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Need to Know: Is the Redskins' depth chart at outside linebacker set?

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Need to Know: Is the Redskins' depth chart at outside linebacker set?

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 9, two days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:30; Jay Gruden news conference after practice, approx.. 3:30

—The Redskins last played a game 212 days ago. It will be 34 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 10; Final roster cut 25; Cowboys @ Redskins 40

Read and react: Jay Gruden

On if he’s decided how much the starters will play vs. the Falcons:
“Not yet. You know, we’ll play it by ear, see how we do out at practice today and we’ll have a staff meeting tonight and then make a decision.”
I’m not sure what would make Gruden change from having his starting offense go one series if they move the ball and two if they don’t. The starting defense will probably go two series. It’s not like Gruden to go unconventional in situations like this.

On if Trent Murphy, who just moved back to outside linebacker, would focus more on pass rushing that coverage:
“Originally that was our plan. We’re trying to get him going forward more often. He, Preston [Smith], Ryan [Kerrigan] will be our feature ends – Houston Bates. We’ll see what happens with the other guys who are competing for jobs – Willie Jefferson, Lynden Trail, Double E [Ejiro Ederaine] and Shiro Davis, so we’ll see what happens there. But we’ll try to get him going forward more, yes.”
So it looks like the roster spots at OLB are set, with Kerrigan, Smith, Murphy, and Bates. That’s what Gruden just said. If you’re in the “we’ll see what happens” group I think you might want to get used to living on a practice squad salary at best.

On Su’a Cravens’ position
“We’re going to try him at linebacker first. He’s a 20-year-old kid and coming in here he has got to learn one spot first. He needs to learn the defense, so we figured inside linebacker in nickel and dime situations is the spot to teach him the defense first. From there we can branch off, see his skill set, move on and try him at safety – maybe nickel – whatever it is. Right now we feel like the best place for him learning the defense is at linebacker.”
This is for those of you who are worried that the Redskins will want the 6-1, 222 Cravens to play inside linebacker on first down and plug the hole against big running backs. When will be in when the other team is likely to pass and he will cover and occasionally rush. And he could be more of an in-the-box safety than a linebacker. So sit back, relax, and watch how his role evolves and develops.

On if there is a better example for young players than Ryan Kerrigan:
“Not really, no. He’s very humble, number one. Keeps to himself and does exactly what’s asked of him in practice. He practices hard; in fact, we have to pull him back a little bit because he practices so hard and we want to keep him healthy for the 16-week grind. He’s a top-notch guy, on and off the field, character-wise.. He’s what you’re looking for.”
I’m not sure if Kerrigan’s sack numbers will ever quite live up to his contract. But he’s a guy you want to keep around because of this. One of the things that Scot McCloughan emphasizes in building a team is having players around who serve as the blueprint for other young players who come into the program. Kerrigan is worth a bonue over his sack numbers just for that.

Tandler on Twitter Instagram

An hour after practice ended Josh Norman is still signing autographs. #Redskins

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.