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Need to Know: Who has stepped to the head of the Redskins' rookie class?

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Need to Know: Who has stepped to the head of the Redskins' rookie class?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 4, nine days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns.

If you need to catch up on what's happening in Richmond, scroll to the bottom for a list of our posts from the last 24 hours. 

RICHMOND—Last week, Jay Gruden was asked if he would hesitate to start a rookie over a veteran player. His answer was interesting on a couple of different levels. Let’s look at the first part of his answer.

“No, that’s not my M.O,” he said. “If you look at the track record, you know in Cincinnati we had a ton of rookies playing for us and I don’t have any problem with a rookie if he’s playing well.”

I don’t think it would be accurate to say that the Bengals a lot of rookies starting when Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator there from 2011-2013. According to Pro Football Reference, Cincinnati had four rookies have roles as primary starters in three seasons: QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green in 2011, G Kevin Zeitler in 2012, and TE Tyler Eifert in 2013.

To be sure, they did have some other rookies who contributed off the bench like WR Andrew Hawkins (2011), C Trevor Robinson (2012), WR Mohamed Sanu (2012), and RB Giovani Bernard (2013). Still, I’m not sure if that qualifies as “a ton” of rookies playing but you can be the judge of that.

He names some names of 2015 Redskins rookies in his second part of his answer.

“Right now, Brandon [Scherff] is taking the first-string reps, Arie [Kouandjio] is making a strong move there at left guard, he’s doing a great job,” he said. "[Jamison] Crowder is making plays all over the field. Preston [Smith] is doing a good job on defense. Kyshoen Jarrett is doing an excellent job at safety. We’re going to let them guys keep competing and if they outplay a guy right in front of them, that’s what competition is all about. We’ll play the best guy."

What was interesting here, of course, was the names he chose to drop. We all know that Scherff is going to start and that Smith will have a substantial role in the defense despite the early struggles he has had in camp. But have the other three mentioned, picked on the third day of the draft, stepped to the head of the rookie class?

WR Crowder has displayed both good hands and impressive speed and quickness in camp. Jarrett has learned both safety positions and Gruden brought him up a day earlier as an option to replace Bashaud Breeland at nickel corner.

"Well, [he’s] got the mobility that you're looking for,” he said. “He has a quick change in direction, he's an athletic kid, and he's smart. He has picked up both safety positions relatively easily and feels good about moving into nickel.”

As of now, the chances of Kouandjio supplanting left guard Shawn Lauvao seem remote. But in 2016 Lauvao’s salary jumps up to $4 million and the team could look to go younger and cheaper at his position.

Timeline

—Redskins Hall of Fame running back John Riggins was born on this date in 1949.

Today’s schedule: Off day

—It’s been 219 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 40 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 9; final cuts 32; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 51

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 27-10 win over the Raiders:

This was the Redskins best defensive performance since 1991. That was the last time they held an opponent to under 128 total yards. They were physical, smart, determined and they made plays. If not for two turnovers they would have had a shutout. Oakland did not cross the Washington 48 without the benefit of a gift. Just dominant. 

With a strong defense, you can do what you want to on offense. I asked Kirk Cousins how much running for a couple of yards a pop as Samaje Perine was doing early in the game helped the offense. He answered in part by saying that the offense can afford to run for a low average per carry when the defense is playing so well. That's true. A punt isn't a bad play when you are confident that you are likely to get the ball back three plays later. 

Chris Thompson just keeps getting better every week. His patience when he has the ball in his hands and his ability to burst into the opening when it's there are textbook excellent. Oh yeah, his open field speed, which he gets to show off after being patient and cutting is amazing. Even the smaller plays, like two near the end of the half, when he wove his way through the cracks in the defense and then got out of bounds after gaining everything he could, are fun to watch. He is the Redskins' offensive MVP so far. 

Doctson showed why the Redskins drafted him on one flash. Nobody is going to give Josh Doctson an MVP award but we did see his potential when he went up and took that deep pass away from David Amerson for the touchdown. Plays like that make you see why the Redskins drafted him in the first round and why they have been patient with him. He will need to develop consistency but in the meantime, splash plays like that help a lot.

It’s hard to find fault in this one. Normally in these posts, I try to find a positive in a loss and something to be critical of in a win. But it’s really hard to find much to be critical about in the immediate aftermath of this one. Jamison Crowder’s muff of a punt certainly was an issue and perhaps Samaje Perine could have made more out of the line’s blocking for him. But from the defense to Cousins to Thompson to Zach Brown to D.J. Swearinger and many more, it was as dominant a game as we’ve seen from this team in a while. Can they keep it up? Tune in next Monday from Arrowhead Stadium and we’ll find out.

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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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.