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Need to Know: Redskins training camp arrangement is wagging the dog

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp arrangement is wagging the dog

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 16, the day the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

Wagging the dog

The Redskins announced their Richmond training camp schedule for 2015 and there is a significant change from the way they did things last year.

The full practices, the ones with pads and hitting and full speed action, will be held in the afternoon, most of them starting a 3 p.m. In the morning they will do a walkthrough. Last year they had the full practices at about 8:30 a.m. and the walkthroughs in the afternoon.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden liked having the heavy work in the morning, before the summer heat really started to bear down. He also liked the cycle of going over material during meetings at night and then getting on the field and practicing it in the morning. Richmond is also more like to see a line of thunderstorms roll through in the afternoon and it’s better to have a walkthrough lost to the weather than a full practice, which can’t be made up. Unlike Redskins Park, the Bon Secours training canter does not have an indoor practice facility.

It is believed that one of the reasons for the change is attendance at Bon Secours. Last year fans were showing up in large numbers in the morning for the more entertaining full practice. But since the walkthrough is as exciting to watch as growing grass, fans were not staying. With no reason for fans to stick around there were few people around to get lunch at the various concession stands that were set up inside and outside of the games. The city had a difficult time making its $500,000 payment to the Redskins.

So, it appears that the flipping of the practice times was done at least in part due to the financial arrangement the Redskins have with the city. The change happened even though last year’s schedule was probably best for football reasons.

The Redskins’ arrangement with Richmond nearly created another situation that was not in the best interest of the football operation. As of a couple of weeks ago, the Redskins did not have any joint practices with another NFL team scheduled. Why not?

“Well, last year, we practiced against New England because we played them Week 1 [of the preseason] at home,” Gruden said last week. “You know, this year we didn’t have that luxury. So it’s hard to get somebody to fly into Richmond and we couldn’t really go anywhere else because of our commitment to Richmond.”

Houston had previously arranged to practice against the Saints but when New Orleans cancelled, the Texans made the call and will be headed to Richmond. Had the Texans been able to stick with their original plan the Redskins would have been out of luck.

Joint practices are becoming very popular around the NFL; it seems that the majority of NFL teams are taking part in at least one. They give the team a chance to face unfamiliar players and break up the tedium of training camp.

So since the arrangement with Richmond, which calls for 15 days of practice to be held there, precludes the Redskins from visiting another team’s facility for practice is is turning what most teams believe is a valuable part of training camp into a “luxury”. Add that to the practice time changes and you have what should be football decisions being made, or at least influenced, by financial and other non-football factors.

Of course, it should work the other way around. There are some advantages to having training camp in Richmond but if we continue to see the tail wag the dog the Redskins would be better off terminating their agreement and going back to having their training camp at the team facility in Ashburn.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Minicamp practice 1 p.m.; defensive assistant coaches available after practice, approx. 2:45; Jay Gruden press conference after practice.

—It’s been 170 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 89 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 44; Preseason opener @ Browns 58

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!