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Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 20, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 192 days ago. It will be 54 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 22; Final roster cut 45; Cowboys @ Redskins 60

A week before reporting, some thoughts on the Redskins

The Redskins report to Richmond a week from today. Here are some thoughts on training camp and on the season.

—Everyone wants to know how much Josh Doctson will play this year and what his role will be. The person who ultimately answer that question is Doctson. It all depends on how quickly he picks up the scheme and running routes (the TCU route tree was not exactly challenging) and how well he does in the early season opportunities he will get. He could end up playing anywhere from 400 to 600 snaps (about 40% to 60%).

—The Redskins may not have broken the bank on Kirk Cousins but they have invested in weapons for him to target. They are fifth in the NFL in cap dollars devoted to wide receivers and 11th in tight end spending. They would be higher at tight end but Jordan Reed’s contract extension has him costing just $3.4 million against the cap this year, a number that jumps to $5.8 million next year and $10.3 million in 2018. It also should be noted that they invested a first-round pick in Doctson, a major expenditure of resources that doesn't hit the salary cap very hard. Only two other teams, the Cowboys and Titans, are in the top 11 in spending in both receivers and tight ends. Cousins will have no reason to complain about a lack of support.

—A year ago there was talk that Bashaud Breeland would be better as a safety than as a cornerback. Some in the organization speculated that he was a more natural fit there. Now he is being viewed as a quality player at the much more important cornerback spot. Although I think the fans and media here overrate him sometimes he is pretty good and, perhaps more importantly, he puts in the work it takes to get better. Along with Morgan Moses he is going to be a member of the 2014 draft class the Redskins likely will want to extend next year.

—If the Redskins were going to sign a veteran running back before training camp I would think they would have done it by now. My understanding is that backs like Pierre Thomas are going to be looking for more money if they are going to have to go through training camp. I guess it’s OK to try to save some cap dollars but an injury would be disastrous. It could bring up a scenario like we saw in 2010 when Clinton Portis got injured leaving Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams to handle the carries. This seems to be an unnecessary roll of the dice but we’ll see if it’s a gamble they win.

—Some were wondering if the Redskins tried out Jimmy Clausen with the idea of bringing him in as a fourth quarterback for training camp. I very much doubt it. The need for four quarterbacks in training camp has pretty much gone away with the abolition of two full practices a day. The throws in the daily walkthough are more like soft tosses so that saves the arms for the full practice. If you have four quarterbacks who need to get work in the one full practice none of them are going to get enough reps. So three arms is plenty. I don’t see the Redskins consider signing Clausen unless injuries force them to seek another QB.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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