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Need to Know: Redskins' O-line may need some time to gel

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Need to Know: Redskins' O-line may need some time to gel

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 24, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Baltimore Ravens.

Question of the day

Today's question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

Although I cautioned people about overreacting to 16 bad snaps by the offense I do think that the rough performance by the offensive line does deserve some scrutiny. When a quarterback gets hit six times in eight dropbacks, there is cause for concern. So let's take a look at the line and how good (or bad) it might be in 2015.

Willie Smith won’t be the left tackle when the season starts on September 13. He may not even be on the 53-man roster. But the chances are that Trent Williams will miss a game or two. The Redskins need to have a good backup plan in place. My guess is that they would move Morgan Moses over from the right side to the left and insert Tom Compton in Moses’ spot. It’s not an ideal solution but very few NFL teams would be able to get along without their starting left tackles without missing a beat. A lot of fans are saying they need to improve their depth at LT but that is easier said than done.

The right side had issues, too, particularly right guard Brandon Scherff. There are high hopes for Scherff and they probably will come to fruition but he’s not there yet. He could well struggle for a few weeks or a couple of months before finding his stride. The problem with him, as with many dominant college linemen, is that his instincts are still set to be able to physically dominate the player in front of him. In the Big 10, he could do that. In the NFL, he can’t. He needs to master techniques, leverage, and the like. Bill Callahan will work overtime with him to make sure that he does. It will take time, however, and there may be some more struggles in the meantime.

Moses may be further along that Scherff in some ways but he needs some seasoning as well. Don’t forget that he missed the entire offseason program while rehabbing a foot injury so he had a lot of catching up to do.

Bottom line, Randy, I’m not sure what you mean by “as advertised” but the “Hogs” hype is not based in reality. They could be pretty good, perhaps very good. But it won’t happen immediately. The until will take some time to gel.

To give a quick answer to your second question, it’s wait and see. Morris is a favorite of Jay Gruden's, who loves his work ethic, durability and production. But that doesn't make it a lock that he'll stay. We have to see how he performs this year, and if Jones and Thompson can stay on the field all year. If I have to guess right now I'd say Morris will be back but I'd just put the odds at 55 percent stays, 45 percent goes. There are just too many variables and too much that can happen between now and the end of the year to get a firm handle on it.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:45 a.m.; player availability and Jay Gruden news conference after practice (approx. 1:45)

—It’s been 241 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 18 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Redskins @ Ravens 3; final cuts 10; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 29

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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]

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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.