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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.

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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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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