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Need to Know: How big a need is cornerback for the Redskins?

Need to Know: How big a need is cornerback for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 5, 23 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 86 days ago. It will be about 159 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 13; 2016 NFL draft 23; Redskins training camp starts 114

Hot topic

Jay Gruden is worried about the safety position but cornerback is not often mentioned as an area of concern for the Redskins. Should it be?

If the season started today the Redskins would line up Bashaud Breeland and Will Blackmon as the starters and put Quinton Dunbar in the slot.

Breeland is the best of the bunch. He is developing into a good corner, perhaps a very good one, but he is still a work in progress.

Blackmon did a fine job last year filling in for the injured Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall after joining the team early in the season. But he did well by that standard. Is he really a guy you want to count on starting on OTAs? Maybe you can get by with him but the spot is ripe for an upgrade.

Dunbar played pretty well in spots as a rookie last year. It’s nice to think that the converted wide receiver will continue to improve but there really is no guarantee.

Hall has moved to safety and Culliver is still recovering and may not be ready for training camp. Culliver can be a pretty good corner when healthy but at this point it’s hard to rely on him. Even before the season-ending injury he suffered in practice on Thanksgiving Day last year the Redskins never really saw a healthy Culliver.

To sum it up, the Redskins have Breeland, a fill in turned starter in Blackmon, a project with Dunbar, a question mark with Culliver, and Deshazor Everett, a good special teams player who is untested at corner.

Does this mean the Redskins need to draft a cornerback early later this month? Not necessarily but don’t be surprised if they do. While they may be able to get by with what they have they will need to upgrade the position if they are going to build a solid defense. Looking at the list of needs, it's going to take a few more drafts to get that done.

Fan question of the day

The Redskins clearly are slow playing the running back situation. Right now, it’s quite precarious. The three on the roster who have NFL experience all are coming off of surgery. Matt Jones had a hip issue repaired, Chris Thompson had a shoulder injury fixed and Silas Redd is rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered in the preseason last year. Alfred Morris, of course, is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite the situation, the Redskins did not jump at the chance to get in on the bidding for any of the top free agent running backs that were available. And they have stayed away from the group of lesser backs as well.

At the owners meetings last month, Jay Gruden indicated that Thomas is still in the Redskins’ radar. “There’s still some options out there [and] I think Pierre is one of them,” he said.

But here we are nearly two weeks later and still no Thomas. With draft just over three weeks away it appears that Scot McCloughan’s strong preference is to land a back to compliment to Jones in the draft. And if I’m Thomas, I’m going to be very reluctant to sign with the Redskins until I’m sure they aren’t going to draft a back. He doesn’t want to spend the next five months in a competition he’s likely to lose.

So I think they will stick with the status quo until after the draft. If they don’t find a back in the draft they will reach out to Thomas or someone similar and try to strike a deal.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

Stat of the day

The last Redskin to lead the NFL in interceptions was Barry Wilburn with nine in 1987. Since 1990 no Redskin has had more than six interceptions in a season (four times, most recently by DeAngelo Hall in 2010).

In case you missed it

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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.