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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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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!