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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins faces tough task against Packers pass defense

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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins faces tough task against Packers pass defense

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 6, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers in a wild card playoff game.

Five first thoughts on Redskins vs. Packers

—The Packers are probably the toughest pass defense that the Redskins have faced since they played the Panthers in Week 11. Green Bay is better than any team that the Redskins have played in the last six games in terms of both opponent passer rating and net passing yards per attempt.

—However, the Packers do have some vulnerability to the deep pass. The have given up 14 passes of 40 yards or more, tied for the third most in the league. The Redskins hope that DeSean Jackson’s week off did him some good. The pressure will be on the offensive line to keep the Packers at bay (43 sacks, T-7th) and give Kirk Cousins time to find Jackson deep.

—That Carolina game was only game in the last seven where Cousins failed to post a passer rating of over 100. My guess is that if he doesn’t have a good day, a very good day, the Redskins won’t be able to win. Cousins has been carrying the team, the offensive part of it anyway, during their four-game winning streak. If it’s going to extend to five I think Cousins needs to go something like 28 of 35 for 325 yards with three touchdowns and no picks if the Redskins are going to survive and advance.

—It’s weakness meets weakness when the Redskins’ rushing offense is matched up against the Green Bay rush defense. Washington is 29th in the NFL with an average of 3.7 yards per carry. The Packers are 29th in the league giving up 4.5 yards per attempt. It’s an opportunity for the Redskins to get rolling on the ground and Alfred Morris did look more like his 2012-2014 self than he has most of this year.

—Even though Aaron Rodgers is having an off year by his standards, he’s still dangerous going off schedule and hitting receivers who are open because the defense lost track of them. He threw 31 touchdown passes and had just eight interceptions. On my schedule in the next couple of days is an article saying that the Redskins actually have an edge at the quarterback position in this game. And I believe that. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Rodgers drew on his well of postseason experience and pulled this one out for the Packers.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins vs. Packers in wild card playoff game 4; Super Bowl 50 32

In case you missed it

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.

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Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

After separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Jordan Reed has officially been ruled out for the Redskins game in Arizona. 

Friday, coach Jay Gruden said Reed doesn't have sufficient range of motion to play against the Cardinals but remains hopeful he'll be healthy for the following game against the Eagles. Reed estimated that range was at about 30 percent Monday.

The decision to sit Reed against the Cardinals comes with little surprise. The 'Skins star tight end did not practice all week, even after having a few extra days to rest after the game last Thursday.

Playing without Reed is obviously a blow to the Washington offense, but No. 2 tight end Vernon Davis has been a strong development for Gruden's team this year. Thursday, Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay said that while losing Reed is a blow to the unit, the team can run almost all of the same plays and sets with Davis that they can with Reed. 

"Fortunately you’re in a situation where you feel really good about your tight end in Vernon Davis where he’s playing at an extremely high level in both phases in the run and in the pass game," McVay said.

As good as Davis has been, he's not the dynamic threat Reed presents. In the second half against Dallas — while playing with the injured shoulder — Reed hauled in two touchdowns and played arguably the best football of his career.

On the season Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns despite missing two games earlier this year dealing with a concussion.

Davis has played in all 11 games this season and has 31 catches for 450 yards and two TDs. 

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