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Need to Know: Redskins rookie Cravens has a lot to learn

Need to Know: Redskins rookie Cravens has a lot to learn

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 2, nine days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Walkthrough 10:30; Jay Gruden press conference 2:45; Practice 3:00

—The Redskins last played a game 205 days ago. It will be 41 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 17; Final roster cut 32; Cowboys @ Redskins 47

Read and react—Jay Gruden

Reading some segments of Gruden’s press conference and reacting to them.
“Right now we need [Su’a Cravens] to learn the system – his run fits obviously, his pass drops. His man-coverage skills are pretty good but he still can work on that. He’s learning. He’s a work-in-progress like all these young players are, like everybody is, like I am. So we’re just going to keep practicing, that’s what we’re out here for.”
I think that a lot of fans are too anxious to see Cravens accomplish great things. Sure he got a couple of takeaways in practice last week but he still has a lot to learn. It’s hard enough for a rookie to learn one position; for Cravens to reach his peak effectiveness it probably will take him at least several games into the regular season, possibly more. They aren’t going to want to throw him into positions where he isn’t comfortable. Look for him to get a role that increases as the season goes on and he learns more positions.
“I think [Will Blackmon] had a couple really good days, really. I’ve been really impressed with Will. His reaction time has been outstanding and he’s got his hands on some balls.”
I was surprised this spring when Blackmon said that he had never played safety before with the exception of a snap here and there over his nine years in the NFL. He has been doing a good job in camp but I will be interested to see how he does when they start playing against guys in the other colored jerseys. I’ve been calling him a lock to make the 53-man roster and he probably is but
Niles [Paul] came back a little quicker [from the ankle injury he suffered last August] than we anticipated. We weren’t sure how Niles was going to come back from his injury. We had to protect ourselves and Vernon [Davis] was staring us right in our face and we grabbed him.”
I had not heard that Davis was signed as insurance against Paul not making a complete recovery from the ankle injury that his doctors said was one of the worst he’s ever seen. They also signed Logan Paulsen while Paul was still a question mark. So they wound up with four (so far) healthy tight ends. There are scenarios for all four of the to make the roster but it’s not a given.
“[CB Greg Toler] has been the ‘forgotten man,’ in fact I forgot to mention him the other day when we were talking about corners. He’s been outstanding out here. You know, he keeps showing up and making plays. Had a big interception yesterday or two days ago and a veteran guy who knows routes and can run still.”
Toler has made a few plays out there. I’m still not sure how the player who was signed 10 days before Josh Norman unexpectedly became a free agent makes the roster. They will keep a maximum of five cornerbacks. Toler is clearly behind Norman, Bashaud Breeland, and draft pick Kendall Fuller. I don’t think they would keep Toler over Quinton Dunbar. That would leave Toler fighting with Dashaun Phillips for the last spot and I think Phillips has the edge. We will see.

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Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

While it hasn’t been the best offseason for the Redskins organization in many respects it has been a good one for coach Jay Gruden. In the midst of turmoil over the status of general manager Scot McCloughan, Gruden got a two-year contract extension.

Although the final agreement on the deal came on March 4 in a steakhouse in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, team president Bruce Allen said that talk of extending Gruden started much earlier.

“It was after the season, Dan [Snyder], Jay and I got together and we talked about the game plan because we’d made some changes on the coaching staff as well following the season,” Allen told CSN’s JP Finlay at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

Gruden became the team’s head coach in 2014. His original five-year contract was set to expire after the 2018 season but now he is in the fold through 2020.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Gruden’s record in Washington is 21-26-1, not the kind of record that normally has an organization rushing to extend a head coach. But after a 4-12 inaugural season, Gruden has led the Redskins to records of 9-7 and 8-7-1 the last two years. While by many standards that is a modest achievement, it marked the first back-to-back winning seasons in Washington since 1996-1997. The hope is that Gruden will keep them moving in the right direction.

The extension is likely to be popular in the locker room as players have come to like Gruden’s style.  

“His directness, his sarcasm and at the same time he gets his coaching point in but the guys do like his sense of humor as well,” said Allen. 

It’s not known if Gruden’s extension gives him more authority over personnel. His original deal gave him very little, with first Allen and then McCloughan having the final say in personnel selection and control over who makes the 53-man roster. Some NFL head coaches have final say in free agency acquisition and in the draft while many have control over who makes the 53.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

Gruden does have some informal influence when it comes to the draft.

“He’s got a big role,” said Allen. “First of all, he coordinates all the coaches’ reports and when we set the draft board, Jay will be up there. He watches every player who will be on the draft board and he will have an opinion.”

There is a power vacuum at Redskins Park with McCloughan gone. A new general manager won’t get hired until after the draft and the authority of that GM will have will be a matter of negotiation. It would not be surprising to see Gruden ending up with roster control.

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: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 28, 30 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 20
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 45
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 57
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 109
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 157

Tuesday three and out

1. Maybe Bruce Allen and the Redskins have a master plan for saving the whole Kirk Cousins situation but right now it just looks like they’re stuck without a solution to paying $24 million to a quarterback who likely will be gone in a year. That’s money that could either be rolled over into future seasons if Cousins gets traded or used as a down payment on a long-term Cousins deal. Maybe there’s a master plan there somewhere but right now it looks an awful lot like the organization is just stumbling around in the dark, stubbing its toe while trying to find the light switch.

2. WR Brian Quick will cost the Redskins less against the salary cap than they are paying him. That’s because his contract takes advantage of the minimum salary benefit. He gets the sixth-year minimum salary of $775,000 plus an $85,000 signing bonus, a total of $860,000. Because of the minimum salary and low signing bonus the CBA rules allow the team to essentially discount the cap hit for the contract down to $695,000. The rule is designed so that younger players are necessarily cheaper, at least when it comes to the salary cap.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

3. Allen hinted that the Redskins won’t necessarily hire a general manager after the draft. While talking to colleague JP Finlay he said, “We’ll talk about what we need after the draft from a staffing standpoint.” Not “we’ll search high and low for the best GM in the business” but that needs will be examined. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

And out—Allen didn’t have much to say when JP asked about the stadium project that was a hot topic a year or so ago, only confirming that talks are ongoing. The fact that he had so little to say, not even some platitudes about the desire to build a great environment for the fans. Reading between the lines, this makes me think that a deal is getting close and the less that is said about it at this point the better. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will be term limited out of office next January and the feeling is that he will want to leave a Redskins stadium deal as his legacy.

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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