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Receiver Maurice Harris eager to do whatever he can in home stretch

Receiver Maurice Harris eager to do whatever he can in home stretch

Redskins rookie wide receiver Maurice Harris turned 24 on Friday, but Kirk Cousins waited until Sunday to give him his birthday present.

When Harris, who went undrafted out of California, hauled in a first half pass from Cousins, it marked his first career NFL catch. He later added two more, including a nice 15-yarder on third down which required a tip-toeing act on the sideline, and finished the day with 28 yards.

It was an encouraging performance for a guy who was just added to the active roster on Oct. 21, and who was playing in just his third professional game.

"I was a little nervous," Harris said after Washington's 26-20 win. "I'm a little nervous before every game, but once you get a couple plays in and kind of get the flow going, it just kind of rolls from there."

MORE REDSKINS: PRESTON SMITH ANSWERED THE BELL

When asked if the transition from being a member of the practice squad to being a member of the active roster has been challenging for him, the 6-foot-3 wideout answered nonchalantly. 

"Not really," he said. "Kirk's a great quarterback. I just feel [I need to] go in there, do my job, and just be on the right details and everything, and all the little things. I think everything else will kind of just take care of itself."

Harris, who is a cousin of Chargers star Keenan Allen, will compete for snaps with Ryan Grant and Rashad Ross moving forward, as long as DeSean Jackson is sidelined with a shoulder injury. His height is something those other two don't have, however, and neither Grant or Ross registered a catch against Minnesota.

While that competition likely drives him beneath the surface, he made it seem like it wasn't on his mind in the locker room. With seven weeks left in the season, No. 13 said he's focused solely on making the Burgundy and Gold better, no matter how much time he sees on the field.

"Whatever they ask, I'm gonna do it to the best of my abilities," Harris said. "Whatever I can do to help."

Aside from maybe holding onto his receiver gloves, Harris didn't plan on celebrating his memorable day any further. Being a college free agent, he certainly understands the importance of not getting complacent. And the upcoming matchup with the Packers will provide him another opportunity to impress his quarterback and coaches.

Look for him to again try and stand out for reasons other than his extra height.

MORE REDSKINS: STUNNING PHOTOS FROM WASHINGTON'S WIN OVER THE VIKINGS

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Redskins practice observations OTAs 05.24.17—Injured players getting back on track

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Redskins practice observations OTAs 05.24.17—Injured players getting back on track

The skies were dry but the fields were wet and that forced the Redskins into the bubble for their second OTA practice.

Here are my observations from the session:

OLB Junior Galette took a light workload but it was surprising that he did anything at all considering that he is 10 months removed from an Achilles tendon tear. He was sprinting during stretching and he took part in some team drills. It’s early but if he is healthy in September the Redskins’ pass rush could be a force.

Not present were TE Jordan Reed, OT Trent Williams, and RB Matt Jones. Jay Gruden said that Reed and Williams are working out elsewhere and he was vague about the absence of Jones, although he said that it was not unexpected.

Also in good health was TE Niles Paul. He suffered a shoulder injury in Week 8 last year and finished the season on injured reserve. The veteran appeared to be a full go in both individual and team drills.

RB Rob Kelley looks like he lost a few pounds in an effort to become more durable and maybe a little quicker. He also is sporting a new jersey number.

Rob Kelley now wearing No. 20. #Redskins

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P Tress Way is in midseason form. He lofted a punt that landed in one of the light fixtures some 100 feet above the floor of the practice bubble and stayed in it. The third-year player said that he couldn’t do that again if he tried 100 times.

RB Mack Brown faces some serious competition for his job but he is not going to give it up easily. He looked good on some runs off tackle, showing some good speed and quickness.

They rotated a lot of defensive linemen through during team drills. Undrafted rookie Ondre Pipkins got a lot of run at nose tackle and Anthony Lanier played quite a few snaps at end as did Ziggy Hood. Top draft pick Jonathan Allen’s reps were somewhat limited as were those of Phil Taylor. They likely plan to rotate  their linemen a lot throughout OTAs, minicamp, and training camp to try to find a good combination.

QB Kirk Cousins mostly kept to shorter passes but in seven on seven drills he did launch one deep down the middle that WR Maurice Harris went up and grabbed for the nicest offensive play of the day.

Rookie TE Jeremy Sprinkle dropped a pass on a short crossing pattern. As a fifth-round pick he can afford some mistakes now but he can’t drop too many in August.

QB Nate Sudfeld was shaky in the beginning, throwing a few passes at the shoe tops of his receivers. But he did get better as the practice went on, through some nice, accurate passes while rolling out.

Gruden called for a trick play at the end of on team session. Cousins threw a quick backwards pass to WR Jamison Crowder, who was on the left. RB Chris Thompson snuck out of the backfield and he was open along the right hashmark. But Crowder’s pass was underthrown, allowing ILB Zach Brown to break it up.

Brown, Will Compton, and Mason Foster rotated in and out at inside linebacker. All possible combinations of the three were on the field at various times. It will be interesting to see how the lineup settles in when the season starts.

I think that S D.J. Swearinger is going to be annoying to players and fans from other teams. After Harris caught a pass, he was jogging down the field with the ball after the whistle blew. Swearinger came up and gave the ball a bunch to try to knock it out of his grasp. It was more playful than violent but I can see how he will get under the skin of opponents.

WR Josh Doctson appears to be healthy. He turned on the jets to catch a QB Colt McCoy pass down the right sideline. Of course, it’s May and the goal is for him to be healthy in September but it looks like it’s so far, so good.

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Kirk Cousins sounded optimistic about contract talks with Redskins

Kirk Cousins sounded optimistic about contract talks with Redskins

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins repeatedly sounded optimistic about his ongoing contract negotations with the organization, though he acknowledged the talks will probably go until the last minute.

"Deadlines do deals," Cousins said.

Speaking Wednesday to the media after an OTA session, Cousins explained that talks with the Redskins have been positive and ongoing. He also admitted that he doesn't expect a deal to get finished before the July 15th franchise tag deadline.

In 2016, conversations between the Redskins and Cousins largely broke down before the tag deadline. That seems to be a different story in 2017, and while it may only be a glimmer of hope, it's an encouraging development for Washington fans that want to keep their passer. 

"It's been very positive," he said. Of July 15th, Cousins said, "it will be a telling date, as it was last summer."

Over the last two seasons as starter, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards, twice breaking the franchise single-season passing record. In 2015, Cousins emerged in the second half of the year to play some terrific football and lead the Redskins to a division title. In 2016, Cousins never quite hit the same highs as 2015, but was much more consistent and piled up passing yards. 

Redskins team president Bruce Allen said earlier this week he remains positive about a long-term deal for Cousins. Allen maintained that talks are ongoing with Cousins' representatives, and similarly to Cousins, expects the bulk of the talks closer to July 15th.

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