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Need to Know: Redskins valued Cary Williams' experience

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Need to Know: Redskins valued Cary Williams' experience

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 7, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers in a wild card playoff game.

Five thoughts on the playoff-bound Redskins

—If I had to guess which Redskins running back will be inactive on Sunday I’d say Chris Thompson. He is being hampered by a toe injury and he showed some frustration in practice yesterday. Matt Jones (hip) was limited but he appears to be improving. Toe injuries are tough to overcome quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if Thompson was on the shelf on Sunday.

—The two names to watch on the Packers’ injury list are CB Sam Shields and LT David Bakhatiari. Shields, their top corner and the primary candidate to cover DeSean Jackson, has missed the last three games with a concussion. Bakhatiari’s absence for the last two weeks has created some severe pass protection problems for the Packers; they have been sacked 14 times in that two-game span. Shields and Bakhatiari were two of six Packers who did not practice on Wednesday due to injuries. All 53 Redskins on the roster practiced; five were limited, the rest were a full go.

—There appears to be some hand wringing out there about the return of Kory Lichtensteiger at center. Some are worried about his game shape, others about continuity on the line. But any drawbacks there may be in those aspects are more than compensated for by the improvement in shotgun snaps back to Kirk Cousins. The Redskins were very fortunate that none of Josh LeRibeus’ snaps ended up causing a disaster. On a related note, Brian de la Puente must not have impressed at all to be unable to push LeRibeus aside.

—Jay Gruden said that they brought in CB Cary Williams because the veteran is a plug and play guy. “[We] needed another veteran guy and he fits into the same mold as [Will] Blackmon, Mason Foster and Alex Smith – guys that have played a lot of football where this game won't be too big for them, that they can come in and play significant reps and not be overwhelmed with the terminology or the competition,” said Gruden. “He's a very confident corner.” Perhaps Williams is a little too confident for his own good sometimes but he is immediate depth and that’s what the team needed.

—Trent Williams said that seems like a “normal” week at Redskins Park even though “in the back of your mind you know it’s a playoff game so it’s an emphasis to bring your A-game.” He also said that nobody wants to be the guy that makes the mistake that costs the team a playoff game. “The importance of just any bad play, any penalty, things like that in a playoff atmosphere tens to sting a little more than it does in a regular season game,” said Williams. “Obviously the intensity is going to be sky-high for both sides.”

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:00

Days until: Redskins vs. Packers in wild card playoff game 3; Super Bowl 50 31

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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!