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Need to Know: First thoughts on Redskins vs. Rams

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Need to Know: First thoughts on Redskins vs. Rams

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 16, four days before the Washington Redskins host the St. Louis Rams.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Rams

—I’m not about to break out the “must win” label here but this is an important game for the Redskins. A loss puts them at 0-2 at home with a quick turnaround to play the Giants in New Jersey on Thursday. Then after a 10-day break the Eagles, who looked like the team most thought they were in the second half on Monday night, come to town. You have to think that the possibility of an 0-4 nightmare start with seven of the final 12 on the road is very real if they drop this one.

—Wide receiver Tavon Austin has not yet justified his status as the No. 8 pick in the 2013 draft. He had 658 receiving yards in his first two seasons combined and he had two catches for minus-2 yards against the Seahawks last Sunday. But he can return punts, as the Redskins learned last year when he took one against them 78 yards to the house. The Seahawks know it, too, as he returned on 75 yards against them. Tress Way had better not outkick his coverage. Better yet, he should angle kicks out of bounds and make Austin try to beat them as a receiver.

—Brandon Scherff did a good job against Ndamukong Suh last week. His reward is Aaron Donald who doesn’t have Suh’s paycheck but he is every bit as tough to handle. He went wild against Seattle, posting two sacks of Russell Wilson and recording a total of nine tackles. In all, the Rams recorded six sacks with Robert Quinn, who will line up against Trent Williams, also had two. And you know that left end Chris Long (vs. Morgan Moses) and right tackle Michael Brockers (Shawn Lauvao) want to catch up with their line mates in the sack department. Kirk Cousins’ ability to avoid taking sacks will be tested.

—The Cousins-Nick Foles duel in Philadelphia last year was entertaining, with the Redskins QB throwing for 427 yards and three touchdowns and Foles going for 325 and matching those three TDs. The Eagles prevailed 37-34; it will be a surprise if the game on Sunday is that high scoring. It should be remembered that the Rams thumped the Redskins at FedEx last year 24-0 with Shaun Hill at quarterback. I’m not as sold on Foles as some are but he’s certainly a significant upgrade over Hill.

—The chatter around town hasn’t started yet but the theme is going to be that the Rams beat the Seahawks so the Redskins have no chance against them. The Redskins may well lose but everyone should keep two things in mind. First, Rams-Seahawks was a division home game and strange things happen in such matchups. St. Louis has beaten Seattle at home three of the last four years under Jeff Fisher but they still don’t have a winning season on the books with him as the coach. Second, the NFL is a week to week league. You only have to go back to last year to remember the talk of how invincible the Cowboys were when the Redskins went there on Monday night. They were 6-1 and coming off of wins in Seattle and over the Giants. But the Redskins won. Again, the Rams could well win but any talk of the Redskins having no chance is silly.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings; no media availability

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 9; Eagles @ Redskins 19

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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

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An ankle injury has ended Terrelle Pryor's first, and probably last, season with the Redskins

As high hopes for the Redskins season seem to be slowly slipping away, the high hopes for wide receiver Terrell Pryor can now officially end.

Jay Gruden announced Monday that Pryor will undergo ankle surgery and be placed on the injured reserve. That means Pryor will not be eligible to play for at least eight games, and considering it’s already late November, that closes the book on Pryor’s 2017 season.

When Pryor signed with Washington this offseason, fans grew quite excited. The 6-foot-5, 240 lbs. wideout went for more than 1,000 receiving yards last year on a terrible Browns team, and most expected that production to increase playing with Kirk Cousins.

It never happened.

MORE: KIRK COUSINS ISN'T THRILLED WITH NFL'S APOLOGY FOR MISSED CALL

In nine games for Washington, Pryor grabbed only 20 catches for 240 yards and one touchdown. What made matters worse for the former quarterback-turned-receiver, Pryor displayed subpar hands, and drops plagued him throughout the season. He was targeted 37 times, and barely caught more than 50 percent of those passes.

As things deteriorated for Pryor, he maintained a respectful professionalism. Eventually his ineffective play led him to the bench and reduced snaps, and in his final game of the season against the Vikings, Pryor did not even land a target.

Signed to a one-year deal, Pryor rolled the dice on a season in Washington to boost his free agent profile in 2018. It didn’t work, and now after surgery, it seems unlikely either the player or the organization would pursue a second contract.

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

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After awful collapse, NFL apology on bad call little more than hollow gesture for Kirk Cousins, Redskins

NEW ORLEANS — Collectively, the Redskins squandered a great road win on Sunday.

The team coughed up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, and allowed Drew Brees and the Saints to pull off an incredible, unbelievable comeback win. 

The Redskins deserve the blame. The players and coaches. But they're not alone. 

The referees made a terrible intentional grounding call late in the fourth quarter that cost the Redskins precious time and real estate.

Kirk Cousins very obviously threw the ball away to stop the clock, and the quarterback was very obviously not under duress from the Saints pass rush.

In no fashion was the throw grounds for a flag.

None. 

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LOSS TO SAINTS

Yet, the refs penalized Cousins and the Redskins. As much as replay bogs down the sport, Jay Gruden had no recourse, the flag could not be challenged, and the 'Skins were thrust out of field goal position.

Late Sunday night, a report showed that NFL officials contacted Redskins team president Bruce Allen to say the call was wrong. Whoop de do. That means nothing, and Cousins knows it. 

"Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.," Cousins said Monday speaking on 106.7 the Fan

And he's right.

RELATED: DEAR FANS, STOP WITH THE 'FIRE GRUDEN' TALK

"This is our careers, this is our livelihood," Cousins said. "It is frustrating when a letter is really all you get when it has such a major impact on the direction of our lives."

Cousins' future, Gruden's future, countless other players and coaches, they don't get to hang a sign that says, "The NFL blew a call."

For the third straight offseason, Cousins will be without a contract, and a long-term deal remains anything but certain. This loss, and that call, could impact those contract talks. 

This loss, and that call, could impact coaching changes or draft strategy too. By dropping to 4-6, the Redskins seem unlikely to push for a playoff spot now. Might the organization think differently of their franchise QB if the team fails to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons? Sure, that could definitely happen. Should it happen? Probably not. Could it happen? It could. 

Don't misunderstand: The Redskins blew a 15-point lead in three minutes. That's abysmal. That's absurd. One penalty flag didn't change that. 

But it was a huge penalty, and it was a terrible call. 

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Cousins played nearly flawless in New Orleans, connecting for three touchdowns and more than 300 yards. His most important pass, however, was one that was harmlessly into the ground, with no intended receiver. 

"I'm thinking, well [Jamison] Crowder and [Josh] Doctson are over there. If I literally throw it over their heads, they're in the area, they're eligible receivers. Not to mention, if I'm not under pressure, it's not intentional grounding," Cousins said. 

It's not intentional grounding. Cousins knows it. The NFL knows it. But it doesn't matter now. 

"The difference between a team that’s patting everybody on the back at the end of the season and a team that everybody gets fired, the difference can be a few plays, it can be a call by a referee," Cousins said. "It's a very fragile thing."

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