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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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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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