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Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 20, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 192 days ago. It will be 54 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 22; Final roster cut 45; Cowboys @ Redskins 60

A week before reporting, some thoughts on the Redskins

The Redskins report to Richmond a week from today. Here are some thoughts on training camp and on the season.

—Everyone wants to know how much Josh Doctson will play this year and what his role will be. The person who ultimately answer that question is Doctson. It all depends on how quickly he picks up the scheme and running routes (the TCU route tree was not exactly challenging) and how well he does in the early season opportunities he will get. He could end up playing anywhere from 400 to 600 snaps (about 40% to 60%).

—The Redskins may not have broken the bank on Kirk Cousins but they have invested in weapons for him to target. They are fifth in the NFL in cap dollars devoted to wide receivers and 11th in tight end spending. They would be higher at tight end but Jordan Reed’s contract extension has him costing just $3.4 million against the cap this year, a number that jumps to $5.8 million next year and $10.3 million in 2018. It also should be noted that they invested a first-round pick in Doctson, a major expenditure of resources that doesn't hit the salary cap very hard. Only two other teams, the Cowboys and Titans, are in the top 11 in spending in both receivers and tight ends. Cousins will have no reason to complain about a lack of support.

—A year ago there was talk that Bashaud Breeland would be better as a safety than as a cornerback. Some in the organization speculated that he was a more natural fit there. Now he is being viewed as a quality player at the much more important cornerback spot. Although I think the fans and media here overrate him sometimes he is pretty good and, perhaps more importantly, he puts in the work it takes to get better. Along with Morgan Moses he is going to be a member of the 2014 draft class the Redskins likely will want to extend next year.

—If the Redskins were going to sign a veteran running back before training camp I would think they would have done it by now. My understanding is that backs like Pierre Thomas are going to be looking for more money if they are going to have to go through training camp. I guess it’s OK to try to save some cap dollars but an injury would be disastrous. It could bring up a scenario like we saw in 2010 when Clinton Portis got injured leaving Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams to handle the carries. This seems to be an unnecessary roll of the dice but we’ll see if it’s a gamble they win.

—Some were wondering if the Redskins tried out Jimmy Clausen with the idea of bringing him in as a fourth quarterback for training camp. I very much doubt it. The need for four quarterbacks in training camp has pretty much gone away with the abolition of two full practices a day. The throws in the daily walkthough are more like soft tosses so that saves the arms for the full practice. If you have four quarterbacks who need to get work in the one full practice none of them are going to get enough reps. So three arms is plenty. I don’t see the Redskins consider signing Clausen unless injuries force them to seek another QB.

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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.