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Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden is trying to make things difficult on Cousins

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden is trying to make things difficult on Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 9, 49 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 151 days ago. It will be 95 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 49; Preseason opener @ Falcons 63; Final roster cut to 53, 86

Cousins’ confidence growing

It’s generally a mistake to read too much into performances that take place in shorts and football helmets. For one thing, not everyone participates and players are often going up against reserves and others who just hope to make the roster so they can be reserves. Also, contact is such an important part of the game that any drills that take place without it are difficult to evaluate.

With that said, it’s hard not to notice that Kirk Cousins has looked very, very good in OTAs so far. He looked particularly good on Wednesday as he made quick decisions and zipped the ball to receivers with touch and authority.

“He’s obviously playing with a lot of confidence, having a lot of fun,” said Jay Gruden after the OTA on Wednesday. “He’s got great command of the offense, that’s the one thing that you notice. He’s got great command over the formations. He’s got great command on the snap count, and that’s something he didn’t so much have the first year I was here and even last year in this time of year.”

It’s not a coincidence that in his fifth NFL season Cousins suddenly has great command. This is his first offseason as the starter and he is showing that he intends to take advantage of the opportunity.

Gruden does not intend to make things easy for Cousins.

“I’m trying to challenge him situationally,” said Gruden “Backed up, red zone, third down, fourth down, two-point plays, all of it and trying to see how he handles them. Offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, offensive line, everybody, not just the quarterbacks. We’re trying to challenge him and push the envelope a little bit and get as many situational problems as we can, get them on tape and see how they react and coach and correct off of it. He’s much more comfortable in all of them.”

So far, he has met the challenge. But, again, his success has to be evaluated considering that they are not wearing pads. While it would be great to have an answer about how Cousins will perform in 2016 right now we are going to have to wait.

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Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

Updating Redskins' injury list after loss to Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins went into today’s game against the Cardinals somewhat banged up and they exit with a couple of additional injury concerns in the form of concussions.

Center Spencer Long left the game in the second quarter. Initially it was announced that he had been evaluated for a concussion but that he had been cleared. But after halftime the word came down that he had been retested and it was determined that he does have a concussion. Long has entered the concussion protocol.

Veteran John Sullivan, picked up earlier this season when Kory Lichtensteiger went on injured reserve, filled in a center the rest of the way. He is a capable fill-in but if Long is out he would be the only available center. The Redskins might have to sign a center if it looks like Long will be out of action against the Eagles.

In the fourth quarter safety Will Blackmon left the game. According to Redskins coach Jay Gruden he was being evaluated for a concussion and a stinger. His exact status is unknown. Gruden will give more information during a conference call with reporters on Monday.

[MORE: JOSH NORMAN ON HIS CRUCIAL FOURTH-QUARTER PENALTY]

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Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

Josh Norman on his crucial fourth-quarter penalty vs. Larry Fitzgerald

GLENDALE, AZ—The Redskins had a couple of chances to stop what would eventually turn into the Cardinals’ game-clinching drive in the fourth quarter. The first one came when they went for it on fourth and one at their own 34. It was a gutsy call by Arizona coach Bruce Arians and David Johnson make him look smart by popping off a 14-yard run.

The Cards earned that one. But it looked as though they got something of a gift a few plays later when Josh Norman was flagged holding receiver Larry Fitzgerald. It was a borderline call, granting Arizona a gift third and five conversion. Two plays later Carson Palmer went in for the kill, throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson.

On the field, Norman seemed to be none too pleased with the penalty flag. He said after the game that he thinks that Fitzgerald may have stolen a flag.

“He [Fitzgerald] was within five yards. Larry is a wily vet,” said Norman. “I'd been doing it all game, kind of . . . He breaks out and I go for the ball and the flag got thrown. We'd like to see that not happen in that situation because there was some good position, some good leverage. And a flag came out.

“It is what it is. You can't blame a call on that, blame a call on this. It's whatever, man.”

Norman is right. The Redskins blew plenty of chances to take control of the game and the blame can be spread around on both sides of the ball. But the flag will loom large as the Redskins try to shake off this loss and get ready for the Eagles next week.

[MORE: ANGRY JAY GRUDEN SAYS REDSKINS 'NOT EVEN CLOSE' TO THINKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS]