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Need to Know: Crawford's return to Redskins is likely

tom-compton-vs-buf.png

Need to Know: Crawford's return to Redskins is likely

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 27, two days before the Redskins finish up their preseason at the Bucs.

Nickel coverage

Five notes from Redskins Park:

1. There seems to be no question that Barry Cofield will be in the lineup on Sept. 9. When Shanahan was asked about him, he spoke of his conditioning and his cast. Cofield’s fingers will be free when he does wear the cast and that is a good thing when it comes to him dealing with opposing offensive linemen. Although he presumably won’t be able to fully use his hands, any amount of added movement there will help.

2. There is quite a debate going on in the media over who will end up returning punts after Richard Crawford’s season-ending injury. The discussion might be more animated if we each were convinced that a particular player had the inside track on the job but nobody has a good feel for it. Chris Thompson flashed some ability but he is inexperienced and he fumbled twice in the last two games. Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall have handled the job in the past but Mike Shanahan may not want to risk injury to front-line players by subjecting them to that. Skye Dawson may be the best suited of all of them but there probably isn’t room on 53 for him. There are pros and cons to all of them and we’re probably going to wait until the Eagles’ first punt on Sept. 9 to find out.

3. Normally players who are expected to be starters, or even heavy contributors, don’t play in the fourth preseason game. But on Thursday strong safety Brandon Meriweather and cornerback Josh Wilson, both names on the top line of the depth chart, will both take the field against the Bucs. Meriweather will make his season debut and will play about a half. Wilson’s first appearance was Saturday against the Bills and he should play about 15-20 plays. It might be hard to judge how they perform going up against the Bucs’ backups but it’s the only game they have left to get those guys out there into some game action.

4. The players who the Redskins waived with an injury designation yesterday, Crawford and Jeremy Kimbrough, are likely to remain with the team. The other 31 teams will have a chance to claim them, which very rarely happens since they would be claiming a player who is out for the year. If the players go unclaimed by 4 p.m. today they will revert to the Redskins’ injured reserve list. Putting them through waivers has some advantages over moving them straight to IR and the team is gambling that no team will claim them. History has shown that’s usually a pretty safe bet.

5. I’ll probably do a full post on this, but whether the Redskins keep four running backs or maybe six wide receivers will be up to Tom Compton. He is a near lock to be on the 53 as Trent Williams’ backup at left tackle. But do the coaches trust him to play right tackle if needed? If he can, that means that Tony Pashos could be gone and the Redskins can carry eight linemen. That would open up a roster spot for that fourth running back or sixth wide receiver.

Stat of the day

The Eagles are the easiest opening day opponent the Redskins have had since 2001, in terms of wins the previous season. Philly went 4-12 last year and the Redskins have not faced an opening opponent that won four or fewer games the previous year since they faced the Chargers in 2001.

The Redskins should be wary, however. The Redskins, coming off of an 8-8 season, lost to San Diego in that opener 30-3.

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Bucs 2; Final cuts 4; Eagles @ Redskins 13

—Today’s schedule

  • 11:15 open locker room
  • 12:00 Jim Haslett news conference
  • 1:00 practice (open to reporters for first 30 minutes)
  • 3:30 (approx.) Kyle Shanahan and Mike Shanahan news conferences

“A dream come true” for Brandon Jenkins

In case you missed it

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!