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Need to Know: The week that was at Redskins Park--It's still win and in

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Need to Know: The week that was at Redskins Park--It's still win and in

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 19, one day before the Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills.

The week that was at Redskins Park

A look back on the headlines of the week:

Redskins playoff scenarios—Resting the starters in Dallas?—All of the teams in the NFC East won last Sunday so the playoff scenarios keep playing out based on a three-way tie for first place. The Redskins' simplest scenario is to win all three of their remaining games to get in but they could get away with a loss or maybe even two. The ideal scenario would have them clinch the NFC East with a win over the Eagles and being able to do what the want in the season finale in Dallas.

Carrier out for the season with knee injury—It didn’t look good the moment he went down after catching a pass early in the Bears game. Carrier was obtained via a trade with the 49ers on August 21 after the team lost Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen to injuries earlier in the month. It took him a while to pick up the offense and he caught 17 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. Carrier is still under contract for 2016 but his rehab could extend into next season.

Redskins sign veteran tight end Alex Smith—He was available and he knows the offense thanks to having spent time with Jay Gruden in Cincinnati. His role will be mostly as a blocker but he will occasionally sneak out on a pass pattern to keep the defense honest. At age 33 and coming off of a couple of injuries Smith isn’t a long-term solution. But the Redskins just need someone who can get them through three more regular season games and possibly a playoff game or two and Smith seems to be capable of doing that.

DeAngelo Hall is looking forward to facing "little brother" Tyrod Taylor—Hall and Taylor both grew up in the Tidewater region and both went to Virginia Tech. Those connections led to a friendship that will be set aside on Sunday as they will be on opposite sides of the ball at FedEx Field. Although there is a lot of mutual respect there, make no mistake that Taylor would love to burn Hall for a long gain and that Hall would be delighted to pick off one of his younger friend’s passes.

Redskins WR Andre Roberts could need surgery—A disappointing season could come to an early end if the medical staff decides he should have surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Even if he can play in these last few games his season has not been good. For a cap hit of $3.75 million the Redskins got nine games and 11 receptions for 135 yards. He did provide one highlight with a 99-yard kickoff return against the Panthers but that’s still not enough bang for the buck.

Cousins' 2016 price tag likely in $13-$17 million range—As the Redskins remain in playoff contention their quarterback’s value in a 2016 free agent contract continues to climb and it becomes a topic of discussion. He has a chance to push his earnings to the higher end of the range if he can help the Redskins get to the playoffs and maybe win a game or two. But first things first—they need to beat the Bills.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park; no media availability

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 1; Redskins @ Eagles 7; Redskins @Cowboys 15

In case you missed it

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Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Some NFL players ooze confidence. They thrive on emphasizing what they do well and not speaking about weaknesses. In a game as tough and physical as pro football, some players need to feel bulletproof to survive.

Chris Thompson is not like that. He was one of the stars in the Redskins’ 27-20 win over the Rams on Sunday. He rushed three times for 77 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 29 yards. And while he enjoyed the win, he did not revel in his performance as he made a glaring mistake.

RELATED: JAY GRUDEN NOT INCREASING THOMPSON'S WORKLOAD

In the third quarter, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw him a perfect pass over the middle. The speedy Thompson had nothing but green grass and white stripes in front of him. But he dropped the pass, turning what likely would have been a 62-yard touchdown into an incompletion.

That play stuck with him despite his touchdown runs of 61 and seven yards.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “On the plane ride, getting dressed after the game, this morning watching film, when I was outside at practice, I was thinking about that one play. My first thing I wanted to do when I got out there in individuals with the quarterbacks was to run that route again and catch the ball.”

FANTASY: TO START CHRIS THOMPSON OR NOT?

Instead of reliving his glory, he went to work to correct one mistake.

This is not a lone instance of Thompson focusing on negative plays that he made. He said that mistakes stick in his mind more than good plays. During a few minutes talking to reporters on Wednesday, he recalled going the wrong way on a choice route against the Dolphins in 2015, costing a possible touchdown, making a similar mistake against the Browns last year, and errors that led to sacks of Cousins last year and of Robert Griffin III a few years ago.

“All of those things that I look back at that I did wrong, it helped me become a better player this year,” said Thompson. “I’ve been able to go back and look at that and see what went wrong and fix it now. As of late as I’ve become more confident in what I’m doing and more confident in my abilities I’m able to play better.”

Whatever Thompson is doing to become a better player is working. He signed a two-year contract extension earlier this month. Jay Gruden sings his praises whenever he’s asked about him. His teammates almost universally admire and respect him. In his fifth NFL season, many analysts around the league are starting to recognize him as a main cog in the Redskins’ offense.

It is unlikely that he will change his approach.

“I had to mess up a lot in order to get where I am now,” he said. Thompson will continue to perfect his game by putting his imperfect moments under the microscope. 

MORE REDSKINS: FIVE UNDER PRESSURE VS. RAIDERS

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Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

One of the best offenses in 2016, the Redskins early returns so far in 2017 rank somewhere between underwhelming and underachieving. That does not mean good games aren't coming in the future, however, at least according to head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

"I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better," Cousins said Wednesday. "Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks."

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In the first two games of the season, a loss at home to the Eagles in Week 1 and a win in Los Angeles over the Rams, Cousins hasn't played particularly well. Against Philadelphia, he played poorly, accounting for three turnovers and completing just 57 percent of his passes. In LA, he showed progress. No turnovers and his completion percentage jumped up nearly 10 points. 

More importantly, Cousins shined on the final drive of the game, going 3 for 3 and throwing the game-winning touchdown. It was that drive, and a number of near misses in both games, that has Gruden optimistic. 

The coach called the Redskins passing game "very, very close" to hitting on all cylinders.

"There is a lot we can improve on in the passing game, from Kirk to the routes to the protection. It’s a work in progress, but we will get there," Gruden said Monday. "We have total faith that we will get it done and his numbers will get better."

Considered in a certain way, he's right. 

In Week 1, the Redskins offensive line struggled and Cousins was sacked four times. The run game got nothing going, generating just 64 yards on the ground. Cousins was able to throw for 240 yards, and despite all the turnovers, the offense still had a chance to steal a win late in the fourth quarter. 

In Week 2, the Redskins line blocked better and the run game produced at a high level. Cousins' yardage total was quite low, only 179 yards, but a big gainer got dropped and a few other opportunities were missed. 

Cousins supporters will scream about passes being dropped in Weeks 1 and 2. Cousins detractors will scream about passes missed in Weeks 1 and 2.

READ MORE: KIRK COUSINS' HITS AND MISSES FROM WEEK 2

The truth is likely in the middle. There is a solid baseline of production from Cousins from the last two seasons, and clearly Gruden expects that to come. Perhaps Week 3 against Oakland will be the opportunity. 

"We’re just going to keep sticking with the plan, getting these guys open the best way we can and hopefully we give Kirk the protection and he sees the throws and makes the throws," Gruden said. "But we’re right there, really. I like the group that we have."

The 2016 Redskins finished third in the league in total yards gained. Obviously the team lost a ton of production with the exits of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Don't discount that, or the departure of former offensive coordinator Sean McVay. 

Despite all that, Cousins still has weapons. And talent. He knows he can be better, and knows he needs to be better.

"We have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out,” Cousins said. 

To beat the Raiders, the Redskins will need to bring everything out of the tank. That likely means a 300-yard passing game from Cousins along with multiple touchdowns. 

The quarterback and the coach think the offense is ready, and close to a breakout game. Maybe they're right. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!