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Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins' run game will mix zone and power

Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins' run game will mix zone and power

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 4, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

Three and out

Here are notes and quotes from after Wednesday’s OTA practice at Redskins Park:

1. Although Jay Gruden likely would rather have had DeSean Jackson there for the first week of OTAs last week he didn’t seem to be too worked up over the wide receiver’s absence. “They have lives,” said Gruden. “This is a major part of what they do. Obviously, we’d loved everyone to be here, 100 percent. I don’t know how many teams have a hundred percent, but I think we’ve had great participation overall from top to bottom of our roster. He missed a little bit of time, but he had reasons for it.”

2. It was noted that Josh LeRibeus did some reps at center during team drills. They are in need of a backup after Chris Chester was let go last week. “It’s important. It really is, because that’s one thing that we’re missing with Chris,” said Gruden. “If something were to happen to Kory [Lichtensteiger] in a game, Chris was our backup center. So we have to train another guy to be a center and Josh is taking the right steps to do that. We’ll have some backup centers in-house if something were to happen long-term, but it’s important on gameday that we have a backup center. Right now, Josh is working hard at it. Spencer Long is also working at it. We have to have that covered.”

3. After a few months of talk of the Redskins shifting to the power running game, Gruden wants it to be known that the team will be versatile on the ground. “We’re going to do both. We’re not going to abandon the outside zone,” he said. “Alfred Morris is a great outside zone runner. He’s a great zone runner. I think the ability to do a little bit of both is very, very important to keep defenses off-balance. Spencer is a very powerful man and very good for the power running game, the gap-style blocking, but he also has some great movement skills.”

Out: As noted in yesterday’s practice report, the Redskins defenders have a lot to learn with the team lining up in multiple looks form snap to snap. Defensive coordinator is pleased with the process. “It’s definitely a process, and we’re in the fifth OTA of the offseason,” he said. “We have good plays during the day and we have bad plays during the day, but that’s what we’re here for – we’re teachers. That’s the No. 1 thing that as a coach you have got to do, you have got to teach. It’s definitely a process, but like I said, there is a lot more good out there right now than bad and I’m very happy with where we are at as a unit.”

Timeline

—It’s been 158 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 101 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 12; Redskins training camp starts 56; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 112

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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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.