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Need to Know: Redskins know their foe in Vick

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Need to Know: Redskins know their foe in Vick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 7, two days before the Redskins open up their season against the Eagles at FedEx Field.

Nickel coverage

1. Mark Maske of the Post is reporting that the Redskins are now $1.85 million under the salary cap. They recently created some cap room by restructuring the contracts of Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, and Adam Carriker. The money was needed to get the Redskins under the cap using the in-season rules. All year up until now, only the top 51 cap numbers counted towards the limit. Now, the cap charges of all 53 players plus those on injured reserve and the PUP list plus the $48,000 per week they pay the eight members of the practice squad are charged to the cap. The team’s spending was squeezed because they are in the second and final year of their cap being lessened by $18 million due to an NFL imposed cap penalty.

2. Tarik El-Bashir had this tidbit on Twitter yesterday: “A league source says the Redskins will bring in a left-footed punter to kick to rookie Chris Thompson. Eagles P Donnie Jones is lefty.” The spin of the ball is different coming off the foot of a left-footed punter and given Thompson’s inexperience—he hasn’t returned a kick in a game that counts since high school—it is a good idea to give him some practice handling those kicks.

3. Of course, Thompson has not yet been named the punt returner. On Thursday, Thompson said that he fielded two punts for every one that Josh Morgan and Santana Moss did in practice. Mike Shanahan said that the “competition” was ongoing and that Thompson had fielded so many punts due to his inexperience. I guess Shanahan just has to have something to keep secret. The world knows who the starting quarterback will be. He can’t drive fantasy owners crazy by playing musical running backs every week. Punt returner is all he has left.

4. One of the story lines floating around for this game is that the Eagles will have the same advantage over the Redskins on Monday as the Redskins did over the Saints in last year’s season opener. The Redskins surprised New Orleans and posted 40 points with the Pistol formation and option plays executed by rookie QB Robert Griffin III. The Eagles should be able to surprise the Redskins the same way, per this story line. But the difference is that Chip Kelly will be trying to mold Mike Vick into his scheme. It may not play to his strengths. The Redskins’ system was customized to fit the strengths of RG3. In short, it comes down to the player and not the scheme and the Redskins know Vick very well. They have faced him four times and there are miles of film on him. He won't be able to immediately change his tendencies and his strengths and weaknesses will remain.

5. It’s possible that Brandon Meriweather won’t be able to play on Monday due to his groin injury. If he can’t go, Reed Doughty is likely to start at strong safety. If that happens, expect Jordan Pugh to get a significant number of snaps at strong safety as well. With Meriweather out virtually the whole year in 2012, Pugh played anywhere from third to half of the snaps in most games when he first hit the field in Week 5 after he joined the team a few weeks earlier. Pugh isn’t going to make a lot of plays that you’ll see on SportsCenter but he also won’t make many mistakes.

Stat of the day

—Robert Griffin III posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in the Redskins’ first meeting with the Eagles last year. The NFL did not recognize the performance as a record, however, because Griffin’s 15 attempts did not meet the minimum of 18 the league requires for such marks.

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Timeline

—It’s been 241 days since the last Redskins game; there are two days until the next one

—Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 2; Redskins @ Packers 8; Lions @ Redskins 15

—Today’s schedule: No media availability; the team will practice in late afternoon

Morgan, Biggers talk to B-Mitch

In case you missed it

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

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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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

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!