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Need to Know: Special teams clinch roster spot for Murphy

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Need to Know: Special teams clinch roster spot for Murphy

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 3, six days before the Redskins open up their season against the Eagles at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

1. I posted yesterday on Barry Cofield’s contract restructure. It should be noted that Cofield did not take any less money in the deal. Basically, Cofield will get most of his 2013 salary up front instead of in 17 installments over the course of the season. It’s good of him to do it and all but the alteration to his contract should be distinguished from actual pay cuts that players like Santana Moss, Josh Wilson and Brandon Meriweather took during the offseason.

2. Mike Shanahan won’t commit to Chris Thompson being the punt returner against the Eagles but he did say he was the “top candidate”. He also said that Santana Moss and Josh Morgan were possibilities. Moss makes sense because he did a lot of returning early in his career with the Jets. Morgan, on the other hand, has never returned a punt in the NFL. He did return a total of 14 punts in his four years at Virginia Tech, a college career that ended in 2007.

3. If you looked at this space yesterday you saw that I predicted what Mike Shanahan would say when asked why the team kept Pat White. Here was what I thought he’d say: “He was one of the best 53 players, we keep the best 53 regardless of position.” Here is what he actually said: “Like I said all along, we’re trying to keep the top 53 players and I thought Pat was one of the top 53 players.” Close, darn close.

4. Shanahan didn’t exactly address exactly why the team cut Chase Minnifield but he did talk about Jerome Murphy, the cornerback who made the team in his place. “That was pretty easy. Murphy is one heck of a special teams player,” he said. “When he has played the corner position, he’s played it well. He’s got speed, he’s got size and he’s been dominating on special teams.” So there you go.

5. And regarding Tanard Jackson, Shanahan said, “I haven’t heard a word. I have not heard one word.” That was the totality of his answer. This reinforces the recommendation we gave here yesterday that you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a resolution here. If he ever plays a down for the Redskins it will be weeks from now, if not months.

Stat of the day

—The Redskins allowed only three backs to rush for 100 yards or more against them last year; Jonathan Dwyer of the Steelers (107 yards), Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants (103), and Ray Rice of the Ravens (121). They were 2-1 in those games.

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Timeline

—It’s been 240 days since the last Redskins game; there are six days until the next one

—Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Packers 12; Lions @ Redskins 19

—Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

Redskins’ practice squad is unique

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Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Need to Know: Five pre-training camp questions for Jay Gruden

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 26, one day before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 206 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 46 days.

Today’s schedule: Players report to training camp for physicals and conditioning test. Jay Gruden news conference 2 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 15
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 24
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 38

Five pre-camp questions for Jay Gruden

RICHMOND—The media portion of training camp gets underway on Wednesday as Jay Gruden holds his pre-camp presser at 2 pm at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center (that’s probably the last time I’ll use the full name of the facility).

Here are some questions we will ask of Gruden as he enters his fourth season as the Redskins head coach.

Will Kirk Cousins’ contract situation be a distraction? This must be asked, even though we know that the answer will be no. Yes, Cousins handled a similar situation just fine last year. But a quarterback playing on a second franchise tag is unprecedented. Certainly, Gruden has to guard against things getting out of hand if the season starts to turn sour.

In his fourth training camp, what is he doing now that he wishes he would have done in 2014? One very visible change has been a reduction in the amount of contact that takes place on the field. Will this continue to decline or, give the issues the team had tackling last year, will it ramp up? What used to be the morning practice and afternoon walkthrough were flipped a couple of years ago. Has there been any thought to changing it back?

How has the adjustment process to having so many new coaches gone so far? The Redskins have new coordinators on both sides of the ball and several new position coaches. As happens when any group of co-workers gets added to a workplace, there is an adjustment period. In the NFL, the coaches have to get up to speed with each other in a hurry.

Will Gruden use the season-ending loss to the Giants as a motivational/learning tool or just bury it in the past? It’s a fine line between learning from past mistakes and dwelling on them. While Cousin should make sure that he doesn’t throw another late-game interception like the one he threw in that game, he can’t have it spook him to the point where he can’t pull the trigger on a pass late in a close game. How Gruden handles the 2016 finale could have a major effect on how 2017 unfolds.

After having one of the highest pass ratios in the league, will Gruden look to run the ball more often? Last year, Sean McVay called passes on 62.4 percent of the Redskins’ snaps. The Redskins drafted a fourth-round running back in Samaje Perine and they may team him with starter Rob Kelley and call to keep the ball on the ground a few more times per game.

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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Is Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL? One analyst says so

Is Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL? One analyst says so

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports declared Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins the most overrated player in the NFL. Prisco repeatedly points out that while Cousins is a good quarterback, the notion that he should be paid like one of the best passers in the league is what makes him overrated.

From Prisco:

After having six 300-yard-plus passing games in his first 11 games, including two over 400, Cousins had one in the final five games last season as the Redskins pushed for a playoff spot. He had five touchdown passes and five interceptions in those games, going 2-3 as Washington folded. It wasn't all on him, but that's the point. I don't think he's a quarterback who rises above situations when the team isn't going right. I am not going to sit here and pan him as a starter. He has proven to be that, and a pretty good one. It's just that the perception is he's much better than that, which is why he's my most overrated player in the NFL in 2017.

Here's the problem with Prisco's login: Simple market economics. 

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

An argument can be made Cousins is a Top 10 passer. He's certainly in the top half of the league at the position. Few, if any, would argue Cousins is a Top 5 quarterback, but his contract situation forces him to be paid like he is. Those are the exact terms of the franchise tag, even before the 20 percent increase Washington paid this season to use a second-straight tag.  

Since the Redskins lost their window to sign their single-season passing yards record holder to a team-friendly deal last year, Cousins has leverage and the advantage of inflated QB salaries on his side.

That doesn't mean Cousins is overrated. 

If the threshold for being overrated is money, then Brock Osweiler wins this thing in a landslide. After the 2016 season in Houston, Osweiler seems unlikely to ever again be considered a starting QB in the NFL. He's due to be paid $18 million this fall and his offseason trade to the Browns will go down as the first-ever salary dump in NFL history. 

Is Cousins overpaid? Probably. That's the way contracts work in pro football. 

Is Cousins overrated? Probably not. He's thrown for more than 9,000 yards and completed about 68 percent of his passes over the last two seasons. 

There just aren't enough quarterbacks to go around in the NFL, and guys who can play the position get paid handsomely. That doesn't make Cousins overrated. 

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