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Need to Know: Redskins' Smith enjoys his pro debut

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Need to Know: Redskins' Smith enjoys his pro debut

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 16, four days before Washington Redskins play the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field.

Smith enjoys his pro debut

RICHMOND—The Redskins drafted Preston Smith in the second round, hoping that the Mississippi State product would battle Trent Murphy for the starting job at right outside linebacker. Perhaps Smith would come off of the bench but he was expected to be a major part of the team’s pass rush.

But then the team signed Junior Galette, who had 22 sacks the last two years playing for the Saints. With Smith having some rookie struggles in practice, his role on the team was quite up in the air.

That was before the Redskins’ preseason opener against the Browns last Thursday. Smith started the game in place of the resting Ryan Kerrigan. The rookie recorded a team-high six tackles and a sack.

“It felt great out there to get our feet wet, to finally get a first sack in an NFL game especially in a preseason game, my first NFL game,” he said after the game. “It was a great feeling to go out there and finally string some pass-rush together and get a sack and get home to the quarterback.”

It should be noted that Smith’s sack came late in the third quarter against Browns players who are vying for practice squad jobs. Still, the fact it gives him a confidence boost is a positive.

As noted, the depth chart at outside linebacker is crowded with Kerrigan, who just signed a big contract extension, Galette, and Murphy and Smith, the team’s last two second-round draft picks. Kerrigan is going to play nearly every snap so the other three will have to find a way to get on the field.

Smith really doesn’t have much to worry about if he can get the job done. If he can rush the passer against front-line blockers they will find a way to get him on the field in passing situations. It’s possible that all four of the outside backers will be on for some nickel plays, perhaps with Murphy lining up on the inside and Smith on the line in a three-point stance.

The Redskins had 36 sacks last year, tied for 21st in the NFL. Over a quarter of those sacks, 10, came in one game against the Jaguars. They are looking to get to the quarterback more consistently this year. It will be up to new defensive coordinator Joe Barry to utilize the talent on the roster to make that happen and Smith could be a big part of it.

Timeline

—Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was born on this date in 1988.

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough 10:35 a.m.; Practice 3:05 p.m.

—It’s been 231 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 28 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Lions @ Redskins 4; final cuts 20; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 39

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: