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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins looks for balance between fire and ice

Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins looks for balance between fire and ice

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 5, three days before the Redskins visit the New England Patriots.

Read and react

Here are some quotes from around Redskins Park on Wednesday and my thoughts on them.

Jason Hatcher on the importance of Sunday’s game and about the Redskins playing as big underdogs.
Every game's a must-win. We intend to win around here. Every game you play is big. Every game is the most important game of your career. So every game to me is a must win . . . You've got to play. There's grown men out there. You've got to play football, I don't care who you are. Redskins, 14-point underdogs, you've got to play.
Reaction: What a lot of fans and media types don’t get is that all games are important to the players and they sincerely believe they have a good chance of winning every time they take the field. They work all their lives to get to the NFL, work countless hours in the offseason and in training camp and during the season to be able to do what they love to do 16 times a year. That’s not very many opportunities. In the latter part, he's saying that no matter what the public might think, the Patriots will have to play well to beat them. Unfortunately, Bill Belichick's guy's almost always do.

Kirk Cousins on balancing the fire he showed in the “You like that!” video clip with the need to be calm in the huddle:
Finding that balance is important. I think that’s a constant learning process as I play to say, ‘OK, where do I operate best?’ It talked experience and time. There’s a level of wanting to bring that fire and passion because hopefully it can raise the level of play of the guys around you, too. Then also you want to stay poised and stay collected, operate like a CEO.
Reaction: The viral video from after the Bucs win was not the first time that Cousins has shown emotion in the tunnel. The CSN cameras are there after every game and have captured him letting off some steam before. It hard, especially for a quarterback, to find that balance. A defensive lineman can be a screaming maniac as soon as the huddle breaks and after the play. The quarterback needs to stay in command and start thinking about the next play as soon as the whistle blows. It’s a constant battle.

Jay Gruden on DE Chris Baker’s solid season so far:
“I think he’s been our most disruptive lineman, which is good. He’s been good in the pass rush, and obviously in the run game he gets great penetration. The great challenge for him is can he do it on a consistent basis? I tell all our guys, you take one play off against these guys, man, and you’ll be trying to get ready to block the extra point . . . Chris has done an outstanding job of that so far. We need it more consistent to move forward.”
Reaction: Frequently when a veteran player improves from one year to another, it’s not because he discovered something new or because he all of a sudden gained abilities at age 28 that he didn’t have at age 27. His play improves because he becomes more consistent. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of work on details and tremendous focus. I haven’t always been convinced that Baker gets it. He didn’t always seem to take things seriously enough. It appears that he does now.

DeAngelo Hall on what makes the Patriots so successful.
I just think they know who they are and are comfortable in their skin. I think they just bring in guys who fit what they want them to do. Whether that's getting another tight end in Chandler from Buffalo. With Hernandez and Gronk they had two, they were able to run or pass out of any formation. They kind of have that same thing now. Having Kevin Faulk, kind of a scat back, then Shane Vereen the last couple of year, they go find Dion Lewis, he kind of does the same thing, maybe even better . . . I just think they've done a good job of knowing who they are.
Reaction: The Patriots are reaping the fruits of stability. Bill Belichick is in his 16th season there and with control over personnel he has had the opportunity to build the team and then replace players as they leave as free agents, get injured, or just become ineffective. This is every GM’s dream and what Scot McCloughan wants to accomplish with the Redskins. But it takes time. Oh, and getting lucky with a sixth round pick and getting a Hall of Fame quarterback doesn’t hurt, either.

Timeline

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

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 3; Saints @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Panthers 17

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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

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Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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.