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Need to Know: Gruden—Redskins 'have a lot of work to do'

Need to Know: Gruden—Redskins 'have a lot of work to do'

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 28, the day that the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 200 days ago. It will be 46 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 14; Final roster cut 37; Cowboys @ Redskins 52

—Former Redskins Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels was born on this date in 1977.

Gruden happy with progress but warns of work to be done

Some notes and quotes from Jay Gruden's Wednesday press conference to kick off Redskins training camp.

—After giving the team a glowing report for how it performed during OTAs and talking about what a good mix of veterans and young players are on the team Gruden came up with the “yeah, but”. “We were 9-8 last year, lost to the Packers at home in a big game obviously in the playoffs and we have a lot of work to do, no question about it,” he said, repeating the reality that he touched on a few times when meeting with the press during this offseason. Redskins fans should feel good if he is pounding the 9-8 concept to his team whenever the opportunity arises.

—Gruden wouldn’t talk about injuries or the PUP list. The team was just finishing up the conditioning best and Gruden said that the coaches would meet (presumably along with medical staff) last night and decide what to do. It’s appears to be a given that TE Derek Carrier will start on PUP but beyond that it's up in the air.

—The coach did talk about G Shawn Lauvao’s situation, saying that he is “very close” to being able to go after missing all of the offseason program with foot and ankle injuries. I think he feels pretty good. I imagine he’ll be a couple of days still but I think he’ll be ready to roll shortly.” So it will be a few more days until the Lauvao-Spencer Long battle at left guard can commence. If Lauvao’s situation pushes it much beyond that Long will start to have a decided edge in the competition.

—Another offseason theme was a lack of concern about the depth chart at running back. That continued in Richmond. “We have some guys in the building we’re going to look at,” Gruden said. He was referring to Chris Thompson, Mack Brown, Keith Marshall, and Robert Kelly. None of them seems like a suitable substitute should Matt Jones get injured or struggle with turnovers. We will see how it turns out.

—Gruden wasn’t asked about Josh Doctson but there has been talk that the rookie wide receiver might not be ready to go full in practice due his ailing Achilles.  Even if he isn’t quite good to go they may keep him off of the PUP list. If a player is on that list he can’t practice at all, not even to the point of playing catch with a teammate. Assuming they believe he will be ready to go soon there really isn’t any advantage to not letting their first-round pick learn what he can while recovering.

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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.