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Need to Know: Redskins' Kerrigan wants to step up his game

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Need to Know: Redskins' Kerrigan wants to step up his game

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 12, 12 days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

Let’s look at a few more storylines as the Redskins get ready to report to Richmond.

—The Stephen Bowen situation will be interesting to follow. He may or may not be ready for training camp as he continues to recover from knee microfracture surgery he had late last year. If he’s not and he starts off on the PUP list, when will he be ready? When looking at this situation you have to consider his $4.4 million salary and cap number of just over $7 million. Although if they were going to release Bowen or negotiate a reduced salary they probably would have done it by now, either still could happen. The DeSean Jackson deal unexpectedly ate into the salary cap cushion and they still might seek some breathing room.

—I don’t think that anyone would call Ryan Kerrigan, the 16th overall pick in the 2011 draft who has 24.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and two pick sixes on his resume, a disappointment. But, certainly, he could he could be better and that’s his goal. “I’m tired of being consistent,” Kerrigan told the Mucie, Indiana Star Press. “I want to be consistently really, really good. I don’t want to be just consistently average anymore. I want to be consistently good.” Perhaps the Redskins more aggressive defensive scheme and emphasis on creating turnovers will help him get to the next level.

—Last month Robert Griffin III was asked who the team’s prime offensive weapon is. "I think it's (running back) Alfred (Morris),” he said. “With him, defenses have to make a decision whether to put guys in the box to stop him or leave the box light and allow Alfred to go between the tackles and lure in the safeties. I think it will be interesting to see what defenses do against him." Morris could fail to match his 2013 total of 1,275 yards and Griffin could still be right. If teams do put seven or eight in the box to stop Morris, the Redskins could have a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Jackson and Pierre Garçon thanks in large part to wide open spaces created by the threat of Morris. If defenses don’t honor the run, then Morris racks up big yardage. It all looks good on paper; we’ll see if they can execute it on the field.

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Timeline

—It’s been 195 days since the Redskins played a game; in 57 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 26; Final cuts 49; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 64

Matich: Who’s the most underrated Redskin?

 

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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.

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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.