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Need to Know: Clarity for Redskins, RG3 remains elusive

Need to Know: Clarity for Redskins, RG3 remains elusive

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 29, the day the Washington Redskins play the Baltimore Ravens.

A cloud of uncertainty will remain

After having a fairly positive training camp in Richmond, the Redskins have not had much go well since returning to Ashburn. To recap the last 12 days at Redskins Park:

—Robert Griffin III was widely quoted as saying he believes he is the best quarterback in the NFL. The remark was taken out of context but that did not keep it from being fodder for blogs and radio and TV talk shows.

—There was a very visible debate involving Griffin and team PR officials over whether or not the quarterback should address the media following the first practice after his “best” comments.

—Griffin and the first team offense looked awful in their Thursday preseason game against the Lions. In four possessions they mustered just one first down and Griffin was hit six times on eight pass dropbacks.

—During that game the Redskins lost special teams captain Adam Hayward for the season with a torn ACL.

—Griffin left the game and it was announced that he was being examined for a possible head injury. Despite media reports that Griffin had passed concussion testing, including one from the team’s own broadcast network, Jay Gruden announced after the game that Griffin did indeed have a concussion.

—Outside linebacker Junior Galette, who was going to be a key part of the Redskins’ pass rush, was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon he suffered late in practice. He was to make his preseason game debut on Saturday.

—On Thursday Griffin held a rather odd news conference where he said that he doesn’t know when or even if he suffered a concussion. He also said, “I just work here” as part of a response to a question about being in the Lions game for four series despite taking some hard hits. A few hours after Griffin’s news conference the team sent out an announcement that he had been cleared to play through the NFL’s concussion protocol.

—On Friday, it was announced that the decision to let Griffin play against the Redskins had been reversed.

The week already was strange before Griffin was taken out of Saturday’s game. And that action robbed the Redskins of a chance to change the narrative.

Had Griffin come in and played well against the Ravens, the conversation would have gone from the tumult at Redskins Park to Griffin and an offense that had turned things around. It would not have taken much, maybe a touchdown drive, a field goal, and a minimal number of sacks and Griffin generally looking better than he did against the Lions. The noise would have died down and the talk could shift to football and preparations for the team’s season opener on September 13.

To be sure, there was no guarantee that such a positive scenario would take place if Griffin was allowed to play. But there was a chance.

But now with Kirk Cousins likely to work with the first team offense the forecast is for more turmoil. If the plays well, Washington will instantly be in full-blown quarterback controversy mode two weeks before the season opener. If he plays poorly, fans and the media will rightly wonder if the team can even match the four wins they got last year. Either that or take hope in Colt McCoy as the savior.

A lack of clarity regarding Griffin has been one of the big clouds hanging over Redskins Park. And it’s not going away.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, 7:30, Comcast SportsNet

—It’s been 244 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 15 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Final cuts 7; Rams @ Redskins 22; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 26

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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.