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Need to Know: The Redskins may have to release some cornerbacks they'd rather keep

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Need to Know: The Redskins may have to release some cornerbacks they'd rather keep

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 17, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 189 days ago. It will be 57 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 25; Final roster cut 48; Cowboys @ Redskins 64

Three and out

—The Redskins are going to have to let go of a cornerback or two they would rather keep. The maximum they can keep without creating a major numbers squeeze elsewhere is five. Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, and Kendall Fuller are locks. Quinton Dunbar is close to being a lock. That leaves one spot for Dashaun Phillips, Greg Toler, and rookie Lloyd Carrington. Both Carrington and Phillips have practice squad eligibility but with the position at a premium around the league they’ll want to keep their best five on the 53. The competition will be interesting.

—Rashad Ross could have problems seeing the field much if the other receivers on the roster stay healthy. He could be a kickoff returner as he returned one for a touchdown in Week 3. But he has to be on the game day active list to do that and there are usually no more than five wide receivers on the 46. Going into training camp he clearly appears to be the sixth of the six receivers who should make the roster. He is going to have to work his way up the depth chart if he is going be on the active list on a regular basis. Either that or be so good a returning kickoffs that they can’t afford to keep him down.

—To clarify something that I’ve had numerous questions about, the Redskins and Kirk Cousins now can’t agree to a contract extension until the day after the final regular season game. The team can talk to Cousins’ agent but they can’t send a contract to the league until January 2, the day after their regular season finale. As Cousins said in a press conference during OTAs, it’s “see you on the other side” for both the team and the player. They will have from January 2 until early March to reach an agreement before the team will have to decide whether or not to use the franchise tag again. That move would give Cousins either 120 percent of his 2016 salary or the quarterback franchise tag salary, whichever is higher. It is very likely that the former option will be the bigger salary.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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