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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins thinks he missed an opportunity vs. Falcons

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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins thinks he missed an opportunity vs. Falcons

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 15, four days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 8:35 in Richmond; player and Jay Gruden availability after practice. The session is not open to the public.

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 218 days ago. It will be 28 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 seaTson opener.

Days until: Final roster cut 19; Cowboys @ Redskins 34; Browns @ Redskins 48

Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden read and react

Cousins on competition in training camp:
When they come in with 90 guys and they cut it down to 53—but really in my mind, it’s 46 because those are the only guys who can dress on game day —you’re literally cutting the roster in half.
That is an interesting way of looking at it. I don’t quite see it that way because the inactive seven get a full NFL salary and have the chance to be active the next week if they aren’t in Week 1. And at $6,000 per week the practice squad beats driving for Uber. But players like to do mental tricks that make the odds against them seem to be longer, sort of a self-motivation technique. It’s along the lines for Ricky Bobby, “If you’re not first you’re last”. If you’re not on the 46 you’re unemployed.

Cousins on possibly leaving a play on the field vs. the Falcons:
We want to be able to run in favorable situations against advantageous fronts. I know for sure that one of those runs the other night was a run that I easily oculd have audibled out of and gone to a pass, but I decided to leave the run play on. It didn’t work, and after the fact you’re thinking maybe the next time go to the pass. By no means is it bad play calling or we’re not running the ball well, sometimes it’s just that I can get out of the play and get us to a better play. That’s the kind of thing people on the outside may not realize.
When you see a play called that goes right into the teeth of the defense it isn’t always the fault of the play caller. The quarterback does have the option to change many plays at the line to one that may be better suited to beat the defense. After the game Gruden mentioned in passing one of the issues with the running game was that the quarterbacks could have bailed out of some runs that were doomed from the start. This must have been one of the plays that he was referring to.

Cousins on the lack of drama in training camp:
I’ve told my teammates that I’d like to be the San Antonio Spurs of the NFL, be super boring and maybe people at the end of the season just go, ‘Wow, they really had a good year and no one really talked about it’, I don’t need to promote myself. I don’t need to promote what we’re doing.
“I don’t need to promote myself.” Hmm, I wonder what he’s referring to here. Perhaps an ex-teammate? In any case, the players and coaches have to like the “boring” nature of camp so far. That doesn’t mean that so-called distractions are an excuse for losing—the Broncos had a ton of them last year with the fading Peyton Manning at the helm—but all other things being equal it’s better not to have them than have them.

Gruden on the penalties committed on Thursday:
“Yeah, penalties are an issue, man. It’s a very important part of the game – offense, defense, special teams and penalties, man, and turning the ball over. We looked at them extensively today and make sure we get them corrected because those things—you can be as skilled as you want to, be as prepared as you want to, but if you commit penalties, you’ve got no chance.
The penalties give you no chance theory was true last year. The worst eight teams in terms of penalty yards taken per game all missed the playoffs. But in 2014 the two Super Bowl participants, the Seahawks and Patriots, finished 25th and 26th in penalty yards. So it’s not a hard and fast rule. Gruden's team does have difficulty winning despite penalty issues. In 2014 they were penalized for more yards than all but one NFL team and they finished 4-12. Last year they were eighth best in terms of penalty yards assessed and they went 9-7 and won the NFC East.

Tandler on Twitter Instagram

Paea with some pretty good feet for a big guy. #Redskins

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Go home again? Redskins schedule visit with former RB Tim Hightower, per report

Go home again? Redskins schedule visit with former RB Tim Hightower, per report

The Redskins will host Tim Hightower for a visit on Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Triplett reported. Bringing Hightower in at this point represents an impressive story far beyond a mundane free agent visit.  

If his career ended today, Tim Hightower's story would already be remarkable. Hightower - a DMV native that played his college ball at the University of Richmond - played for the Redskins in the 2011 season. That season, he tore his ACL, and was limited to five games.

While torn ACL's happen frequently in the NFL, what happened next for Hightower was anything but ordinary. He missed the next three seasons with an undiagnosed infection, before incredibly returning to the NFL in 2015 with the Saints. 

His last two years in New Orleans, Hightower has been a solid contributor behind starting RB Mark Ingram. He's rushed for more than 900 yards, gained another 330 yards through the air and hit the end zone nine times in 24 games for the Saints. 

In Washington, Hightower would join a backfield of Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown and Matt Jones. It will be interesting to see if Washington adds any other backs through the draft in April as well. 

Born in Waldorf, Hightower went to high school in Alexandria before playing college ball at Richmond. Playing with the 'Skins in 2011, Hightower quickly became a fan favorite, especially with his local ties. 

The Redskins run game has not been particularly strong for a few seasons, and questions remain if the current stable of runners will be enough to improve. Hightower doesn't necesarily equal a significant talent boost, but perhaps coaches and front office staff are looking at the group.

Be aware, however, this could be nothing more than a visit. Triplett reported it remains possible Hightower returns to the Saints. He also visited the 49ers last week, and new San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was running the 'Skins offense in 2011 when the team originally acquired Hightower.

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Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 36 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

Isaiah Ford

Wide receiver
Virginia Tech

Height: 6-1
Weight: 194
40-yard dash: 4.61

Projected draft round: 3-4

What they’re saying

Ford looks the part of a speed merchant with a tight-skinned, athletic frame, including long limbs. He glides off the line of scrimmage, accelerating fluidly to force defenders to respect his ability to go deep and shows very good balance to sink his hips, as well as burst out of his breaks to create separation. Ford shows the initial quickness and lateral agility to avoid defenders in press coverage, occasionally mixing in a hesitation move to get opponents off-balance. He is willing to run across the middle and cut back inside on quick screens, showing the toughness to absorb big hits and still hang on to the ball. Ford was asked to play outside as well as in the slot

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The top of the Redskins’ depth chart at wide receiver looks good with Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor. But depth is a concern, especially with Doctson’s durability a question mark. On top of that, Pryor is there on a one-year contract so there must be some succession planning at the position.

Ford was a very productive receiver at Virginia Tech, the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season. He has the knack for making the sensational catch and he isn’t afraid to go across the middle.

At 6-1 he has the height that seems to be the trend on the Redskins’ wide receiver corps lately. Ford could be a good mid-round pick for the team to develop in 2017 and be ready to be a full contributor in 2018.

Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs. Pitt

Ford is not afraid to run slants over the middle and is willing to cut back to the center of the field after catching bubble screens.

His run blocking ranged from unimpressive to bad with the caveat that it’s hard to evaluate on the TV camera angles. This is an area that can be improved with NFL coaching. Adding a few pounds to his 194-lb. frame could help, too. It also sometimes appears that he could use more bulk to help him use his height when fighting for a ball.

The good and the bad of Ford was on display in the span of a few minutes during the Pitt game. He made a spectacular catch on a tipped ball that bounced off of both him and the defensive back (view here) while they were on the ground. Ford had the awareness to scoop the ball off the chest of the defender and secure it to make the catch. A little while later he was in a great position to made a catch for a first down but he bobbled the ball as he was falling out of bounds (view here) and the pass was incomplete.

In the games I reviewed Ford showed a good knack to make back shoulder catches, something the Redskins don’t seem to like to try. But the ability is there if they draft him and want to try it.

Potential issues: Ford looks skinny, almost fragile, at 194 pounds. If he does add weight he needs to do so without losing much speed. He ran a 4.61 in the 40 at the combine. Against college defensive backs he looks fast enough but that will be a different story in the NFL.

Bottom line: The Redskins can’t go into the season with a very green Maurice Harris and a very pedestrian Ryan Grant as their backup wide receivers. They need a player who can provide depth in 2017 and be able to step up to have a legitimate shot at starting in 2018.

There will be several prospects in the third- and fourth- round range who could be the guy. If the Redskins think that Ford can add a few pounds without sacrificing speed and brush up on his run blocking a bit, they could take a serious look at him.

In his own words:

On how the coaching change from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente helped him:

I think it simplified everything for us. It limited the amount of routes that I ran - slants, outs, fades and posts; my first two years, I was running digs, post curls, comebacks, things like that - that was fine. I'm comfortable doing both. The route-running was never a problem for me because I feel that's what I do best. Being able to play primarily 'X' last year, winning those 50-50 balls and running those routes, it helped me.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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.