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Need to Know: RG3 under the microscope

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Need to Know: RG3 under the microscope

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 11, two days before the Washington Redskins visit the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

Nickel coverage

Five items of interest from Redskins Park:

1. You normally don’t think of nose tackle Barry Cofield when you think of reasons why outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are having good years. After all, Cofield plays in the very middle of the trenches while the linebackers play more on the edge. But Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says that the nose can help the outside rushers a great deal and, particularly, vice versa:

You know, typically the 3-4 is predicated on the pressure players from the edge and then the ability for that nose tackle to create mismatches inside. A lot of times teams will take their offensive tackles and send them out and block the real good rushers outside and typically that leaves that nose tackle with a single block inside. When you have a guy who is threatening in there and can present some problems for you in those one-on-one matchups, it really makes the defense difficult.”

2. I don’t think that any fans need to be told that the Redskins’ special teams have been far from special to this point. The kicking teams regulars like Darrel Young didn’t really need to be told, either but they did get some words when they were on their way out the door for their bye:

Special teams, special teams. What can we do to put our offense and defense in better position. You can't go 80 yards every time you have a drive. The blocked punt, the missed field goals, the missed tackles in the open field. Everything was addressed before the bye week, by Shanahan and the special teams coach, they told us what they expect of us.

3. Robert Griffin III knows that he is under the microscope after his injury. He said that he has dealt with such scrutiny before, even tough the spotlight is not quite as bright at Baylor as it is in the NFL with the Redskins.

Mentally you have to prepare for that kind of scrutiny. I had to deal with that when I came back from the injury in college. There’s going to be naysayers, there’s going to be people that doubt you and say you shouldn’t have come back so soon or this and that. You just can’t worry about those kinds of things. We did not expect the year to start off the way it did as far as going 1-3, but as far as some of the scrutiny that comes with it, you kind of have to be prepared for that kind of stuff – whenever people build you up so high, they’re just waiting to cut you down.

4. How different might things be in the NFC East if Dallas tight end Jason Witten had been a Saint? Jim Haslett talks about Witten and how he had his eye on him when Haslett was head coach of the Saints:

He’s deceivingly fast. I think he’s a great route runner. He does a good job pushing off. He’s an excellent pass blocker. He’s one of my favorite guys to watch play. Even when I was with the Saints and he was with the University of Tennessee, we were going to draft him. I thought the guy was going to be an outstanding player and he’s turned into it. And he’s consistently the same guy from year one to now. I don’t see any drop-off.

5. With the air in NFL stadiums filling up with footballs are defenses sending more players after the passer to try to combat the aerial circus? We asked Kyle Shanahan:

I don’t know if they are doing more this year than usual, especially around the league. I look at it as a week-to-week deal. I haven’t really sensed much more or any difference than the rest of my career. I have said, and we got blitzed the least amount last year that I’ve ever been close to a part of, but before that, the blitz has been the same pretty much my whole career. It depends what teams you play, what coordinators you play, and what they believe in.


Injury outlook

Based on the injury report (here is Wednesday’s; we didn’t post a new one Thursday because it was identical) here is what I think the designations will be when they come out later today:

Probable: TE Jordan Reed (thigh), TE Fred Davis (ankle), K Kai Forbath (groin), RB Alfred Morris (ribs)

Questionable: TE Logan Paulsen (knee), LB Brandon Jenkins (ankle)

Doubtful: DL Chris Neild (calf)

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Cowboys 2; Bears @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Broncos 16

—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:50; player availability and Mike Shanahan news conference after practice (approx. 1:30)

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offenseDoes Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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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