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Need to Know: Is the Redskins' depth chart at outside linebacker set?

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Need to Know: Is the Redskins' depth chart at outside linebacker set?

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 9, two days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:30; Jay Gruden news conference after practice, approx.. 3:30

—The Redskins last played a game 212 days ago. It will be 34 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 10; Final roster cut 25; Cowboys @ Redskins 40

Read and react: Jay Gruden

On if he’s decided how much the starters will play vs. the Falcons:
“Not yet. You know, we’ll play it by ear, see how we do out at practice today and we’ll have a staff meeting tonight and then make a decision.”
I’m not sure what would make Gruden change from having his starting offense go one series if they move the ball and two if they don’t. The starting defense will probably go two series. It’s not like Gruden to go unconventional in situations like this.

On if Trent Murphy, who just moved back to outside linebacker, would focus more on pass rushing that coverage:
“Originally that was our plan. We’re trying to get him going forward more often. He, Preston [Smith], Ryan [Kerrigan] will be our feature ends – Houston Bates. We’ll see what happens with the other guys who are competing for jobs – Willie Jefferson, Lynden Trail, Double E [Ejiro Ederaine] and Shiro Davis, so we’ll see what happens there. But we’ll try to get him going forward more, yes.”
So it looks like the roster spots at OLB are set, with Kerrigan, Smith, Murphy, and Bates. That’s what Gruden just said. If you’re in the “we’ll see what happens” group I think you might want to get used to living on a practice squad salary at best.

On Su’a Cravens’ position
“We’re going to try him at linebacker first. He’s a 20-year-old kid and coming in here he has got to learn one spot first. He needs to learn the defense, so we figured inside linebacker in nickel and dime situations is the spot to teach him the defense first. From there we can branch off, see his skill set, move on and try him at safety – maybe nickel – whatever it is. Right now we feel like the best place for him learning the defense is at linebacker.”
This is for those of you who are worried that the Redskins will want the 6-1, 222 Cravens to play inside linebacker on first down and plug the hole against big running backs. When will be in when the other team is likely to pass and he will cover and occasionally rush. And he could be more of an in-the-box safety than a linebacker. So sit back, relax, and watch how his role evolves and develops.

On if there is a better example for young players than Ryan Kerrigan:
“Not really, no. He’s very humble, number one. Keeps to himself and does exactly what’s asked of him in practice. He practices hard; in fact, we have to pull him back a little bit because he practices so hard and we want to keep him healthy for the 16-week grind. He’s a top-notch guy, on and off the field, character-wise.. He’s what you’re looking for.”
I’m not sure if Kerrigan’s sack numbers will ever quite live up to his contract. But he’s a guy you want to keep around because of this. One of the things that Scot McCloughan emphasizes in building a team is having players around who serve as the blueprint for other young players who come into the program. Kerrigan is worth a bonue over his sack numbers just for that.

Tandler on Twitter Instagram

An hour after practice ended Josh Norman is still signing autographs. #Redskins

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 25, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 15
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 22
—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 29

Last look at Redskins vs Giants

Defense is on again—The Redskins have not played well on defense the last couple of weeks, allowing a total of 72 points to the Vikings and Saints. But they had a solid game against the Giants, with some help from inaccurate Eli Manning passes and some drops. But the numbers are what they are and they say three points allowed (not counting the seven on the pick six) and 170 yards of offense for New York. It’s the second time this year the Redskins have held an opponent to 170 yards or fewer (Raiders got 128 in week 3). It’s the first time the Redskins have held two opponents to 170 or fewer in the same season since 2004. For the Giants, it was their lowest offensive output since 2013.

Kirk Cousins’ night—Is it fair to say that he had a solid outing? Or is that not enough? He did lead a drive to the winning touchdown in the latter half of the fourth quarter of a tie game. The Redskins have won five games and Cousins has fourth-quarter game-winning drives in four of them. On Thursday, he completed 61 percent of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and an interception that only the harshest critics (and there are many out there) would pin on him. Both of the TDs were special plays in their own ways. Cousins did take six sacks—those are not all on the makeshift offensive line—and he misfired on some passes. He deserves a solid B+ grade for the game.

Hall sits—A lot of people were alarmed by what they saw out of DeAngelo Hall in New Orleans, especially in the late going as Drew Brees got hot. Apparently, the Redskins’ coaches were among them. Even with starter Montae Nicholson sidelined with a concussion, Hall did not play a single snap on defense. It will be interesting to see if he is inactive when Nicholson is ready to play, possibly as early as next Thursday.

On a streak—No, not in the big wins column. I’m talking about winning the opening coin toss. The Redskins have now won two in a row. In the nine games prior to that, the Redskins had extraordinarily bad luck, going 2-7 in the 50-50 proposition. It remains very much in vogue for teams to defer after winning the toss. That has been the choice of the winners of the toss in 10 of the Redskins’ 11 games. The only team that chose to receive after winning the toss was the Raiders in Week 3.

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.

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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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