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Practice report: RG3 sharp

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Practice report: RG3 sharp

RICHMOND—Here’s my look at today’s Redskins practice, first with a look at Robert Griffin III’s day and then a walk around a few other notable events.

(Note: just to mix it up we're shifting back to the old school, non-Twitter report for the last practice report of the year.

—Griffin looks none the worse for wear the day after his rigorous 16-rep day on Wednesday. Well, OK, it really wasn’t all that tough.

—In position drills, passing to receivers covered by nobody, Griffin looks sharp. Earlier in camp he seemed like he was using his arm more and his (right) plant leg less. Now he is driving off of the injured leg more and using his arm less. That’s helping his velocity and accuracy. And, most important, it’s a sign that the knee is rounding into shape.

—Griffin’s first set of four reps in 11 on 11 includes two handoffs to Alfred Morris and two passes. One pass is a dumpoff to Roy Helu and the other is a nice dart to Josh Morgan, who was about 25 yards downfield on the numbers. He executed the handoffs perfectly, for the record.

—In between reps, Griffin stands by Kyle Shanahan but seems to be focused more on what he needs to do the next time he’s behind center rather than paying close attention to what’s going on when he is out. In other words, he’s not doing as many as many “mental reps”, he’s more thinking about his own reps.

—The highlight of RG3’s second set is a play-action bootleg pass to Fred Davis. Griffin hit him on the move about 15 yards downfield.

—The next time he was out there it was just for one play but it was a good one. He hit Josh Morgan on a deep post, the pass right on the money. At this point Griffin is four of four.

—Griffin doubled his number of completions the next time out. He was four for four, all of them in the five- to 10-yard range.

—In a goal line set, Griffin gets two snaps. On the first one he hands off to Alfred Morris. The next one was the play-action bootleg and he found Davis in the back of the end zone for his first “touchdown” of 11 on 11 drills.

—After hitting Aldrick Robinson for 19 yards after a play fake, Griffin had taken 17 snaps and was 10 for 10.

—It was in the next set that Griffin threw his first incompletion. He went for Pierre Garçon on an out pattern but the pass was way wide.

—A little bit later on, Griffin hit Garçon on that sideline patter and that was his last play of the day. In 21 snaps he was 14 of 15 for (per John Keim of ESPN and Zac Boyer of the Free Lance Star) 179 yards with the one touchdown.

In some other notable happenings:

—It’s apparent that the defense has been instructed to go extra hard after the ball when a rookie gets a carry. After one Jawan Jamison carry the defense swarmed around him, tugging and punching at the ball. They kept it up every time Jamison got the ball and when Chris Thompson got it although it didn’t seem that Thompson was treated quite as roughly as Jamison.

—The highlight catch of the day came when Kirk Cousins went to Leonard Hankerson on a deep post. Both the receiver and the defensive back (who couldn’t be identified because the defenders were wearing bibs as the emulated the Steelers defense) got their hands on the ball. Hankerson snatched it away and rolled downfield.

—Later Cousins threw a pass intended for Jordan Reed that newly acquired linebacker Quan Sturdivant tipped and intercepted. Nice play but Reed needs to learn how to play defensive back when he needs to. He didn’t make much of an effort to knock the pass down.

—Speaking of receivers who don’t try to knock down passes a defender is about to catch, Dezmon Briscoe had better pick up his level of hustle. He turned into a spectator on interceptions by Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford. He gave just no effort at all to break up the pass.

—Your know, since Griffin started running in 11 on 11, the seven on seven drills have gone away. They didn’t do any of them last year either. The Redskins, Kyle Shanahan in particular, don’t like seven on seven, they’d rather run the whole team to simulate the offense. Assuming Griffin is healthy, next year I don’t think we’ll see seven on sevens at the Bon Secours training center.

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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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