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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins faces tough task against Packers pass defense

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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins faces tough task against Packers pass defense

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 6, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers in a wild card playoff game.

Five first thoughts on Redskins vs. Packers

—The Packers are probably the toughest pass defense that the Redskins have faced since they played the Panthers in Week 11. Green Bay is better than any team that the Redskins have played in the last six games in terms of both opponent passer rating and net passing yards per attempt.

—However, the Packers do have some vulnerability to the deep pass. The have given up 14 passes of 40 yards or more, tied for the third most in the league. The Redskins hope that DeSean Jackson’s week off did him some good. The pressure will be on the offensive line to keep the Packers at bay (43 sacks, T-7th) and give Kirk Cousins time to find Jackson deep.

—That Carolina game was only game in the last seven where Cousins failed to post a passer rating of over 100. My guess is that if he doesn’t have a good day, a very good day, the Redskins won’t be able to win. Cousins has been carrying the team, the offensive part of it anyway, during their four-game winning streak. If it’s going to extend to five I think Cousins needs to go something like 28 of 35 for 325 yards with three touchdowns and no picks if the Redskins are going to survive and advance.

—It’s weakness meets weakness when the Redskins’ rushing offense is matched up against the Green Bay rush defense. Washington is 29th in the NFL with an average of 3.7 yards per carry. The Packers are 29th in the league giving up 4.5 yards per attempt. It’s an opportunity for the Redskins to get rolling on the ground and Alfred Morris did look more like his 2012-2014 self than he has most of this year.

—Even though Aaron Rodgers is having an off year by his standards, he’s still dangerous going off schedule and hitting receivers who are open because the defense lost track of them. He threw 31 touchdown passes and had just eight interceptions. On my schedule in the next couple of days is an article saying that the Redskins actually have an edge at the quarterback position in this game. And I believe that. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Rodgers drew on his well of postseason experience and pulled this one out for the Packers.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins vs. Packers in wild card playoff game 4; Super Bowl 50 32

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Redskins Week 15 injury report: Two out, seven questionable vs. Cardinals

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins Week 15 injury report: Two out, seven questionable vs. Cardinals

Redskins linebacker Zach Brown may want to power through his myriad of injuries but he won’t be able to do it this week.

Brown is one of two Redskins who have been declared out for the game against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden listed his injuries as toe/ankle/Achilles/hip. This will be the first game that Brown has missed with the Redskins and his first since he was with the Titans in 2014.

Also out is safety Montae Nicholson, who will miss his fourth straight game with a concussion.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

Listed as questionable are OT Morgan Moses (ankle), OT Trent Williams (knee), OLB Ryan Anderson (ankle), WR Ryan Grant (ankle), WR Maurice Harris (concussion), DE Terrell McClain (toe), and C Chase Roullier (hand).

Williams’ status for Sunday is very much in doubt. His usual pattern since sustaining a knee injury in Week 4 has been to sit out the first two days of practice and then participate in the third. However, he was not on the field on Friday during the portion of practice that was open to the media. Jay Gruden said that he did join the team at some point but he didn’t indicate that he took part in any football activity.

He has missed three games and it would not be surprising if he missed a fourth on Sunday. If Williams can’t go, Ty Nsekhe will start at left tackle.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

Roullier has been out the last three games with a broken right (snapping) hand. He has had the cast off of it for a couple of weeks now and he could be ready to go on Sunday.

Harris was out of the game against the Chargers last Sunday with a concussion. He has been practicing on a limited basis all week. The chances that he can pass the concussion protocol seem good, although with concussions it is always difficult to know for sure.

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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Why ailing Zach Brown has plenty of incentive to keep playing

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USA Today Sports Images

Why ailing Zach Brown has plenty of incentive to keep playing

Redskins linebacker Zach Brown missed practice for a second straight day on Thursday, putting doubt into his availability for the game against the Cardinals.

Brown is leading the league in combined tackles and, probably, in injuries.

The team’s injury report says that he is dealing with four of them—toe, Achilles, and ankle with an illness piled on top of those.

“They’re hindering him quite a bit,” Jay Gruden said of Brown’s laundry list of ailments.

“Sickness is starting to clear up a little bit but he’s still a little sore. We’ll see if he makes any progress tomorrow. It’d have to be pretty significant, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

The illness might clear up but the other injuries are unlikely to go away until a few weeks into the offseason. He is getting treatments that include massage, laser, and acupuncture but rest is the only thing that will get rid of the problems.

Some have wondered why Brown persists with multiple injuries and the team now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. For one thing, playing is what he does.

“I like to play the game,” said Brown last week.

RELATED: WEEK 15 POWER RANKINGS

“I like to play the game with passion and I hate to lose. I try my best to help people do better, just trying to help some of the young guys. At the end of the day, you rest when the season’s over.”

There are financial considerations as well, on a couple of different fronts. Brown will be a free agent in 2018 and he is risking further injury that could lower his value on the market. He says that does not factor into is thinking.

“Last two years I was on the free agent market, it’s the way I play,” he said. “If that was the case I would have just shut it down already.”

There are other, more immediate financial considerations as well. Brown has per-game roster bonuses of $15,625 that are paid if he is on the list of 46 active players. And he has incentive bonuses of up to $2.3 million according to Over the Cap. It’s safe to say that at least some of those bonuses will be attainable only if Brown is able to play effectively in all or nearly all of the scheduled 16 games.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

Brown hasn’t spoken about the incentive bonus money being important and, given his answer to the free agency question, he probably wouldn’t. But this is not a player who has made a ton of money in his career. According to Spotrac, if he hits on his roster bonuses and on his likely to be earned incentives this year he will have about $7.7 million in career earnings. That’s a good chunk of money but once you take away taxes, a cut to his agent and other various and sundry expenses it’s not “set for life” money. It’s likely that his bank account would notice whatever he can collect in incentives.

Gruden has said that Brown is a player who could go on Sunday even with only one practice under his belt. We will know a lot more about his status this afternoon when his practice status for Friday and his game status for Sunday will be announced on the injury report.