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Need to Know: Redskins have seen this QB switch before

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Need to Know: Redskins have seen this QB switch before

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 15, the day the Washington Redskins visit the Atlanta Falcons.

Dawn of a (mini) era

Welcome to the Kirk Cousins era in Washington even though it will only last three games. The insertion of the Redskins’ backup quarterback into the lineup adds a level of intrigue to the games as the team plays out the string in December for the fifth time in the last six years.

The Mike Shanahan Redskins have done this before. In 2010 Shanahan benched Donovan McNabb after a third straight loss sent the team to 5-8 and eliminated Washington from the playoff race. Rex Grossman started the final three games and was predictably mediocre as the Redskins went 1-2. After 13 games it was clear that the deal to acquire McNabb was a mistake.

If Cousins plays like Grossman did in 2010 (55.6 completion percentage, 6.6 yards/attempt, 81.2 passer rating) there will be no great call among the media and fan base for a quarterback competition between Cousins and Robert Griffin III in 2014. Actually, let me walk that back a bit. If Cousins completes three passes in a row at some point some of the less rational observers out there will start a Cousins in ’14 campaign. But beyond the lunatic fringe, a Rex-like performance will not stir a call for any change.

But let’s say Cousins completes 65 percent of his passes, throws for seven TD’s and one interception and puts up a 95 passer rating in his three games. Then the question becomes not so much if there should be a QB competition but if the Redskins should trade one of their quarterbacks. And Cousins is the only quarterback who can be traded.

Whether there is a new regime in place in 2014 or if somehow Shanahan survives, Griffin is going nowhere. Even if dealing him was a good idea (it’s not) and if they could get anything approaching what they gave up to get him (they couldn’t), the salary cap hit would be prohibitive. Such a move would create over $12 million in dead salary cap. They simply can’t afford that much dead money on the book as they attempt to climb out of the hole created in part by the $36 million salary cap penalty the Redskins were hit with over the last two years.

Part of what would make Cousins attractive to teams in the market for a quarterback is his contract. He has two years left on his rookie deal with salaries of $570,000 in 2014 and $660,000 in 2015.

But nobody can be traded until the new league year begins on March 11. What’s at hand today is Cousins facing Atlanta defense that has allowed opposition quarterbacks to rack up a passer rating of 104.3, the highest in the leage. That basically means that every week the QB Atlanta is facing is like RG3 in 2012.

The Redskins, of course, are just ahead of Atlanta with an opposition passer rating of 101.2. You rarely see this kind of advice given out there but take the over.

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In case you missed it

Sunday 12.08

Monday 12.09

Tuesday 12.10

Wednesday 12.11

Thursday 12.12

Friday 12.13

Saturday 12.14

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Redskins 2017 training camp preview—offense

Redskins 2017 training camp preview—offense

RICHMOND—The Redskins will assemble here tomorrow to get ready to get ready for the 2017 season. There are plenty of position competitions and other storylines. Here is a look at what we at CSN will be paying attention to, starting with the offense.

Kiss Cousins goodbye?

As everyone reading this knows, the Redskins quarterback did not agree to a long-term contract by the deadline last week and he will play out the season on the franchise tag. The situation will have a major impact next spring as free agency approaches but that’s to be sorted out in 2018. The question here is whether Cousins’ contract status will affect what takes place here in Richmond and as the season unfolds starting in September.

Some believe that it will be a major storyline and that it will be a distraction with media asking lots of questions and the possibility that Cousins’ thoughts will drift towards next year and his potential free agency.

RELATED: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

However, Cousins was in a similar position last year, when he played on the franchise tag for the first time. There was a flurry of questions at the start of training camp, Cousins answered them, and then they moved on. The rule that prohibits contract negotiations with a tagged player during the season had its intended effect. There was no buzz about the situation until the season was over.

This year the situation is ratcheted up a bit because of the high cost of the tags available to the Redskins next year. But Cousins is very good at deflecting questions about his contract status and he should be able to handle the scrutiny.

Changes at wide receiver

No team had ever lost two 1,000-yard receivers in the same offseason until the Redskins saw both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson depart as free agents in March. It means that Josh Doctson steps into a featured role and Terrelle Pryor will be expected to produce as well as he did in Cleveland last year, if not better.

The changes also mean that Jamison Crowder is likely to see more targets and holdovers Maurice Harris and Ryan Grant could see increased roles. It all will be sorted out in training camp starting on Thursday.

Further down the depth chart, can sixth-round rookie Robert Davis get up to speed soon enough to justify a roster spot? And can veteran Brian Quick rebound from some shaky offseason practices to claim a slot on the 53?

Two-back attack?

Last year Rob Kelley worked his way up from being an overlooked, undrafted free agent rookie to being the starting running back. This year, Samaje Perine comes in as a fourth-round pick with an eye on taking the job away from Kelley.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, 11-20

It is likely that Kelley, who is a favorite of Jay Gruden’s, will be the Week 1 starter. Still, it would not be surprising if Perine led the team in carries and rushing yards in several games as the season unfolds, perhaps more.

Meanwhile, Mack Brown and Keith Marshall (if he can stay healthy) will compete for the fourth running back job—if the team decides to keep that many. They only kept three coming out of camp last year.

O-line stability

The same five starters will line up for the second year in a row. There’s really nothing to see here unless Arie Kouandjio can make a big push and move into Shawn Lauvao’s spot at left guard.

There is some intrigue about the backup center spot. If rookie Chase Roullier can’t get up to speed they may have to look at the waiver wire.

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.

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Redskins Playbook: 5 forgotten names to remember for training camp

Redskins Playbook: 5 forgotten names to remember for training camp

When the Redskins open training camp in Richmond on Thursday, fans will line up to get autographs from Kirk Cousins, Josh Norman and Jordan Reed. Plenty of other players will excite the fans too as optimism rules the first few days of practice in July and August. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

There are other players that fans probably won't scream their names, but who could play a role or fight for a roster spot this fall. Winning in the NFL is almost nearly as dependent on the final 10 players on the roster as it is the first five. Depth is key, and here are a few players that fans might have forgotten about. 

  • RB Keith Marshall - The speedster out of Georgia has a wildly impressive resume - on paper - but just can't stay healthy. In college he started ahead of Todd Gurley for a time, now considered one of the best RBs in the NFL for the Rams. Marshall landed on the injured reserve last year as a rookie but looked healthy and capable at Redskins Park this offseason during OTAs and minicamp. The running back position looks quite full, but if Marshall can show his elite speed and make it through four preseason games, he just might push Mack Brown for a roster spot. 
  • LB Martrell Spaight - A tackling machine in college at Arkansas, Spaight missed most of his rookie season in 2015 before appearing in 14 games last season. Bad luck struck again, and he finished the year on the IR. With the addition of Zach Brown to the interior linebackers, Spaight might have a tough battle for a roster spot. Will Compton, Mason Foster and Brown all seem certain to make the team. Spaight could also start the year on the PUP list, which might be the surest way to stay on the Redskins.
  • LB Chris Carter - Signed as a free agent this year, the journeyman Carter has played for six teams in six years and looks poised to play the special teams role that Terence Garvin took on last year. If Carter makes the roster, that means trouble for Spaight. 
  • DL Anthony Lanier - An undrafted rookie in 2016 that didn't see much game action, Lanier has really impressed coaches with his work ethic this offseason. He has great size at 6-foot-6 and added about 20 pounds of muscle since the season ended, which should allow him the strength to handle the trenches. Lanier could be a sneaky important player this fall for Washington. 
  • S Will Blackmon - D.J. Swearinger and Su'a Cravens look to be the starting safeties for the Redskins in 2017. Swearinger has a proven track record in the NFL secondary, Cravens does not, but showed the ability to do so in college at USC. After those two, and with DeAngelo Hall on the PUP list, the Redskins lack much depth or experience in the defensive backfield. That's where Blackmon should help. A versatile veteran, Blackmon has the speed to keep up with most wideouts and is one of the more cerebral players on the defense. 

Bonus: RB Matt Jones - He might want off the Redskins roster, but that hasn't happened yet. If the team sustains any injuries at the running back position, Jones' fortunes could change quickly. 

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