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Need to Know: Redskins' offense has to find a way

Need to Know: Redskins' offense has to find a way

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, September 22, the day the Redskins play the Lions at FedEx Field.

Redskins-Lions final checklist

—That the Redskins lost to the Packers was not surprising. That they were non-competitive in the process was. They never trailed by over 18 points at any point in any game last year.

—The good news was that the Kai Forbath injury didn’t matter much since the game didn’t come down to a field goal. But it looks like they might have to go with John Potter again this week as it was reported that Forbath did not kick on Saturday.

—I said it in long form earlier this week and I’ll say it quickly here: there is no way the Redskins should bench RG3 even if he is ineffective today. He has to work his way through his issues. And even if everyone on the outside believed it should happen, there is simply no chance that Mike Shanahan will do it.

—If I had to guess, I’d say Brandon Meriweather plays today. He seemed to be good to go when we talked to him on Friday and if there wasn’t a setback he’ll play in two straight games for the first time since December of 2011. If he can’t go, look for Reed Doughty to start at strong safety with Jordan Pugh active to take some snaps there.

—The other game time decision is on the Lions. It appears that Reggie Bush, who has an injured knee, made the trip with the Lions so we won't know his status until the inactives are announced. If I had to bet I'd say he plays but it's far from certain.

—Yes, it is odd for a starter like Fred Davis to play only 16 snaps at tight end no matter what the game situation is. It’s fine to talk about but all I’ll say is that it’s a long season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Davis play a key role before it’s over. By the way, nobody knows much about Davis’ ankle injury that made him a Saturday addition to the injury report but it will be a surprise if he doesn’t play.

—Not all issues with a football team all of a sudden go away but I don’t think it will take long for the Redskins to start tackling like a real NFL team. It’s simply a matter of the fact that they can’t continue to be that bad.

—You know, even if Griffin can’t run the ball the coaches have to come up with a way for the Redskins to move the ball anyway. There is some offensive talent on the team and the coaches are too well paid for them to fail to come up with a better plan to deal with whatever the deficiencies of the quarterback are. It wasn’t this bad with Rex Grossman.

—There is certainly good reason for Redskins fans to be fearful of what Calvin Johnson can do. But before being concerned that he will dominate and lead the Lions to a huge win consider the fact that he set the NFL record for receiving yards last year and the Lions won all of four games. One man can’t get it done.

In case you missed it

Sunday 09.15

Monday 09.16

Tuesday 09.17

Wednesday 09.18

Thursday 09.19

Friday 09.20

Saturday 09.21

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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.