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Should Redskins' Jackson play vs. Ravens?

Should Redskins' Jackson play vs. Ravens?

DeSean Jackson is unlikely to play in Baltimore when the Redskins take on the Ravens in the “dress rehearsal” third preseason game, according to Jay Gruden. The wide receiver suffered a shoulder sprain on August 6 during the joint practices with the Texans.

At the time it was announced that the injury was only going to keep Jackson out for one or two weeks. The longer time frame would have put him out for the Redskins’ first preseason game on August 13 and possibly the second one on August 20. But the Ravens game on August 29, just over three full weeks after the injury, certainly appeared to be a realistic possibility for Jackson to get some snaps with the offense.

Gruden said yesterday that keeping Jackson out is a matter of finding a comfort level in dealing with his injury.

“He’s got full range of motion it looks like out there doing individual drills,” said Gruden. “It’s another thing if we just don’t want to get it hit again on game day. I think doing the non-contact stuff he looks pretty good. But with shoulder pads on, we’re not going to do that until we feel like he’s 100 percent. He’s not quite there yet.”

Since top-line players don’t play in the fourth preseason game it appears that Jackson will make his game debut on September 13, the regular season opener against the Dolphins. That will be over five weeks since the original injury. But Jackson said that he’ll be ready.

“Won’t have to worry about me at all,” Jackson said on Tuesday. “I’ll be the same person I’ve always been: Making plays and being the guy that brings the energy to this team.”

He caught some passes and participated in individual drills but he wasn’t in pads so it is unlikely that he participated in full team drills. (Teams do not have to disclose such information until the week before the regular season starts.)

It should be noted that DeAngelo Hall, who suffered a twice-torn Achilles last fall and has dealt groin and, most recently, toe injuries since the start of training camp, will be playing. Nobody would have batted an eye if Hall wanted to tap out of this one. Although he will be a bit rusty after missing the last 13 games of last year and the second preseason game this year, he is likely to start at corner when the Dolphins come to town.

Some would like to see Hall’s attitude rub off on Jackson. Although it is always dangerous for anyone but a doctor with full access to all of the to make a medical judgment it seems that he could play if he thought it was important. And with the starting offense in need of a boost after failing to get into the end zone in either of the preseason games it would be good to have their top weapon participating against the tough Ravens defense.

But it is unlikely to matter much once the regular season starts. The season will not succeed or fail based on scoring a preseason touchdown. As Jackson said, he will be ready to play. He and Robert Griffin III have been getting in some work and will continue to do so between now and September 13. Getting another 15 to 20 snaps in the mix might help some but it’s not a make or break situation. And the risk of him suffering a setback, not matter how slight, isn't worth it.

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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.