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Need to Know: Gruden—Redskins 'have a lot of work to do'

Need to Know: Gruden—Redskins 'have a lot of work to do'

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 28, the day that the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 200 days ago. It will be 46 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 14; Final roster cut 37; Cowboys @ Redskins 52

—Former Redskins Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels was born on this date in 1977.

Gruden happy with progress but warns of work to be done

Some notes and quotes from Jay Gruden's Wednesday press conference to kick off Redskins training camp.

—After giving the team a glowing report for how it performed during OTAs and talking about what a good mix of veterans and young players are on the team Gruden came up with the “yeah, but”. “We were 9-8 last year, lost to the Packers at home in a big game obviously in the playoffs and we have a lot of work to do, no question about it,” he said, repeating the reality that he touched on a few times when meeting with the press during this offseason. Redskins fans should feel good if he is pounding the 9-8 concept to his team whenever the opportunity arises.

—Gruden wouldn’t talk about injuries or the PUP list. The team was just finishing up the conditioning best and Gruden said that the coaches would meet (presumably along with medical staff) last night and decide what to do. It’s appears to be a given that TE Derek Carrier will start on PUP but beyond that it's up in the air.

—The coach did talk about G Shawn Lauvao’s situation, saying that he is “very close” to being able to go after missing all of the offseason program with foot and ankle injuries. I think he feels pretty good. I imagine he’ll be a couple of days still but I think he’ll be ready to roll shortly.” So it will be a few more days until the Lauvao-Spencer Long battle at left guard can commence. If Lauvao’s situation pushes it much beyond that Long will start to have a decided edge in the competition.

—Another offseason theme was a lack of concern about the depth chart at running back. That continued in Richmond. “We have some guys in the building we’re going to look at,” Gruden said. He was referring to Chris Thompson, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall, and Robert Kelly. None of them seems like a suitable substitute should Matt Jones get injured or struggle with turnovers. We will see how it turns out.

—Gruden wasn’t asked about Josh Doctson but there has been talk that the rookie wide receiver might not be ready to go full in practice due his ailing Achilles.  Even if he isn’t quite good to go they may keep him off of the PUP list. If a player is on that list he can’t practice at all, not even to the point of playing catch with a teammate. Assuming they believe he will be ready to go soon there really isn’t any advantage to not letting their first-round pick learn what he can while recovering.

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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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