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Need to Know: The Redskins are setting Cousins up for success

Need to Know: The Redskins are setting Cousins up for success

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 30, 59 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 141 days ago. It will be 105 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 59; Preseason opener @ Falcons 74; Final roster cut to 53 96

I’m enjoying a vacation week in the Outer Banks. While I’m gone I’m presenting a few of the most popular posts from earlier this offseason (Note: A few details may not be updated) as well as some posts looking back at some of the team’s best performances. Thanks for reading, see you again on Monday, June 6.

This article was originally published on April 3.

The Redskins are in the process of doing whatever they can to set Kirk Cousins up for success in 2016.

Despite the predictions of some, they kept veteran wide receivers Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson despite salary cap hits for the two that total over $19 million. Garçon was a big target for Cousins all year long. And Cousins’ transformation from a quarterback who was on the verge of being benched into a confident, competent passer largely coincided with Jackson’s Week 9 return to the lineup after rehabbing a hamstring injury. The absence of either player in 2016 would have made things more difficult for Cousins. They may add another wide receiver early in the draft.

Then they signed Vernon Davis to a deal that didn’t break the bank but is rather substantial for a 32-year-old tight end. He’s not the player he was even three years ago when he caught 52 passes for 850 yards (16.3 yards/catch) and 13 touchdowns for the 49ers but at 6-3 he is a substantial red zone threat. Between Davis and Jordan Reed, Cousins should never have a problem finding a target on third downs.

Although Davis should provide an upgrade when it comes to run blocking, the Redskins perhaps realize that their running game is not going to suddenly come together with Matt Jones and probably either a mid-round rookie or a C-list veteran. Cousins performed well last year despite the Redskins being ranked 29th in terms of yards per rush. It seems unlikely that he will have a top-notch running game to support him this year so the team wants to make sure he has an adequate supply of weapons.

This is shaping up to be a critical year for Cousins and for the future of the franchise. He could well be the first NFL quarterback to play out a season under the franchise tag. One of the reasons that may happen is that the Redskins are somewhat reluctant to pay Cousins over the long term based on one good year. If their quarterback posts a second stellar season like he did in 2015 they will be more than happy to open up the checkbook, believing that they will be set at the most important position on the field for at least the next several years.

With the additions of Davis and possibly an early-round rookie wide receiver to work with, Cousins will have a solid group of pass catchers to work with. Assuming they stay reasonably healthy his agent will not have any reason to complain about a lack of support in 2016 if they engage in contract talks prior to the 2017 season.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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