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Need to Know: Three Redskins up, three down from a year ago

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Need to Know: Three Redskins up, three down from a year ago

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 29, 29 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 171 days ago. It will be 75 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 16; Preseason opener @ Falcons 43; Final roster cut 66

Three up, three down from a year ago

The Redskins have 44 players who were on their roster entering training camp in 2015 but not all of them are in the same situation they were in a year ago. Here are three players whose situations have improved in the past 12 months and three who are worse off.

Three Up

QB Kirk Cousins—At the end of minicamp last year, Cousins was coming off of a season where he was buried at the bottom of the depth chart. In February, Jay Gruden declared that Robert Griffin III would be the starting quarterback. He was assured of a job but his future was very uncertain. Now the only uncertainty is if he will sign a long-term contract or “settle” foar playing for a fully guaranteed $20 million.

CB Quinton Dunbar—Last summer he was an undrafted receiver on a team that seemed to be set at receiver. But some cornerbacks went down during training camp, he stepped up when the team was looking for volunteers to fill in. Fast forward to November and he is lined up opposite Odell Beckham in a game the Redskins need to stay in the playoff race. He will have to compete for position on the depth chart in training camp but he is assured of being a part of the secondary.

OT Morgan Moses—The Redskins had Trent Williams as a fixture at left tackle and they had spent the fifth overall draft pick to get Brandon Scherff to play right tackle. It looked like he was destined to be a backup tackle or perhaps convert to guard. But about a week into camp the team moved Scherff to guard and made Moses the starting right tackle. After a solid season his future looks bright.

Three Down

DL Trent Murphy—A year ago the team had already shown a degree of dissatisfaction with his play at outside linebacker by drafting Preston Smith. Then after camp started they signed Junior Galette. Murphy would have ended up third on the depth chart had Galette not been injured during practice. As it is he is undergoing a position change and it remains to be seen just how he will fit into the line rotation.

LB Perry Riley—Riley was a solid starter at Jack linebacker all the way through the offseason program and training camp. But he struggled, got injured, and lost his starting job to Mason Foster, who was picked up after the start of the season. Foster was the starter during OTAs as Riley watched from the sideline with his foot in a boot. He may be in danger of being cut if he can’t win back the starting job.

WR Ryan Grant—Last year when DeSean Jackson was injured early in the season opener Grant had a big chance to shine. He averaged 45 snaps over seven games but he caught just 17 passes for 194 yards and he made a key mistake, slipping on a pattern in Atlanta allowing the game-winning pick six. Now he takes a step back on the depth chart after they drafted Josh Doctson in the first round. The coaches still love his work ethic but at some point he has to get it done on Sundays.

Tandler on Twitter

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!