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Need to Know: Redskins personnel decisions top camp priority for Gruden

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Need to Know: Redskins personnel decisions top camp priority for Gruden

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 24, 14 days before the Redskins open the preseason against the Patriots..

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Training camp starts today so three and out goes out the window and we are back to doing things in groups of five as standard operating procedure. Jay Gruden addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon; here are some quotes and notes on what he said.

—Maurice Hurt was placed on the non-football injury list. “He came in a little bit out of shape,” said Gruden. “We’ll just go from there and make sure we monitor his condition moving forward.” Hurt was not in shape last year, either. He spent the entire season on PUP after getting a knee scope before minicamp. I don’t see any way he makes the roster; in fact, I’m not sure why they are even keeping him now. If he comes back and then gets injured the team could be on the hook for his entire 2014 salary.

—Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and Leonard Hankers were all put on PUP. Asked if he expected Hatcher to be back sooner than the other two, Gruden said, “It probably is. I think he’ll be ready quicker than the others.” Bowen and Hankerson have more serious knee injuries and it will be a while before we even get a good handle on what the status of each of them is.

—His most important job during training camp? “I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1,” he said. “We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions.” Earlier this week I wrote a list of the players I believe are locks for the roster. There are 21 spots up for grabs and 58 players fighting for them. Gruden doesn’t want anyone he released to come back and “kick [our] ass”.

—Gruden does not expect to have any problems motivating his players. “Any time you lose the last one – whether you go 2-14 or we were 11-5 in Cincy and lost the last one – you should have a chip on your shoulder,” he said, referring to the Bengals’ first-round playoff loss. “You should want to get back on the saddle and compete.” He said that the team didn’t bring in anyone from the champion Seahawks so all 90 players on the roster should have chips on their shoulders. The Redskins have seem complacent some seasons even when their performance the year before didn’t warrant it. We’ll see if Gruden can make this a thing of the past.

—Gruden doesn’t have his own mistakes as a head coach to learn from yet so he has to learn from others. “You try to learn from history, coaches’ past mistakes, not only here but every other franchise in the NFL,” he said. “And you learn as a coach. We’ll learn from what we did in Cincinnati, what we did right, what I think we did wrong, how we ended the season, how poorly we finished and what we can do to rectify that.” The last coach gave the impression that he had all the answers and, given his experience, that’s not surprising. Gruden doesn’t know everything but he seems to know what he doesn’t know and that’s a good start.

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Timeline

Today’s schedule: Full practice 8:35; Jay Gruden media availability 3:45; Walkthrough 4:10; Robert Griffin III media availability time TBD; players availability after both practices.

—It’s been 207 days since the Redskins played a game; in 45 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 14; Final cuts 37; Redskins @ Eagles 59

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Report: Cousins won't sign with Redskins before getting tagged

Report: Cousins won't sign with Redskins before getting tagged

There may not be much drama when the March 1 franchise tag deadline comes around. It appears that a Kirk Cousins tag is inevitable.

According to a Pro Football Talk report, Cousins will not sign a long-term deal prior getting tagged by the Redskins. PFT cited a source with knowledge of the situation.

This is not exactly a surprising report. The situation has seemed to be destined to reach this point since minutes after the Redskins’ final game of the season when Cousins, whose one-year franchise tag deal expired when the game ended, was asked if he wanted to remain in Washington.

 “It’s really not my decision to make,” he said. “They chose to tag me and the same is true this year, so if they don’t choose to tag me then I think that question is answered at that point, but right now the ball’s not in my court.”

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Actually, the ball is in his court; he could instruct his agent to hammer out the best deal he can get to stay in Washington and then sign it. But apparently, he will choose the tag, a solid business decision for a number of reasons.

For one thing, if he gets tagged and quickly signs the tender as he did last year he would guarantee a salary of $23.94 million, a 20 percent raise over the $19.95 million he earned last year. If he plays out the season on the tag he would be virtually guaranteed of never getting tagged again since such a move would give him a 44 percent raise over his previous year’s cap number. The number is designed to make a third tag cost prohibitive and it does.

For the team’s part, there have been scattered reports that some in the Redskins organization pushed for letting Cousins hit the open market and letting his value be determined there. But that changed after Kyle Shanahan, the Redskins’ offensive coordinator for the first two years of Cousins’ career and a big Cousins fan, became the head coach of the 49ers. There is no question that San Francisco would make a strong play for Cousins and the most likely scenario now is that the will tag him.

More Redskins: Under the radar issues

Where does this go after Cousins is tagged? The Redskins would have until July 15 to sign him to a long-term contract. It would still take a strong offer for the team to keep Cousins around for the long term.

Team president Bruce Allen seems to be optimistic about getting a deal done eventully.

"I don’t think it’s as complicated as everyone wants to make it,” he said earlier this month. “And we’ll get together with his agent, and I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement."

That remains to be seen. The only thing that seems certain in this saga is that it won’t be coming to a resolution any time soon.

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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Need to Know: Under the radar issues for the Redskins

Need to Know: Under the radar issues for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 21, 16 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 8
—NFL Combine (3/2) 9
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 55
—NFL Draft (4/27) 65
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 201

Under the radar offseason issues for the Redskins

We know the top line personnel issues for the Redskins this offseason—Kirk Cousins, Jackson and Garçon, D-line, etc. Here are some other issues flying below the radar:

Who’s the backup center? Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan is a free agent. That leaves Spencer Long as the only true center under contract. Do they try to bring back Sullivan? Look for one in the draft? The free agent pool is very thin but perhaps a solid backup could get cut.

Guard depth Lichtensteiger also provided some insurance at guard to his absence hits creates a double hit on the depth chart. Right now, the only backup to Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff is Arie Kouandjio. Scherff is durable but Lauvao hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2012. Unless they have more faith in Kouandjio than I suspect they do they will need depth. Perhaps they could spend a mid-round pick for depth this year and then let him compete with Kouandjio for the LG starting job assuming Lauvao moves on after his contract is up  

Need depth at cornerback The Redskins’ top two cornerbacks, Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, aren’t bad. And maybe Kendall Fuller and Quinton Dunbar are good as the No. 3 and No. 4 CB’s although they perhaps should have some stiff competition. But it’s a long season and injuries happen. They have former Seahawk Tharold Simon and Dashaun Phillips on the roster and they may re-sign Greg Toler. They probably need one or two more veterans or draft picks to compete for the last one or two spots.

More Redskins: NFL Mock Draft 3.0

QB of the future? The most likely scenario in the Cousins saga is that he gets tagged on March 1 and if he does sign a long-term deal it will not be until closer to July 15. That would leave the Redskins in a bit of a tight sport, going through free agency and the draft not knowing if their starter at the most important position on the field will be back in 2018. What about Nate Sudfeld? Would he be ready to at least back up, presumably, Colt McCoy or another veteran? If not, do they need to look for one in the middle of draft, or perhaps earlier? If they are concerned about Cousins’ status and Sudfeld’s ability to develop into a starter this needs to be on the front burner.

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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.