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Need to Know: How significant is Redskins rookie camp?

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Need to Know: How significant is Redskins rookie camp?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 15, nine days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 126 days ago. It will be 120 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 9; Redskins training camp starts 74; Preseason opener @ Falcons 89

Hot topics

—I enjoyed having a discussion with JP and Tarik about the Redskins the other day. One of the things we hit on was the popular perception that Kirk Cousins was bad in the first half of the season. I say it was more like six and a half games, up until halftime of the Bucs game in Week 7. And even during his “bad” stretch he completed 85 percent of his passes against the Rams and led a late drive for a comeback win over the Eagles. He’s far from elite but 75% of the QBs in the league would love to have the numbers Cousins put up in, say, the Jets game as their worst performance of the year.

—Cousins’ passer rating in that game was 57.9, his lowest of the season. In the 2015 regular and post season quarterbacks threw at least 20 passes in a game and had a passer rating of lower than 57.9 a total of 41 times. Among them were Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Joe Flacco. Passer rating is not the end all of rating quarterbacks' performances but it is at least an indicator.

—I enjoy watching rookie minicamp but it’s hard to determine a whole lot from practices like these. It’s not so much that they are rookies, although the presence of the tryout players can muddle what things look like. It more that they are practicing in helmets and shorts. In case you’re wondering, that’s not football. It’s particularly hard to figure out what the capabilities of linemen are on both sides of the ball. And, really, how much can you tell about a running back if you can’t see how he reacts to contact? You get the idea. I was there, I observed and passed along some of my observations but don’t look for any sort of lasting significance.

—So you get down to stuff like this at rookie minicamp. I’m not taking a shot at my CSN Philly colleague John Clark here because four years ago I was there along with the rest of the DC media, hyperventilating over virtually every move made by the new rookie QB, also the second overall pick in the draft. But there is really nothing remarkable about Carson Wentz dodging “pressure” from one assistant coach and throwing to another assistant coach who is standing still.

Again, I'm not taking a shot here. I could well post a video of Josh Doctson making a nice catch against a defender who has zero chance of making the roster even for training camp. It's fun, it's harmless, but don't read too much into it.

—How good can Morgan Moses be? Perhaps he can be a test case for the importance of the offseason program. Last year he didn’t participate at all after suffering a Lisfranc injury near the end of his rookie 2014 season. A week into camp he was inserted into the starting job when they moved Brandon Scherff to guard. Moses was solid in run blocking, although like everyone on that unit he needs to get better. Per Pro Football Focus nobody on the team gave up more than the five sacks Moses was charged with. He did improve as the year went on, however, giving up four in the first 10 games and only one in the last six. Will he be better in 2016 after a full, healthy offseason? We will find out.

 

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]

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

 

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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.