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Need to Know: Redskins roster battles looming a week before camp

Need to Know: Redskins roster battles looming a week before camp

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 17, seven days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

Here are a few roster thoughts a week from the start of Redskins training camp.

—Before OTAs, I had Santana Moss on the wrong side of the roster bubble, figuring that a team with a new coach would want to go younger at the position. But then I asked Jay Gruden about Moss after one of the OTAs and the coach was effusive in his praise. “He’s working out hard,” said Gruden. “He’s the first one out there today again, I like having guys like that, veteran guys who are great examples for rookies and also can help you win in big games.” That changed my mind on his roster status. Still, he’s going to have to battle, especially if Leonard Hankerson is healthy enough to play. Words uttered in early June don’t carry much weight when cuts come around in late August. I still think Moss is one the bubble; he’s on the good side of it but still no sure thing.

—Chris Thompson or Lache Seastrunk as the third running back? I’ve been favoring Seastrunk simply on the basis that he’s the current group’s draft pick and Thompson was taken by the old regime. But Thompson has some punt returning experience and although he had a 5.1-yard average, last year’s return unit didn’t exactly provide him or anyone else they tried at punt returner any gaping holes to run through. I wonder if they might try to stash Seastrunk on the practice squad for a year to get him to speed as a pass catcher and go with Thompson as the punt returner and receiver out of the backfield. The big concern with Thompson is his injury history. But if that pops up they could simply bring Seastrunk up from the practice squad.

—It seems likely that rookie offensive linemen Morgan Moses and Spencer Long will be starters—in 2015. But if one or both should break through and beat out the veteran incumbents to win a starting job you have to wonder what would happen to Tyler Polumbus and/or Chris Chester. Would they be kept as reserves? Or would the organization opt to jettison them and their substantial salaries ($3 million for Chester, $2.5 million for Polumbus) and go with younger and cheaper backups? I think that the chances of either one not being a starter are slim but if Long or Moses breaks through I have to think the veteran being displaced will get bumped all the way to the waiver wire.

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Timeline

—It’s been 200 days since the Redskins played a game; in 52 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 21; Final cuts 44; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 60

 Tandler previews training camp

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Cousins believes "a lot rides" on the coming Redskins season

Cousins believes "a lot rides" on the coming Redskins season

RICHMOND—While Kirk Cousins has had a lot of success in his first two seasons as the Redskins’ starting quarterback, he and the team didn’t finish last season the way they wanted to. They lost four of their last six games to finish out of a playoff spot. With the game on the line in the season finale against the Giants, Cousins threw an interception as the team was driving for a late score to win or tie the game. The loss was the final blow to their playoff hopes.

As with any disappointing situation, Cousins and the team must walk a line between learning from the mistakes that were made—and there were many beyond the Cousins interception—and dwelling on the past. Cousins said today that the failure to make the playoffs will help drive the team this year.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

“I think what it does is it gives us an edge, because we stay humble and hungry because we left the season realizing we do have a long ways to go,” Cousins said of the late-season woes. “We do need to improve if we want to go in the direction that we all believe we can. In that sense we’ll take the silver lining that nobody is content, nobody is entitled, nobody feels like we can rest on what we’ve done in the past.”

While they can focus on the silver lining for now, Cousins says that they realize that coming close to the playoffs but missing out year after year won’t cut it. That’s what gets coaches fired and leads to players losing their jobs.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

“We do feel like a lot rides on this season up ahead,” he said. “Hopefully, that gives us a sense of urgency all through training camp to be really focused, and as a result gets the best out of every one of us so that our team can play as well as we possibly can.”

Cousins is playing on the one-year franchise tag. He has been quick to point out that many of his teammates are either on one-year deals or in the final season of a multi-year deal. Cousins is one of over a dozen starters or key contributors who will become free agents in 2018. If they are going to stay around they can’t go 2-4 down the stretch like they did last year.

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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Redskins' Cousins says he bets on the system, not on himself

Redskins' Cousins says he bets on the system, not on himself

RICHMOND—As Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins goes into playing under the franchise tag for the second straight season, the phrase commonly used about him is that he is betting on himself, eschewing the long-term security of a multiyear deal in favor hoping to improve his leverage by playing on the tags.

However, Cousins said that is a misconception.

“I don’t know that I ever bet on myself, I bet on the system, he said. “It has nothing to do with myself. I’m just going out and playing and there’s never been anything but positive feelings. I’m excited to get to work here. As I’ve said, my wife and I love it here and we’re in a good place.”

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Ever since the deadline for him to sign a long-term contract this year came and went without a new deal, Cousins has been trying to debunk the notion that he has a desire to leave the Redskins as soon as he can. Appearing on 106.7 The Fan last week, Cousins said that the Redskins are his “first choice” to be his team going forward. He talked positively about his future in Washington again today after the Redskins first training camp walkthrough.

Although there was talk that the contract negotiations took a sour turn at the end after team president Bruce Allen revealed some of the details of the team’s final offer to Cousins, Cousins indicated today that everything is fine.

“W e’ve done a good job communicating between me and the team,” he said. “We’re on the same page and we’ve done everything we can possibly do to get that settled and move forward. I think we’re all in a good place right now and we’ve got enough to worry about getting our offense playing at the level we need to have a great season so I can be back in future years.”

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

What it really comes down to, what Cousins believes will make things good in the future for him and the Redskins, is success on the field.

“If you win football games, everything else takes care of itself,” he said.

“In the offseason, the ball’s in the team’s court. But from Week 1 to Week 17, the ball’s in my court and I’ve got to go play football well. That’s where my focus is.”

There likely will be more talk of Cousins future beyond the 2017 seas in the coming weeks and months. It appears that for right now that is the furthest thing from Cousins’ mind.

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.