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Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins' run game will mix zone and power

Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins' run game will mix zone and power

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 4, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

Three and out

Here are notes and quotes from after Wednesday’s OTA practice at Redskins Park:

1. Although Jay Gruden likely would rather have had DeSean Jackson there for the first week of OTAs last week he didn’t seem to be too worked up over the wide receiver’s absence. “They have lives,” said Gruden. “This is a major part of what they do. Obviously, we’d loved everyone to be here, 100 percent. I don’t know how many teams have a hundred percent, but I think we’ve had great participation overall from top to bottom of our roster. He missed a little bit of time, but he had reasons for it.”

2. It was noted that Josh LeRibeus did some reps at center during team drills. They are in need of a backup after Chris Chester was let go last week. “It’s important. It really is, because that’s one thing that we’re missing with Chris,” said Gruden. “If something were to happen to Kory [Lichtensteiger] in a game, Chris was our backup center. So we have to train another guy to be a center and Josh is taking the right steps to do that. We’ll have some backup centers in-house if something were to happen long-term, but it’s important on gameday that we have a backup center. Right now, Josh is working hard at it. Spencer Long is also working at it. We have to have that covered.”

3. After a few months of talk of the Redskins shifting to the power running game, Gruden wants it to be known that the team will be versatile on the ground. “We’re going to do both. We’re not going to abandon the outside zone,” he said. “Alfred Morris is a great outside zone runner. He’s a great zone runner. I think the ability to do a little bit of both is very, very important to keep defenses off-balance. Spencer is a very powerful man and very good for the power running game, the gap-style blocking, but he also has some great movement skills.”

Out: As noted in yesterday’s practice report, the Redskins defenders have a lot to learn with the team lining up in multiple looks form snap to snap. Defensive coordinator is pleased with the process. “It’s definitely a process, and we’re in the fifth OTA of the offseason,” he said. “We have good plays during the day and we have bad plays during the day, but that’s what we’re here for – we’re teachers. That’s the No. 1 thing that as a coach you have got to do, you have got to teach. It’s definitely a process, but like I said, there is a lot more good out there right now than bad and I’m very happy with where we are at as a unit.”

Timeline

—It’s been 158 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 101 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 12; Redskins training camp starts 56; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 112

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!