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Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up in 2015

Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up in 2015

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 27, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

Here are five players who need to have a strong 2015 season if the Redskins are going to be successful.

QB Robert Griffin III—How good Griffin needs to be next year depends on how well the rest of the team’s plan comes together. If the defense improves to the point where it is at least average and the running game is frequently used and effective, Griffin will have the luxury of being to make incremental progress. If they give up 27 points per game and average 4.2 yards per carry like they did last year, Griffin will have to be much better for the Redskins to succeed, perhaps an unrealistic expectation.

KR Jamison Crowder—Even if Griffin and the rushing attack perform well the offense will still need some help. I don’t envision much of a role for Crowder on offense but it will be a surprise if he isn’t returning both punts and kickoffs in Week 1. It’s an area where a rookie can make an instant impact. Crowder will need to get a good return to set up the Redskins offense in good field positions once every other game or so. A short field makes both a QB and rushing game that much more effective.

FS Dashon Goldson—He had two down years with the Bucs, no question about it. But why? Bad scheme fit? A player on the wrong side of 30 who is wearing down after eight years of playing a very physical position? Regardless of the reason, the Redskins need him to be better than he was in Tampa Bay. They are paying him $4 million and the options behind him are very unproven.

OLB Trent Murphy/Preston Smith—We know that Ryan Kerrigan will get it done on the left side and post a dozen sacks or so. Murphy, in his second year, and second-round pick Smith will need to team up and produce something close to that on the right. Pass defense starts with pass rush and even if the safety position is a bit shaky solid seasons from Smith and Murphy can compensate for the weakness.

OT Brandon Scherff—He doesn’t need to make the Pro Bowl or anything but he needs to be an upgrade over what the Redskins have been rolling out at right tackle for the past decade or so. Scherff won’t necessarily catch on right away and he will make some mistakes. But he will need to learn from the quickly and become an asset by the time midseason rolls around.

Timeline

—It’s been 181 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 78 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 33; Preseason opener @ Browns 47; final cuts 70

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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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