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Camp preview: Who will RG3's targets be?

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Camp preview: Who will RG3's targets be?

The Redskins start training camp on Thursday. Were going around the team to let you know what were looking for when practice gets underway. Earlier today we looked at the offensive line, now the offensive backs and receivers are up.Anticipated starters:QB Robert Griffin III
RB Tim Hightower
FB Darrel Young
WR Pierre Garon, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson
TE Fred DavisIn the span of a few hours, one of the Redskins soft spots wide receiver became one of their strengths. The team acted swiftly on the opening day of free agency, nabbing Garon and Morgan, who received a combined 28 million in guaranteed money. Although critics will point out that the team still lacks a true No. 1, the Redskins seem to be hoping that a pair of No. 2s will suffice. Griffins third option figures to be Hankerson, a promising second-year receiver who says hes fully recovered from offseason hip surgery, while Santana Moss should add depth and veteran leadership.Key reserves:RB Roy Helu Jr.
WR Santana Moss
TE Chris CooleyWhile Garon, Morgan and Hankerson may appear set to start, it would be premature to count out Moss, who is coming off his worst season (46 receptions and 584 yards in 12 games) since 2002. During the offseason, the 33 year old showed the coaching staff he still is hungry for more by shedding 15 pounds and standing out in OTAs and minicamp as Morgan and Hankerson nursed injuries.On the bubble:WR Brandon Banks
WR Anthony ArmstrongNo position figures to be as competitive in camp as wide receiver, where 12 players are battling for six spots. Banks has been told by Coach Mike Shanahan that he must contribute at wide receiver and kick and punt returner, while Armstrong must rebound from a lost year. A deep threat with speed to spare, Armstrongs inability to beat bump-and-run coverage led to a dramatic reduction in his role last season (7 catches for 103 yards), down from 44 receptions for 871 yards in 2010.Three things to watch:All RG3, all the timeGriffin has navigated the first few months of his newfound fame and fortune flawlessly. But how will RG3 cope when each pass is dissected on sports talk radio, each comment parsed in the newspapers? With all apologies to the President, playing quarterback for the Redskins might be the toughest job in Washington.Captain Chaos set for a comeback?Chris Cooley says the problematic left knee that cut short his season a year ago is completely healthy. But the 30-year-old fan favorite costs 6.23 million against the salary cap and will face stiff competition from converted wide receiver Niles Paul for playing time behind starter Fred Davis. To beat out Paul, Cooley must prove that hes regained his (modest) speed and is the better blocker.Who will emerge from the trio of running backs?Tim Hightower, a Shanahan favorite, enters training camp atop the depth chart. But the versatile 26-year-old is coming off major knee surgery, raising questions about his ability to elude defenders. If Hightower falters, look Shanahan to give Helu (three consecutive 100-plus yard performances last season) andor Royster (two 100-yard efforts) the opportunity to step forward.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.