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Need to Know: Redskins have contained Peterson

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Need to Know: Redskins have contained Peterson

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 6, one day before the Washington Redskins visit the Minnesota Vikings.

Nickel coverage

Five notes and quotes from the Redskins locker room:

1. David Amerson may have saved the Redskins season by knocking running back David Woodhead out of bounds just short of the goal line late in Sunday’s game against the Chargers. But being a hero did not cross his mind at the time. “I wasn't thinking about trying to save the game or whatever,” said the rookie cornerback. “I just, I can't let him get in this end zone. I'm going to do everything in my power to keep him out. That was my mentality.”

2. The Redskins gained some nice yardage with a few new offensive wrinkles including a couple of 18-yard runs out of the triple option. Robert Griffin III says that the benefit of such plays can go beyond the immediate yardages picked up. “I think it can be a little confusing for a defense,” he said. Nothing that such plays can “mess up guys’ keys”, Griffin said that you might just need one big play. “All you need is a few, a couple of big plays every game to kind of help you establish yourself and get into a rhythm as an offense,” he said.

3. The Redskins have done a pretty good job of containing Adrian Peterson over the years. He has played in four games against them, including one in 2007 before the current coaching staff was in place. He has 180 yards on 44 carries, an average of 45 yards per game and 4.1 per carry. Both averages are well under his career numbers of 98 yards a game and 5.0 per carry. They do need to watch for him catching some passes out of the backfield, however. He has 12 receptions for 119 yards against Washington.

4. On Tuesday the Redskins practiced in the bubble wearing no pads or helmets. With the short week the focus now in more on film work and other such preparation rather than going through physical reps. “A lot of it right now is mental preparation—watching a lot of film over the next 48-plus hours,” said Mike Shanahan. “It’s not really physical coming off of that game we just had, especially going into overtime. You take all those factors into consideration in a short week.”

5. NFL players have tremendous focus, often to the point where they don’t know things that most fans and media members just assume they know. After Sunday’s game, Griffin knew the Redskins were playing the Vikings next but he didn’t know who they played the week after that (it’s the Eagles). And when asked about the possibility of a letdown against a 1-7 Vikings team, Brandon Meriweather replied: “Honestly, I didn't know even know their record. I try to take it one game at a time. We was 3-6 last year and made the playoffs, you really can't overlook anybody in this league.”

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Stat of the day

—With a win tomorrow night the Redskins will improve to 4-5. Their playoff chances will get better but, historically, they will still be a long shot. Since 1990, 14 out of the 122 teams to start 4-5 made the playoffs (11.5%).

Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Vikings 1; Redskins @ Eagles 11; Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 19

—Today’s schedule: Practice 10:30; Player availability, Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, and Jim Haslett news conference after practice (approx. 12:00)

In case you missed it

“How could we overlook them when we’re not that good?”

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Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

RICHMOND - Looking at the contracts for the two most important people associated with the Washington Redskins, a clear discrepancy arises. The head coach, Jay Gruden, is under contract until 2020. The quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is only under contract for 2017. 

Some speculation suggested that, given the diverging deals, at some point Gruden might look to develop another passer that's locked in with the Redskins for the long-term. Backup QB Colt McCoy is under contract for the next two seasons, and second-year passer Nate Sudfeld is under team control through the 2019 season. 

Gruden made clear that isn't the case. Crystal clear. 

"We're focused on Kirk," the head coach said. "He's our starter and he's going to get all the starter reps. Period."

Cousins should obviously be the focus. In the past two seasons he's twice broken the Washington single season passing yards record, and his rise has coincided with the Redskins first back to back winning seasons in 20 years. 

As for practice reps, Cousins will get the vast majority. McCoy will get work, and Sudfeld too, but this Redskins team is focused on winning this season. 2018 contracts are not on the coach's mind in July of 2017, nor should they be. 

"Colt [McCoy] will take advantage of his reps, I'm sure he will. And Nate [Sudfeld] will get a few sprinkled in there. We're trying to develop Nate also for the future. But, this is Kirk's team right now, and it's our job to get him ready for Philadelphia and really surround him and make him feel good about the people around him. Trying to get him used to [Josh] Doctson, get him used to [Terrelle] Pryor, we have some new weapons around him, so it's a matter of getting him ready. But Kirk will get all of them."

With a rebuilt defense and plenty of options offensively, the Redskins should compete for a playoff spot this year. Is there a scenario where the team sputters and spirals into a lost season? Maybe. And in that hypothetical scenario, perhaps at some point it makes sense to see what another passer can do. It's a long shot. 

For Redskins fans, know that Cousins is the unequivocal starter. Period. 

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Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

RICHMOND—The Redskins will be without Jordan Reed in training camp for an unknown period of time. Although his toe injury does not appear to be serious, others will have to fill the gap until he is able to return. And the Redskins just so happen to have one of the deepest tight end groups in the NFL and they added another one with NFL playing experience on Thursday.

Jay Gruden said that the Redskins needed to sign E.J. Bibbs, who has one NFL catch in his career, because Vernon Davis, the backup tight end, has “a little bit of a tweaked hamstring.” Davis, who caught 44 passes for 583 yards last year, seemed to me moving fine in practice after Gruden spoke to the media but he could need some reps off on occasion so they brought in Bibbs to fill in the gap. There is no point in pushing the 33-year-old Davis if it’s not necessary.

RELATED: Redskins camp hot topics

The Redskins have even more options at tight end. Niles Paul is back and he appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the last eight games in 2016. Paul is going into his seventh season and while he is mostly relied on for special teams play he does have a 500-yard season on his resume (2014).

During offseason practices fifth-round rookie Jeremy Sprinkle looked like he had a lot to learn as he goes from a run-based offense at Arkansas to the Redskins’ sophisticated pass-first scheme. He will need to find his comfort level before he takes any snaps in Reed’s place.

The forgotten veteran is Derek Carrier, who now appears to be fully healthy after he missed the first half of last season with a knee injury he suffered late in 2015. He had just two receptions for 10 yards last year in limited playing time on offense.

MORE REDSKINS: Live practice report, Day 1

Joining Bibbs in the long shot category is Manasseh Garner, a first-year player out of Pitt. While neither player seems to have a shot at the 53-man roster, the Redskins could carry one of the tight ends on the practice squad.

Depth is a good thing to have and the Redskins have done a good job assembling a backup plan at tight end. But you just can’t replace Reed, one of the best few tight ends in the NFL, without a significant drop off in production. The Redskins will let the backups compete and learn in training camp and will keep Reed either on the sideline or doing very light work until he is fully ready to go (and then some).

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.