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The Week That Was: Can the NFL protect players from themselves?

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The Week That Was: Can the NFL protect players from themselves?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 25, four days before the Redskins finish up their preseason against the Bucs.

That Was The Week That Was

—Yeah, it’s dumb for the NFL to fine RG3 $10,000 for wearing an “Operation Patience” T-shirt during warmups before last Monday night’s preseason game. But here’s the thing—if the league doesn’t control what players wear on the field you could see all kinds of shirts with all kinds of messages out there. There could be ads, personal statements, political statements, slogans of highly questionable taste, and the like. The NFL just needs to have a zero-tolerance policy over non-conforming apparel. The players have plenty of time during the week to express themselves.

—The story of London Fletcher’s concussion and him talking about getting his “bell run” has led some to talk about what more the NFL can do to convince players to take head injuries more seriously. But it’s possible that the league has done nearly all it can do. You can’t do much to protect players who don’t want to protect themselves. If you are designing a cruise ship, you can only make the railing around the deck so high. If passengers are determined to climb on it and play around or jump in the ocean there isn’t much you can do. All you can do is take reasonable precautions, i. e. build a railing that prevents anyone from accidentally going overboard, and hope for the best from there.

—I’m not sure that Chris Thompson was ever on the bubble, not even after he fumbled for the second time in two games in the third quarter. But if he was, a pair of events moved him off of it and into the “nearly safe” category. The first was the knee injury that knocked Richard Crawford, who was set to be the team’s top punt returner, out for the season. The second was Thompson’s own 31-yard punt return later in the game. Problem created then problem solved.

—It was good to see Roy Helu Jr. running strong, picking up 70 yards on 13 carries. It was not good to see him still in the game carrying the ball in the third quarter. I’m not sure the “injury prone” label fits him—he didn’t miss a game due to injury in four years at Nebraska—but there’s no sense in tempting fate when he’s obviously ready to play

—Nick Barnett made his Redskins debut after the defensive starters exited the game in the second quarter. If you blinked you missed it; the veteran played just 16 snaps and registered one tackle. Still, he is likely to be on the 53-man roster as experience counts at inside linebacker.

—NFL teams have to cut down to a maximum of 75 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Although we might hear about one or two cuts prior to that time, look to hear about the Redskins’ cuts right near the deadline. Mike Shanahan will sometimes wait until after practice on the cut down date ends before going in and submitting the waiver requests to the league.

In case you missed it

Here are links to all 37 Redskins posts from the past week from here and CSNwashington.com.

Sunday 08.18

Monday 08.19

Tuesday 08.20

Wednesday 08.21

Thursday 08.22

Friday 08.23

Saturday 08.24

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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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In case you missed it