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Need to Know: Five Redskins with a lot to prove as training camp approaches

Need to Know: Five Redskins with a lot to prove as training camp approaches

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 26, two days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 198 days ago. It will be 48 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 16; Final roster cut 39; Cowboys @ Redskins 54

Five Redskins with a lot to prove in 2016

QB Kirk Cousins—If you need any explanation here you haven’t been paying much attention this summer. He’s on a one-year contract that he could turn into a very lucrative long-term deal. Or he could end up being a journeyman.

RB Matt Jones—With four lost fumbles and a league low of 3.4 yards per carry last year, Jones didn’t really do much to justify getting handed the starting job. But that is what is happening so it’s up to him to keep it and perform up to his abilities. Either he establishes himself as a solid starter or the Redskins will begin the search for alternatives.

C Kory Lichtensteiger—It is likely that Lichtensteiger heard the talk that the Redskins would have drafted Alabama center Ryan Kelly if he had been available in the first round. Combine that with the fact that he missed 11 games with a neck and shoulder injury last year and you have a player who has to prove that he still belongs. He’s probably safe for this year but if he wants to continue his career beyond 2016 he needs to stay healthy and perform this season.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—After signing a big contract extension just as training camp started Kerrigan struggled with an ailing knee and, later in the season, a broken hand. With Junior Galette now out for the season he will be under the gun to come up big to make sure that the Redskins keep the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

S DeAngelo Hall—Hall is undergoing a position switch and he has a lot to learn. At age 32 he has two years left on his contract and with cap hits of $5 million per season his learning curve is expected to be short. This season will go a long way towards determining whether or not Hall can extend his career for a few more seasons or if this season will be the end of the line.

Note: When I wrote the first draft for this post yesterday afternoon I included OLB Junior Galette, who was on a one-year contract and out to prove that he had returned to his 2013-2014 form. Now he has to rehab a torn Achilles for the second offseason in a row.

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

After missing the last eight games, the Redskins brought back place-kicker Dustin Hopkins from the injured reserve and waived Nick Rose.

Hopkins became eligible to return from the IR this week and took part in practice all week. Jay Gruden wouldn't commit to one kicker or the other when he spoke earlier in the week, but the decision came down on Saturday.

Rose played well in Hopkins' absence, making 10 of 11 field goals including a 55-yarder. The rookie Rose had some struggles with extra points, missing two of his 20 attempts, though neither snap/hold combination was totally clean either. 

RELATED: REDSKINS-CARDINALS PREVIEW

Hopkins has the stronger leg and is capable of booting the ball out of the end zone on seemingly every kickoff. With Rose as kicker, at times the Redskins deployed a different strategy where kicks were aimed for the goal line, forcing a return. 

Washington's kicker for parts of the last three seasons, Hopkins has a career 84 percent field goal conversion rate and 94.6 percent conversion rate on extra points in 36 games. 

The Redskins sent Hopkins to the IR after a Week 6 win over the 49ers with a right hip rotator muscle injury. 

MORE REDSKINS: SLOW STARTS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE REDSKINS

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

For the second consecutive game, the Redskins got blown out on the road. First in Dallas, then in Los Angeles, Jay Gruden's team is reeling with mounting questions and pressures about 2018 and beyond. 

The best way to calm down the flames? Get a win.

Washington will have that chance on Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) when they host the Arizona Cardinals. Getting the victory won't be easy, however, no matter how bad the Redskins need it. 

  1. Turn the page - The Redskins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-27. The results have been terrible, and the outcome in Los Angeles could have been much uglier had the Chargers not pulled starting QB Philip Rivers. Still, those games are over, and Washington needs to focus on the Cardinals. Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot "wallow" in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come. 
  2. Get it going - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense had by far their worst statistical output last week in LA. The offense must get back on track, and that means a better performance from Cousins and the 'Skins run game. Against the Chargers, Washington generated only 201 total yards and just nine first downs. Nine, their second worst total since having only 15 first downs against the Cowboys the week before. At this stage of the season, the Redskins defense will not win this team any games. The offense must do it, and that means improved play from the line, the quarterback and the skill positions. 
  3. Make a play - Turnovers can win or lose games, and in their last two blowout losses, it's no surprise the Redskins have been on the wrong end of the ledger. Washington has five turnovers in their last two games, and has generated only one takeaway in that span. (It can be argued that shouldn't even count, as it came on an interception from Chargers backup Kellen Clemens in the final minutes of a blowout.) Washington ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed, and that won't improve with linebacker Zach Brown out this weekend. Generating turnovers, particularly against Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert, should be the defensive focus. 

Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked about preparation before the Chargers game-

We didn't spend last week playing checkers.

News & Notes:

  • Gabbert has been sacked 15 times in the Cardinals last two games. Washington comes into Week 15 with the 13th most sacks in the league.
  • The Cardinals defense ranks in the Top 10 in yards per play, yards per game, and rush yards per game. Despite that, Arizona's defense ranks 25th in points allowed. 
  • D.J. Swearinger, who played for Arizona last season before signing in Washington as a free agent, is tied for fourth in the NFC in interceptions.
  • Jordan Reed won't be playing this week, or the remainder of the season. Washington moved Reed to the injured reserve this week. 
  • Arizona coach Bruce Arians was a college quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1972 to 1974.

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