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Week 8 Redskins vs. Cowboys Preview: Dallas Week + Must Win

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Week 8 Redskins vs. Cowboys Preview: Dallas Week + Must Win

It took eight weeks, but the Redskins worked themselves into a bit of a situation. It's too early for fans to be totally freaked out, but after a physical loss in Philadelphia, Washington really needs a win.

Sitting at 0-2 in the NFC East, both losses from the Eagles, and 3-3 on the year, if the Redskins lose this week the team will have given up key positioning in the Wild Card race.

And, oh yeah, it's Dallas Week. 

The Cowboys arrive at FedEx Field for America's Game of the Week on Sunday afternoon (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at 3:30) coming off a big win in San Francisco. Dallas has the same 3-3 record, and are 1-0 in the NFC East.

There are plenty of stories to watch, but here are the Top 3:

  1. Watch your health - Any discussion of this Redskins team starts with injuries. Through seven weeks, the Redskins have lost starters on both sides of the ball, and could be down as many as four offensive linemen on Sunday. Spencer Long is out, and rookie Chase Roullier will start at center. Morgan Moses seems likely to play. A report says that Trent Williams will miss this game, which likely means T.J. Clemmings at left tackle. Another report says Brandon Scherff will miss the game, which means Tyler Catalina could get the start. Defensively, linebacker Mason Foster will miss at least the next eight games after having surgery on his torn labrum. Foster joins rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen as Redskins defensive starters now on the IR list. Without even mentioning the players that are listed as questionnable, the Redskins are hurting. One bit of good news: After missing the last two games, Josh Norman is expected to start Sunday. 
  2. Push broom - Dallas swept the Redskins last season. The Eagles have already swept the Redskins this season. Washington needs to break their NFC East losing streak, as well as their losing streak to the Cowboys, and it needs to come this week. Washington will have their work cut out for them, however, as Dallas ranks higher in both yards-per-game and points-per-game. In fact, the Cowboys hold a +23 point scoring margin of the year and have scored 21 touchdowns. Washington has a -6 scoring margin and has scored five less TDs. The team needs Kirk Cousins to produce, big-time, offensively to get their first division win of the year. 
  3. Produce section - Much like last year, the Redskins offense is moving the ball this season without scoring at a proportional rate. Depending how you look at it, that could be a credit to Kirk Cousins, or a reason for his detractors to shout. Washington's wide receivers have been largely unproductive. No 'Skins wideout ranks in the Top 50 in the NFL recieving yards list. In fact, Terrelle Pryor lands 91st on the list, the highest ranking Redskin. Cousins still has the Washington offense piling up 369 yards-per-game, good for 8th in the NFL. Cousins has had to rely on Chris Thompson, Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed for the bulk of his targets. Perhaps it's time for the emergence of 2016 1st-round pick Josh Doctson. It would be a great time for it. 

News & Notes:

  • Kirk Cousins is four starts away from second place in Redskins history with 42 consecutive regular season starts at quarterback since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970. With the start against Dallas, Cousins will have started 39 straight. Currently Mark Rypien sits in second place with 41 straight starts. Joe Theismann ranks 1st with 60 straight starts. 
  • Tight end Vernon Davis is 26 receiving yards away from passing Kellen Winslow (6,741) for the ninth-most career receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history.
  • Through six games, Chris Thompson has 366 receiving yards. Since 2000, only six running backs have that much or more receiving yardage through six games: 2013 Darren Sproles (366), 2005 Brian Westbrook (367), 2014 Matt Forte (376), 2002 Charlie Garner (377), 2011 Matt Forte (381), 2000 Marshall Faulk (462).
  • The Redskins haven't beaten the Cowboys since December 2015.

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Need to Know: Fan questions—What's the plan at cornerback, losing the locker room

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: Fan questions—What's the plan at cornerback, losing the locker room

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 16, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 8
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 15
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 131

Fan questions

Today's questions are from my Facebook page.

I don’t think that he is but it is a valid concern. This is what happens when you lose two in a row and neither game is competitive. As we sit here right now I think that Gruden still has the respect and the collective ear of the players. But if there is another game like the ones against the Chargers and Cowboys, things could start to erode. They are still pretty high up on the slippery slope but things can fall apart quickly with a push in the wrong direction.

First, you go for the best available player but in the first round. If a few guys are close, and they often are, you will tend to go towards the position of greatest need. However, it’s hard to pinpoint the area of greatest need before going through free agency, where gains and losses have a big effect on needs. But looking at it right now and projecting what I think is likely to happen in free agency, I think that inside linebacker could be a good place where need comes together with draft position. To throw out one name, I think Roquan Smith of Georgia might be a nice fit with a pick in the 10-12 range.

I think that Kendall Fuller is best suited to the slot. He has really found his niche there and with receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Keenan Allen frequently lining up in the slot it pays to have a strong corner there. Quinton Dunbar could be an option on the outside if Moreau isn’t up to speed in time. It seems likely that Bashaud Breeland will be gone; he will get a pretty lucrative deal and it will be hard for the Redskins to carry two high-priced cornerbacks.

I’m not sure if they’re sold on the current stable of running backs but I think they are willing to settle for them. Just look at the history. They have not spent a first-round pick on a running back since the 1970 merger. The highest they have taken one is in the second, most recently Ladell Betts in 2002. Since then, the highest they have taken a running back is in the third round (Matt Jones, 2015). I don’t see them taking a first-round back or even a second rounder. Sure, you can find game-changing backs later in the draft, like David Johnson in the third. If they should happen to stumble on such a back, great, but getting one of that caliber doesn’t seem to be part of the grand plan.

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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Redskins Week 15 injury report: Two out, seven questionable vs. Cardinals

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins Week 15 injury report: Two out, seven questionable vs. Cardinals

Redskins linebacker Zach Brown may want to power through his myriad of injuries but he won’t be able to do it this week.

Brown is one of two Redskins who have been declared out for the game against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden listed his injuries as toe/ankle/Achilles/hip. This will be the first game that Brown has missed with the Redskins and his first since he was with the Titans in 2014.

Also out is safety Montae Nicholson, who will miss his fourth straight game with a concussion.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

Listed as questionable are OT Morgan Moses (ankle), OT Trent Williams (knee), OLB Ryan Anderson (ankle), WR Ryan Grant (ankle), WR Maurice Harris (concussion), DE Terrell McClain (toe), and C Chase Roullier (hand).

Williams’ status for Sunday is very much in doubt. His usual pattern since sustaining a knee injury in Week 4 has been to sit out the first two days of practice and then participate in the third. However, he was not on the field on Friday during the portion of practice that was open to the media. Jay Gruden said that he did join the team at some point but he didn’t indicate that he took part in any football activity.

He has missed three games and it would not be surprising if he missed a fourth on Sunday. If Williams can’t go, Ty Nsekhe will start at left tackle.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

Roullier has been out the last three games with a broken right (snapping) hand. He has had the cast off of it for a couple of weeks now and he could be ready to go on Sunday.

Harris was out of the game against the Chargers last Sunday with a concussion. He has been practicing on a limited basis all week. The chances that he can pass the concussion protocol seem good, although with concussions it is always difficult to know for sure.

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.