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Need to Know: Redskins have uneven special teams play vs. Patriots

Need to Know: Redskins have uneven special teams play vs. Patriots

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 9, nine days before the Redskins host the Browns on preseason Monday night football.

Nickel coverage

A look back at some notes and quotes from the Redskins preseason game against the Patriots before the final days of training camp start up.

—Some think that Jay Gruden is a pass-first coach but that’s not how he sounded about the Redskins’ ball control (39 minutes of possession time) offense. “It’s important. Our offensive line did a good job blocking, obviously. Both our fullbacks in the game did a nice job,” he said. “Of course the receivers blocking downfield, getting those tough yards. Those yards after contact instead of those three-yard gains, you’re getting four or five yards. It was good to see some cutback runs. Some guys made some physical runs and all sorts of things.”

—Robert Griffin III probably would have preferred to attempt more than the four passes he threw. But he knew what Gruden wanted to do and that it made his offensive line happy. “I think he wanted to get his guys in and out and keep us healthy,” said Griffin. “We’ll move on to the next game and we’ll get some more snaps. And those offensive linemen like to run the ball. Let them get their hands dirty in there for a couple plays and get [running back] Alfred [Morris] some touches. We played off that really well.”

—Griffin liked his coach’s demeanor as well. “He was funny, getting the plays in and out to us,” he said. “He enjoys it and that’s the great thing about it. You enjoy the process, you enjoy game day. He’s out there with us on game day. When we have a bad play, he has a bad play. When we have a great play he has a great play. That’s great to see from a head coach.” Note that Griffin later clarified that Gruden did not tell “knock-knock jokes” into the headset while he was making the calls.

—One area that was uneven for the Redskins on Thursday was special teams. There was a 46-yard field goal attempt that was both wide and short, a kickoff out of bounds, and a play that looked bad (long kickoff return) then turned good (recovered fumble) but ended up bad (turnover negated by offside penalty). Then there was a Patriots kickoff return that went 47 yards before rookie kicker Zach Hocker made a nice tackle. “Yeah, that was different,” said Hocker of making the tackle. “The touchback would have been great, but getting to convert the tackle and, you know, I had to make a couple tackles in college and finally getting that one NFL tackle out of the way definitely boosts my confidence the next time they bring one up to make the play.”

—When talking to Mike Shanahan after games, he would never give names of players who played well. After giving the caveat that he need to watched to watch the film, Gruden was happy to name names. “Obviously, [running back] Silas Redd had some physical runs, and was impressive, and then [running back] Lache Seastrunk came in there had a couple splash runs, which was good to see,” he said. “From a receiver standpoint, [Rashad] Ross had another big catch. He’s made some big catches all along. [Wide receiver] Aldrick Robinson, he just continues to make play after play after play. Then defensively, it was good to see [linebacker Brian] Orakpo get a sack and some of the safeties fly around. Not only on defense, but on special teams, like [safety] Akeem Davis. I saw him make a big hit on special teams and do a good job.”

If you have any questions about what's going on at training camp, hit me up in the comments. I'll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Timeline

—Former Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams was born on this day in 1955.

Today’s schedule: Practice 2:15; Jay Gruden media availability after practice; players available coming off of the field.

—It’s been 222 days since the Redskins played a game; in 30 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Monday night preseason vs. Browns 10; Final cuts 23; Home opener vs. Jaguars 37

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

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Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

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Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

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What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!