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Need to Know: Which Redskins running back will win a job tonight?

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Need to Know: Which Redskins running back will win a job tonight?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, August 29, 11 days before the Redskins open up their season against the Eagles at FedEx Field.

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Five things from Redskins Park:

1. Griffin news fatigue is beginning to set in among many Redskins fans and, I’m sure, many others as well. The latest example was yesterday’s “RG3 is starting” from Adam Schefter and a quick “not so fast, he hasn’t been cleared yet” response from other sources. And now, when we get the “really, really, this time we promise it’s official he’s starting” story, the same analysis and debate will be rehashed and recycled. I guess all Redskins fans can do is be glad that they have a quarterback—or any player, for that matter—that people care about for mostly the right reasons. This is par for the course when you have one of the biggest stars in sports playing for your team or in your town. Get used to it.

2. Keep an eye on where the cornerbacks line up tonight. Josh Wilson is going to go about 30 snaps and will start with David Amerson. When the Bucs go the three receivers, who slides into the slot? Will it be Wilson, who was the slot corner for some of last year? E. J. Biggers, who will probably be the nickel back coming into the game? It’s not likely to be Amerson, the coaches probably want him to master the outside before trying anything different. In any case, if Biggers goes to cover the slot that might be the way they will go when the season starts.

3. If you want to see how the competition at running back shakes out, look at special teams. Chris Thompson can move from likely to lock if he busts a big return. Keiland Williams is solid on special teams; he was a solid contributor last year even though he didn’t take a single snap on offense. Evan Royster plays some special teams and he may need to play them well tonight. Here’s the thing—the Redskins are going to keep a linebacker, Nick Barnett, who does not play special teams. Those teams snaps are going to have to come from somewhere and they could come from a running back, either Williams or Royster. The best coverage man and blocker, not necessarily the best runner, may win that job.

4. It looks like Kedric Golston will be the starter at left defensive end with the suspension of Jarvis Jenkins looming starting next week. I just think the coaches trust him more than Chris Baker, who moved over from nose tackle when training camp started. Golston isn’t going to give you many big plays, but he should clear the way for Ryan Kerrigan, who lines up behind him, to make some.

5. While it doesn’t seem like anybody thinks that four preseason games are necessary it doesn’t look like we are going to see a reduction any time soon. Mark Maske of the Post wrote an article and while he was able to find great support for the idea of shortening the preseason to two games he couldn’t find a popular solution to replace the lost revenue that would result from playing two fewer games. Both possibilities, expanding the regular season by two games and expanding the playoffs by one or two teams, were met with resistance. So four preseason games is something that is here because it’s here and it’s likely to remain here.

Stat of the day

If the Redskins win tonight, they will be 4-0 in the preseason for the fist time since 1985. After that, they missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.

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Timeline

—If RG3 does indeed start against the Eagles it will be one year to the day after his NFL debut and eight months to the day

—Days until: Final cuts 2; Eagles @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Packers 18

—Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Bucs 7:30 on Comcast SportsNet

What impact can Meriweather have on the defense?

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#RG3 situation is like you're buying a house. Money's in the bank, paperwork's set but not official until transaction's done. Will be Thurs.

— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) August 28, 2013

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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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