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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 29, seven days before the Washington Redskins go to Seattle to play the Seahawks.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins kickoff, 3:30, NBC Sports Washington; Cowboys @ Redskins 4:25

Days until:

—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 7
—Vikings @ Redskins (11/12) 14
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 25

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Cowboys

—The Redskins will be without Trent Williams and it would not be a shock of we were to find out at about 3 p.m. that Brandon Scherff also is inactive. Even if Scherff can play through his MCL injury, he may not be as mobile and effective as he usually is. With Ty Nsekhe still a week or two away from returning after a core muscle injury, T.J. Clemmings, who has started 31 NFL games, will start in place of Williams. He allowed nine sacks for the Vikings last year, although it should be noted that Sam Bradford takes a lot of sacks.

—We’re not even sure who will start if Scherff can’t go. Tyler Catalina was listed as questionable as he recovers from a concussion. If he is out, they may have to start Arie Kouandjio, a familiar face who was signed yesterday. But he should know the playbook, having spent the last two seasons plus all of the offseason and training cap with the Redskins. It’s far from ideal but it’s one of those desperate times call for desperate measures situations. One sign of the quandary the Redskins are in is that the backup who inspires the most confidence is sixth-round rookie center Chase Roullier, who will start in place of Spencer Long. 

—The Redskins should be in better shape defensively. Of course, they are without Mason Foster and Jonathan Allen, who are on injured reserve. But it looks like Josh Norman is set to return from the broken rib that has kept him out the last two games. And Preston Smith, who had to leave the Eagles game with a groin injury, is expected to start, although he may be on a limited snap count.

—The key to the Redskins’ chances will be the defensive front holding up against the running of Ezekiel Elliott. The second-year player is heating up after a tepid start to the season. He has averaged 131 yards rushing the last two games. If Elliott runs that well in what are expected to be rainy and windy conditions, the Redskins will be in trouble. If they can hold him to about 90 yards, which is what Elliott averaged in two games against them last year, they could have a fighting chance on a day where points could be hard to come by.

Prediction: I am giving the Redskins a puncher’s chance of pulling out a win. Sometimes you can get by for a game or two with some of your best players on the sideline. Clemmings for 16 games could be a big problem; for a game or two, maybe not. Maybe they can load up to stop the run, have an intact group of defensive backs keep tight coverage on the receivers, and pull out a win. Maybe, but it’s not likely. Even if the defense plays well, it’s difficult to see the Redskins scoring enough to pull out this one.

Cowboys 20, Redskins 14
Season prediction record: 2-4

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.