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Need to Know: Redskins will have their hands full with Bills QB Taylor

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Need to Know: Redskins will have their hands full with Bills QB Taylor

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 16, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Bills

—Don’t believe for a second that this game doesn’t really matter to the Redskins’ playoff chances. Record in common games could come into play if there is a tie between the Redskins and Giants when the season is over and Buffalo is a common opponent. The Giants beat them so if the Redskins don’t they will lose a game in that category. Only a few combinations of possible results will have the tiebreakers going that far down the line but the way this year has gone, the unlikely scenarios may be the ones that come into play.

—You look at the list of quarterbacks with a passer rating over 100 and you see some Super Bowl winners like Wilson and Brady, players who have made multiple playoff appearances such as Palmer and Dalton and—Tyrod Taylor. Yes, the former Virginia Tech star who sat on the bench behind Joe Flacco for four years is having himself a very good season. In terms of passer rating he is the second highest ranked quarterback the Redskins have faced this year, behind only Tom Brady. Looking at ESPN’s QBR, Taylor is behind only Drew Brees in that metric among the quarterbacks the Redskins have faced.

—The Bills cut popular running back Fred Jackson just before the season started, highlighting a power struggle between GM Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan. A couple of months ago receiver Sammy Watkins complained to the media that he wasn’t getting the ball enough. Last week there was a report that Whaley’s future with the Bills is up in the air. Now that they have lost three of their last four and are 6-7 and on the brink of elimination from the playoff chase, things could get louder in Buffalo. Meanwhile, it’s pretty quiet in DC.

—Rex Ryan has not brought his trademark brand of tough defense to Buffalo at this point. They are 20th in terms of yards allowed and even worse, 24th, in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA. That represents a major drop off from last year when they were fourth in yardage and second in DVOA. They have suffered a few injuries but no more than most NFL teams.

—The Bills offense is solid. Watkins is happy now as one of Taylor’s favorite targets. He averages 18.4 yards on his 39 receptions and has scored seven touchdowns. Leading the way on the ground is a familiar face in LeSean McCoy, who is averaging 4.5 yards a carry.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Eagles 10; Redskins @Cowboys 18

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

After NFL minicamps end in mid-June, and before the grind of training camps start in late July, players are free to have a little bit of fun and try to relax. For Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins that evidently means a game of Jenga.

Fun at Kirk's 10 year high school reunion!!!

A post shared by Julie Cousins (@juliehcousins) on

The video comes from Cousins' wife Julie, and the caption explains that the couple were attending the quarterback's 10-year high school reunion. Looks like a fun scene, and the Michigan waterfront looks even better.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

For anybody that has watched Cousins on the practice field or listened to him mic'd up during a Redskins game, the competitive outburst is no surprise. Cousins likes to win, period. Even at life-size Jenga during his 10-year high school reunion. 

Obviously, contract talks between Cousins' representatives and the Redskins continue, and likely will until the July 17th franchise tag deadline. Last season, Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 passing yards, completing 67 percent of his passes to go with 25 TDs and 12 INTs. He's allowed to have a little fun here and there.

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