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Player Problems Nothing New for Gibbs

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Player Problems Nothing New for Gibbs

Dexter Manley provided big plays and
big headaches

Poooor Joe Gibbs. He just didn't know what he was getting into when he came back as an NFL head coach. Sure, he can manipulate the X's and O's with the best of them, but he has never deal with the likes of today's modern-day player with the dollar signs in their eyes and huge egos. Nope, players in Gibbs' day never created any distractions.

Well, that's what many would have you believe these days. What short memories some writers have. Issues with players, involving money, the law, and other areas, are nothing new to Joe Gibbs. Some examples from Gibbs Era I:

March 1981: Gibbs goes to John Riggins' Kansas farm to try to talk the flaky running back out of his one-year, contract-driven retirement. Riggo greets Gibbs on the porch not long after sunrise with a just-opened beer in his hands. The coach left not having any idea whether or not he'd talked Riggins into returining--and not sure if he really wanted him back. A few months later, Riggins showed up at camp, proclaiming that he was "bored, broke and back."

September 1982: The Redskins, along with the rest of the NFL, go on strike.

August 1983: During training campPro Bowl safety Tony Peters was arrested in the wee hours of the morning in the dorm at Dickenson College on cocaine distribution charges. Peters received a two-year suspension

August 1983: Defensive end Matt Mendenhall, who started every game the year before, walks out of camp.

August 1983: Cornerback Jeris White, who started every game the year before, fails to report to camp due to a contract dispute. He never played for the team again.

August 1984: Mendenhall leaves camp again, this time for good.

August 1986: Dexter Manley ends a holdout that lasted all of training camp by signing a new contract.

September 1987: The Redskins, along with most of the rest of the NFL, go on strike. No veteran crossed the picket line, the only NFL team that didn't have at least one vet participate in the replacement game.'

August 1988: Manley suspended for all of training camp due to a positive drug test.

August 1988: Markus Koch, who was an occasional starter at defensive end, walked out of camp.

August 1989: Defensive tackle Dean Hamel, citing "burnout", walked out of training camp.

November 1989: Starting cornerback Barry Wilburn is suspended for four games due to a positive test for cocaine.

November 1989: Manley tested positive for narcotics for the third time and was banned from the NFL.

August 1990: A quartet of Redskins--Gerald Riggs, Raven Caldwell, Darryl Grand, and Markus Koch--fail to report for camp due to contract disputes.

August 1993: Mark Rypien misses the first two weeks of camp in a contract holdout; Jim Lachey, Darrel Green, and rookie Desmond Howard didn't report until the team had broken camp.

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Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

Despite one-year contract, Gruden unequivocal about Kirk Cousins' position

RICHMOND - Looking at the contracts for the two most important people associated with the Washington Redskins, a clear discrepancy arises. The head coach, Jay Gruden, is under contract until 2020. The quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is only under contract for 2017. 

Some speculation suggested that, given the diverging deals, at some point Gruden might look to develop another passer that's locked in with the Redskins for the long-term. Backup QB Colt McCoy is under contract for the next two seasons, and second-year passer Nate Sudfeld is under team control through the 2019 season. 

Gruden made clear that isn't the case. Crystal clear. 

"We're focused on Kirk," the head coach said. "He's our starter and he's going to get all the starter reps. Period."

Cousins should obviously be the focus. In the past two seasons he's twice broken the Washington single season passing yards record, and his rise has coincided with the Redskins first back to back winning seasons in 20 years. 

As for practice reps, Cousins will get the vast majority. McCoy will get work, and Sudfeld too, but this Redskins team is focused on winning this season. 2018 contracts are not on the coach's mind in July of 2017, nor should they be. 

"Colt [McCoy] will take advantage of his reps, I'm sure he will. And Nate [Sudfeld] will get a few sprinkled in there. We're trying to develop Nate also for the future. But, this is Kirk's team right now, and it's our job to get him ready for Philadelphia and really surround him and make him feel good about the people around him. Trying to get him used to [Josh] Doctson, get him used to [Terrelle] Pryor, we have some new weapons around him, so it's a matter of getting him ready. But Kirk will get all of them."

With a rebuilt defense and plenty of options offensively, the Redskins should compete for a playoff spot this year. Is there a scenario where the team sputters and spirals into a lost season? Maybe. And in that hypothetical scenario, perhaps at some point it makes sense to see what another passer can do. It's a long shot. 

For Redskins fans, know that Cousins is the unequivocal starter. Period. 

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Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

Focus will be on Redskins' tight end depth during Jordan Reed's absence

RICHMOND—The Redskins will be without Jordan Reed in training camp for an unknown period of time. Although his toe injury does not appear to be serious, others will have to fill the gap until he is able to return. And the Redskins just so happen to have one of the deepest tight end groups in the NFL and they added another one with NFL playing experience on Thursday.

Jay Gruden said that the Redskins needed to sign E.J. Bibbs, who has one NFL catch in his career, because Vernon Davis, the backup tight end, has “a little bit of a tweaked hamstring.” Davis, who caught 44 passes for 583 yards last year, seemed to me moving fine in practice after Gruden spoke to the media but he could need some reps off on occasion so they brought in Bibbs to fill in the gap. There is no point in pushing the 33-year-old Davis if it’s not necessary.

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The Redskins have even more options at tight end. Niles Paul is back and he appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the last eight games in 2016. Paul is going into his seventh season and while he is mostly relied on for special teams play he does have a 500-yard season on his resume (2014).

During offseason practices fifth-round rookie Jeremy Sprinkle looked like he had a lot to learn as he goes from a run-based offense at Arkansas to the Redskins’ sophisticated pass-first scheme. He will need to find his comfort level before he takes any snaps in Reed’s place.

The forgotten veteran is Derek Carrier, who now appears to be fully healthy after he missed the first half of last season with a knee injury he suffered late in 2015. He had just two receptions for 10 yards last year in limited playing time on offense.

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Joining Bibbs in the long shot category is Manasseh Garner, a first-year player out of Pitt. While neither player seems to have a shot at the 53-man roster, the Redskins could carry one of the tight ends on the practice squad.

Depth is a good thing to have and the Redskins have done a good job assembling a backup plan at tight end. But you just can’t replace Reed, one of the best few tight ends in the NFL, without a significant drop off in production. The Redskins will let the backups compete and learn in training camp and will keep Reed either on the sideline or doing very light work until he is fully ready to go (and then some).

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.