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Need to Know: The five best quarterbacks the Redskins will face in 2016

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Need to Know: The five best quarterbacks the Redskins will face in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 21, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 163 days ago. It will be 83 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 37; Preseason opener @ Falcons 51; Final roster cut 74

Top five QBs the Redskins will face in 2016

The Redskins will face five on the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL in terms of Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals 34.4% (1st)—Every year I wonder if this will be the season that Palmer falls off but it hasn’t happened yet. He did end the season on a decidedly down note, throwing four picks in a blowout NFC title game loss to the Panthers. But he got them that far and he was solid week in and week out getting into that game.

Andy Dalton, Bengals 31.7% (2nd)—You have to think that Jay Gruden will spend some extra time with the defensive coaches since he knows Dalton as well as anyone, having coached him his first three years in Cincinnati. He was having by far the best year of his career last year when he suffered a broken thumb in Week 13. The Redskins will see Dalton on neutral ground in London.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers 22.1% (4th)—Big Ben is the only one on this list who is a future Hall of Fame enshrinee (in my opinion, anyway, feel free to debate that in the comments). He is usually left off of the list of elite quarterbacks but he’s just below that level. The Redskins will have a handful in Week 1 with Ben and WR Antonio Brown, his favorite target.

Jay Cutler, Bears 8.6% (9th)—You may be as surprised as I was to see Cutler considered a top 10 quarterback but there he is (FYI, Cutler was 16th in passer rating at 92.3). He put a scare into the Redskins in Chicago last year throwing for 315 yards and two touchdowns but Washington managed to hold on for the win.

Matt Stafford, Lions 8.0% (10th)—I think Stafford is an underrated quarterback. I think what hurts his reputation with the fans is that he throws so many passes that some of them are bound to go wrong and they show up on highlights. There also is the fact that’s he’s made a ton of money without a playoff win thanks to the old rookie pay system. But last year he completed 67.2 percent of his passes with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. It seems like he’s been around for a long time but he’s just 27.

Cam Newton is not on this list because quarterback DVOA doesn’t take into account running stats and making plays with his feet is a bit part of his game. I wouldn’t argue if you put him at the top of it. He ranked 12th in DVOA.

[Edit]: Seeing some comments asking where Aaron Rodgers ranks. He is 17th with a DVOA of -1.0%. He's certainly better than that and should be in the top five but the numbers are what they are. He did not have a great 2015.

For purposes of comparison, Kirk Cousins ranked sixth with a DVOA of 19.7%.

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Redskins Playbook: Jay Gruden calls Ryan Grant "Mr. Consistent"

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Redskins Playbook: Jay Gruden calls Ryan Grant "Mr. Consistent"

Few Redskins players draw more heated fan reaction than Ryan Grant. In three seasons with Washington, Grant has never missed a game, but he also hasn't produced much. His career stats: 39 catches for 412 yards and two touchdowns. 

Regardless, Jay Gruden and the Redskins coaching staff appreciates Grant in a way few fans understand. Grant is able to back up both the slot and outside receivers, and knows the roles of all the players.

"He’s really strong, he’s in great shape, and he’s Mr. Consistent," Gruden said of Grant. "Everything we ask him to do he does, and he does it right."

When Jamison Crowder missed time in Richmond with a hamstring strain, Grant stepped into Crowder's slot role. When Josh Doctson hurt his hamstring and missed time, Grant stepped into his role on the outside of the offense.

Throughout camp, Grant has displayed good hands and an adept knowledge of the offense. 

"No matter where he lines up, no matter what we ask him to do, he can come in the core and block the safety, whatever we want him to do, he can run whatever route from whatever positon and he runs at the right depth, perfect angles coming out of them," Gruden said. "He’s just ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s why I like him. I like consistent, smart players and that’s what Ryan is."

Against the Ravens in the Redskins first preseason game, Grant hung on to a tough catch over the middle to give the team one of very few offensive sparks. The problem for fans as it relates to Grant has not been preseason play. It's been inconsistent play in regular season games. 

Gruden believes that could change this year.

"I think people may be surprised with how many balls Ryan Grant might catch. Either way, could happen, I don’t know. I can’t foresee the future there, but I would be just fine with Ryan Grant being the target of a lot of balls."

To state the obvious: Grant is definitely making the roster. Behind Terrelle Pyror, Crowder and Doctson, Grant is the Redskins fourth wideout and one of the few players on the roster that is interchangeable among the Washington receiver positions. 

Grant's career best season came in 2015 when he caught 23 balls for 268 yards and two TDs. Based on his preseason, it seems Grant could surpass those totals in 2017. Much of his early season work has been a result of injuries to Doctson and Crowder, but make no mistake, Grant has been impressive in practice. 

Will it translate to the real games? The opprotunity seems only likely to arise if the Redskins deal with injuries at the receiver spot. 

Last year, Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards, but DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon accounted for more than 2,000 of those yards. Doctson, Crowder and certainly Pryor are likely to be the major recepients of Cousins' aerial prowess. Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and Chris Thompson accounted for another 1,618 yards last year.

Keep in mind, this is the last year of Grant's rookie contract. If there was ever a time to show in games what coaches have long seen and loved in practice, this would be the year. It seems only an injury would give him a major opportunity. If the situation came to pass, Gruden would have faith in Grant. 

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Redskins could have 20 of 22 starters on the field vs. Packers

Redskins could have 20 of 22 starters on the field vs. Packers

The Redskins are getting some of their banged-up players back to health and they will be approaching full strength as they take on the Packers Saturday night in preseason game No. 2.

Jay Gruden said that five players will be out against Green Bay—S Su’a Cravens (knee), OLB Junior Galette (hamstring), WR Maurice Harris (knee), and WR Levern Jacobs (lower leg).

RELATED: Grading the Redskins' free agents

In addition, TE Jordan Reed (toe) and S DeAngelo Hall (knee) remain on the PUP list and will not play.

This means that several players who did not play against the Ravens last week have a chance to see the field. The most likely to play against the Packers are WR Jamison Crowder, CB Fabian Moreau, S Montae Nicholson, and ILB Martrell Spaight.

In addition, Gruden said that WR Josh Doctson (hamstring), OLB Preston Smith (ankle) and OLB Ryan Anderson, who played against the Ravens but suffered a stinger in the game, will have their statuses determined before the game.

MORE REDSKINS: Must-see photos from Redskins vs. Ravens

If Doctson and Smith play, the Redskins will have 20 of their 22 anticipated 2017 starters on the field. Only Reed and Cravens will be missing. Reed said that he anticipates being able to start practice next week and after getting his knee scoped for some meniscus repair, Cravens should be back to play against the Eagles in the regular season opener on September 10.

The starters still must manage to stay healthy for two more preseason games (they won’t play in the fourth on in Tampa) and that’s not a given. And they already have lost OLB Trent Murphy, a key reserve who is out for the season. But for right now it appears that the Redskins are rounding into good health.

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.