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Need to Know: How much will Redskins' rushing game improve in 2016?

Need to Know: How much will Redskins' rushing game improve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 20, four days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 131 days ago. It will be 115 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 4; Redskins training camp starts 69; Preseason opener @ Falcons 83

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—The Redskins were 20th in rushing yards last year and 29th in yards per rushing attempt last year. But to me the most damning stat was their No. 32 ranking in rushing DVOA. The rating takes the strength of the opponents into consideration so the ranking indicates that nobody did worse running the ball than the Redskins in terms of the quality of the rushing defenses they faced.

—But it is possible to make big jumps in this category. In 2011 the Redskins were 20th in rushing DVOA; in 2012 they were second. Now, it should be noted that the Redskins aren’t likely to have two dynamic additions to the rushing game like they did in 2012 with Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris coming on board. But the Raiders were 32nd in rushing DVOA in 2014 and improved to 24th last year. That’s still not where you want to be but it’s a step in the right direction. The Bucs improved from 31st in 2014 to 11th last year. I’d look for the Redskins’ 2016 improvement to be something in between that of last year’s Bucs and Raiders.

—When you stop and count heads at inside linebacker you’re looking at quite a logjam. You have holdovers Perry Riley, Will Compton and Mason Foster. Then there is rookie Steven Daniels and first-year player Martrell Spaight. They signed Terence Garvin as a free agent. And Adam Hayward, a veteran leader who has a relatively light $985,000 cap hit, is still on the roster. If Hayward is healthy that means seven players will be competing for a maximum of five spots. That will be interesting to watch.

—As for Daniels and Keith Marshall, his fellow seventh-round pick, perhaps fans should tap the brakes on their expectations of them. There were 39 seventh-round picks last year. Of those, 20, just over half, did not play in a single game. Only seven even appeared in as many as half of their teams’ games. Six players had at least one start and they started a combined 12 games. That doesn’t mean that Marshall and Daniels will not contribute; Scot McCloughan is certainly capable of finding a late-round gem. But seventh-round picks do face long odds and if they are able to contribute at all it should be viewed as a pleasant surprise and not something that should be expected.

—Many were concerned about Trent Murphy's ability to gain enough weight to be able to survive on the defensive line. Maybe he's not there yet but he's working on it.

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What's cuter than the way Kirk Cousins found out his baby's gender? Nothing

What's cuter than the way Kirk Cousins found out his baby's gender? Nothing

What's the cutest thing you've ever seen in your whole, entire life? Whatever that thing is, be prepared for it to slide down to the second spot, because what you're about to see is absolutely going to move up to No. 1 (and then stay there forever).

Two weeks ago, Kirk Cousins and his wife, Julie, announced that they were expecting. That announcement, which was posted on Julie's Instagram, was really adorable in its own right — Mrs. Cousins shared a photo of the couple's dog, Bentley, who was wearing a sign that read, "Mom & Dad are getting me a human!"

On Friday, though, Kirk put up a video on his Instagram that revealed their future child's gender. What else did that video do, you ask? Well, it only made every future gender reveal irrelevant, since none will ever top what the Cousinses did.

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Gender Reveal! Had to stand close so it wouldn't get intercepted... and still almost missed ha! IT'S A...

A post shared by Kirk Cousins (@kirk.cousins) on

OMG. O. M. G. OMG.

The regular season may be months away, but with that toss, Kirk Cousins is already 1-for-1 (yes, the pass was low, but a completion is a completion) with a perfect quarterback rating.

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Vernon Davis 'just can't fathom' the NFL's very strict celebration rules

Vernon Davis 'just can't fathom' the NFL's very strict celebration rules

As he proudly demonstrated in a 27-20 win against the Eagles last October, Vernon Davis has a silky jumpshot. Unfortunately, in today's NFL, celebrating by shooting a football like Davis did in the end zone that fall Sunday is prohibited.

The tight end, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and eventually fined more than $12,000 for the move, didn't really get the point of the rule then, and he still doesn't understand it now. And as he told Kalyn Kahler of MMQB, he think it's time for the league to back off their strict stance on celebrations.

"I would just tell guys that when it comes to celebrations, anything is allowed, as long as it isn’t inappropriate," Davis said when asked how he'd change the celebration rules. "Anything that we know is wrong, we shouldn’t do. I think that is the key."

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In Davis' case, he was penalized because of an odd technicality. The NFL doesn't want players using the ball as a prop — which No. 85 did on his jumper — but yet, they allow guys to spike and spin the ball without retribution. That gray area doesn't sit well with him.

"It doesn’t make sense to me at all," he said. "It should be really simple, we should know that we can’t use the ball as a prop for anything. So for them to allow spiking and not allow shooting, I just can’t fathom that."

The 33-year-old hopes that change is near, and he may get it, too, as the competition committee will reevaluate what is and isn't allowed at the upcoming league meetings. But if he and everyone else clamoring for less restrictions are rebuffed, Davis does have a workaround so that when he scores next, he won't get in trouble. 

"I shoot the shot, but without the ball," Davis said. "That’s my go-to now. As long as I don’t have the ball, I’m safe."

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