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Need to Know: The light has turned on for Redskins’ Preston Smith

Need to Know: The light has turned on for Redskins’ Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Monday Tuesday, May 17, seven days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 128 days ago. It will be 118 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 7; Redskins training camp starts 72; Preseason opener @ Falcons 86

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It takes some players a season or two to understand the level of work it takes to succeed in the NFL. A select few understand right off the bat; many more talented players never get it and either struggle to hang on or end up out of the league altogether.

Preston Smith didn’t get it during a good chunk of his rookie season. Joe Barry gave the team’s second-round pick a while to catch on but he finally had to pull him aside and talk to him.

“He had no clue what it took to be an NFL football player,” Barry said on Inside the Locker Room on ESPN 980. “You’ve got to tell guys. I sat him down and said, ‘If you want to play in this league, the way you’re preparing and the way you’re practicing, you’re not a bad kid, but you won’t last three years in his league if you continue to prepare and if you act the way you act.’”

It took more than one such sit down session for the bulb to go off but eventually it did for the rookie. He racked up six sacks in the Redskins’ last four games including one for a safety against the Packers in the playoff game.

Smith has continued to impress during the offseason. “Even three months [ago], he was here,” said Barry. “He was working, he was grinding, he changed his body, and he changed his mindset on the way he’s approaching everything.”

Scot McCloughan also praised Smith for his work this offseason, particularly in helping the rookie players who have arrived in the last few weeks pointed in the right direction.

It will be fun to see how Smith plays with a full offseason of quality work under his belt. It probably won’t be much fun for opposing quarterbacks.

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

RELATED: PRESTON SMITH ENTERING VITAL YEAR

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Josh Doctson's short tweet delivers good news for Redskins

Josh Doctson's short tweet delivers good news for Redskins

Josh Doctson’s tweet left 136 characters on the table but he didn’t need any more to deliver some good news to Redskins fans.

The wide receiver was the Redskins’ top pick in the 2016 draft. At 6-2 and an ability to high point the ball he repeatedly demonstrated at TCU, it was hoped he would add a different dimension to the Redskins’ fast but relatively short receiving corps.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

But it didn’t happen. An Achilles tendon injury flared up during preseason activities and he was very limited in OTAs. He was on the PUP list during training camp and the preseason games. Doctson was on the 53-man roster to start the season but after 31 snaps and one reception in two games he was shut down for the season.

Jay Gruden was apparently frustrated by the injury and throughout the season he wasn’t sure when Doctson would be ready.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

But last month via social media Docston sent out some pictures of him doing some strenuous work at Redskins Park. It appears that he was in Tampa today working with Jon Gruden and some other Redskins. The tweet from Doctson came a short time after this picture from one of Terrelle Pryor’s social media accounts was posted.

It should be noted that doing work in shorts a T-shirts does not equal being effective in an NFL regular season game. But it’s a good first step and considering Doctson barely took any steps last year that’s a good development.

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.