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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

In case you missed it

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Jay Gruden at Senior Bowl: Redskins 'totally anticipate' Kirk Cousins will return in 2017

Jay Gruden at Senior Bowl: Redskins 'totally anticipate' Kirk Cousins will return in 2017

MOBILE – Jay Gruden provided a glimmer of optimism for Redskins fans freaked out about Kirk Cousins' contract situation. 

"I totally anticipate him coming back to the Washington Redskins," Gruden said. 

The Redskins coach talked from the sidelines of the Senior Bowl where he and much of the team's staff were scouting college seniors. 

Gruden explained he had texted back and forth with Cousins a few times this offseason and looked forward to watching him play in the Pro Bowl. 

Since Gruden named Cousins starter in 2015, the quarterback had passed for more than 9,000 yards and twice broken Skins franchise passing records. 

Some indications of a long term deal for Cousins land in the $120 million range, but the Washington organization also has the flexibility to use the franchise tag this season at a cost of nearly $24 million. 

MORE REDSKINS: Who else might want to trade for Cousins?

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The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 5 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Lions Week 7

0:22 left in Q4, Lions ball at the Redskins 18, 3rd and 10, Redskins leading 17-13

Matthew Stafford pass short left to Anquan Boldin for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

More Redskins: Podcast--All eyes now on Cousins

Tandler: The Redskins had just taken the lead on a nifty 19-yard option run by Kirk Cousins with 1:05 left to play. All they had to do was keep the Lions out of the end zone but the defense was not up to the task. In fact, it was laughably easy for Stafford. The first three times he dropped back he completed passes for 23, 14, and 20 yards and just like that the Lions were in the red zone. It looked for a minute like the Redskins might hang on as two passes went incomplete. But on third down Stafford found Boldin open inside the five and the defense couldn’t get there quickly enough to keep him out of the end zone.

Related: Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky

Finlay: 65 seconds was all the 'Skins defense needed to preserve a win by holding the Lions without a touchdown. 65 seconds away from a five-game win streak, and knowing what we do now, a playoff berth. The Redskins defense couldn't stop Stafford, or Boldin, and lost in Detroit. A gut wrenching loss as the momentum on the Washington sideline seemed incredibly high just minutes before when Cousins ran in what looked like the game-winning score. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!