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Need to Know: Drilling down on Redskins practices

Need to Know: Drilling down on Redskins practices

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 6, five days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day, no practice schedules

—The Redskins last played a game 209 days ago. It will be 37 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 13; Final roster cut 28; Cowboys @ Redskins 43

Drilling down on Redskins practices

I cover a lot during the live practice blogs that I do every day. But the sheer volume means that I don’t get a chance to go into much in depth. So every few days I like to go back, pull out a few entries from the live practice blog and go into a little more depth.
Cousins practicing throwing on the run. Some of his passes are better than others. Still a skill he needs to work on.
Per Football Outsiders he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL when he was under pressure last year. Apparently the coaches observed this as well and Cousins has been working on throwing on the move. If he’s going to take the next step he needs to be able to make a play when things break down. It’s hard to see if he has evolved in his ability to do that until he gets in live game situations but they are doing what the can for right now.
Both Rashad Ross and Ryan Grant made nice catches of Cousins fastballs in 11 on 11 work.
Generally speaking, Ross has great speed but questionable hands. Grant is reliable catching the ball but he’s slow by NFL standards. If you could combine the two, Ryan Ross would be a Pro Bowl receiver.
Special situations are the theme for this phase of practice. After a two-minute drill they went with plays from deep in their own territory. On the first play of that one Cousins just overthrew Jackson on a bomb after the receiver got a step on Breeland.
Even though the play wasn’t successful I liked the play call. You need to use a talent like Jackson to your advantage in these situations. A 50-yard bomb from that field position can really flip momentum in addition to field position. And if it doesn’t work you have to have confidence that you can get 10 yards on two tries.
WR Maurice Harris just ran past Jay Gruden, who was playing an immobile defender, cut across the middle and flat dropped a pass right in his hands. No eye in the sky needed to evaluate that one, right in front of the head coach.
The wide receiver picture is very clear. There are six roster spots and there are five players with NFL playing experience and the team’s first-round draft pick. Jackson, Garçon, Doctson, Crowder, Ross, and Grant are going to make the roster. Then there are seven others who are undrafted rookies. They are all in the same boat, trying to hang on to get a practice squad spot in Washington or perhaps a job with another NFL team. That is, if they perform well enough in practice to earn snaps in preseason games and impress there as well. It’s tough road but it’s their dream.

Tandler on Twitter Instagram

Pierre Garcon getting in some extra work .#Redskins

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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.