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Need to Know: Can Kouandjio push his way into the Redskins' starting lineup?

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Need to Know: Can Kouandjio push his way into the Redskins' starting lineup?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 19, five days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 130 days ago. It will be 116 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 75; Redskins training camp starts 70; Preseason opener @ Falcons 84

Hot topics

—Can Arie Kouandjio push his way into the starting lineup? We haven’t seen him on the field yet this year but I’ve been told he’s up to about 325 pounds, up from 310 last year. He has the power and the nasty attitude that the team likes to have on the line. Did he use his year on the 53-man roster to polish his technique enough to possibly push past Shawn Lauvao and push Spencer Long over to center? We will have to wait until training camp to really get a handle on where Kouandjio is; he is one player who needs to be evaluated with full pads on.

—The Redskins over/under for wins has been put out by some offshore books and it is 7.5. I see three games being critical for them in hitting the over—Week 2 against the Cowboys, the game in London against the Bengals and at the Bears in Week 16. If they win two or three of those they should finish with eight or more wins. A 1-2 or 0-3 mark in these key games will make it hard for them.

—Looking back on it after two weeks I’m still kind of surprised that the Redskins got an extension with Jordan Reed hammered out. I figured it would happen eventually but I had fallen into the trap of thinking I had the front office figured out in terms of timing. Last year they got a deal done with Ryan Kerrigan just before the start of training camp and with Trent Williams a few weeks later. So extensions were a late summer thing for this group. In addition, there was no word that that Reed and the Redskins were close to a deal. So in my notes a Reed extension was supposed to come onto the radar screen starting in mid July. But each negotiation is on its own timetable and when it’s done, it’s done.

—I was at Redskins Park yesterday to tape my weekly appearance on Redskins Nation. One thing I noticed is that they are starting the process of installing the new practice bubble. It’s been down since the big snowstorm caused irreparable damage last winter. I’m not sure how long the process will take, it might be a stretch to have it inflated by the start of OTAs next week. Certainly, it will be ready when they return to Redskins Park in August after training camp is over.

— Oh, and Kirk Cousins, the guy who signed a contract that guarantees him $20 million this year over two months ago, still is driving the conversion van he bought from his grandmother to Redskins Park. Ryan Kerrigan’s Chevy Tahoe, the same car he has been driving for years, was also in the parking lot. Something tells me that we won’t hear about either one of these guys filing for bankruptcy after their playing careers are over.

In case you missed it 

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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.