, the game was another data point to judge him by and this one on the down side of the “average” line.

—I’ve been giving Matt Jones something of a pass for his fumbles but he’s running out of rope. Four fumbles in 104 touches is beyond a concern and something to work on, it’s a five-alarm problem. Jones has been somewhat unlucky in that the Redskins lost all four fumbles and all of them either led to a touchdown for the other team or cost the Redskins a sure score. Jay Gruden can’t bench him because he is capable of making plays like the 78-yard touchdown rumble with a screen pass against the Saints. But “they work on ball security all the time” won’t cut it anymore. Jones needs special attention when it comes to holding on to the ball.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Giants @ Redskins 5; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Bears 19

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Rookie hazing: DeSean Jackson turns Kendall Fuller around in 1v1 drills (VIDEO)

Rookie hazing: DeSean Jackson turns Kendall Fuller around in 1v1 drills (VIDEO)

Beating up on Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller has become normal on social media the last few weeks, but the rookie still has a bright NFL future, not to mention he opened the season with a string of strong games. 

That said, Fuller has had a rough last few weeks for the 'Skins. Manning the slot corner role, the rookie has faced tough matchups and been caught out of position a few times. Coaches always talk about Fuller's work ethic in practice, and he goes hard each session. But on Wednesday, Fuller was put in a tough spot, facing off against DeSean Jackson in one-on-ones.

One-on-one drills between defensive backs and wide receivers are inherently titled toward the offensive side of the field. There are no linebackers, no pass rush, no safety help. Generally, receivers should catch the pass in one-on-one drills. 

Few corners perform well against Jackson in one-on-ones, but it's worse when the cameras are rolling. Watch the full video above. 

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Williams, Lichtensteiger back at practice for Redskins

Williams, Lichtensteiger back at practice for Redskins

The Redskins had two offensive linemen return to practice today and they had some others out of practice, nursing injuries.

Back were left tackle Trent Williams and center Kory Lichtensteiger. Williams has finished serving a four-game suspense for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Lichtensteiger has been on injure reserve with a calf injury since Week 4. Just before practice the team announced that he has been designated to return from IR and that his three-week practice window before the team needs to activate him starts today.

His window is unlikely to be that long. Starting center Spencer Long is in the league concussion protocol after leaving the Cardinals game on Sunday. John Sullivan finished up the game in place of Long and he is the likely starter if Long can’t play against the Eagles this Sunday. However there is not another backup center on the roster and if Long is out in Philadelphia Lichtensteiger probably will be activated to play should something happen to Sullivan.

Left guard Shawn Lauvao and tackle Ty Nsekhe were not participating in practice either. Nsekhe has been fighting through an ankle injury as he was subbing for Williams. The nature of Lauvao’s injury is unclear.

On defense, safeties Will Blackmon and Donte Whitner were absent from practice. Blackmon is in the concussion protocol. The reason for Whitner’s a sense is unknown.

Jay Gruden will update the media on the various injuries after practice.