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Need to Know: Redskins valued Cary Williams' experience

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Need to Know: Redskins valued Cary Williams' experience

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 7, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers in a wild card playoff game.

Five thoughts on the playoff-bound Redskins

—If I had to guess which Redskins running back will be inactive on Sunday I’d say Chris Thompson. He is being hampered by a toe injury and he showed some frustration in practice yesterday. Matt Jones (hip) was limited but he appears to be improving. Toe injuries are tough to overcome quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if Thompson was on the shelf on Sunday.

—The two names to watch on the Packers’ injury list are CB Sam Shields and LT David Bakhatiari. Shields, their top corner and the primary candidate to cover DeSean Jackson, has missed the last three games with a concussion. Bakhatiari’s absence for the last two weeks has created some severe pass protection problems for the Packers; they have been sacked 14 times in that two-game span. Shields and Bakhatiari were two of six Packers who did not practice on Wednesday due to injuries. All 53 Redskins on the roster practiced; five were limited, the rest were a full go.

—There appears to be some hand wringing out there about the return of Kory Lichtensteiger at center. Some are worried about his game shape, others about continuity on the line. But any drawbacks there may be in those aspects are more than compensated for by the improvement in shotgun snaps back to Kirk Cousins. The Redskins were very fortunate that none of Josh LeRibeus’ snaps ended up causing a disaster. On a related note, Brian de la Puente must not have impressed at all to be unable to push LeRibeus aside.

—Jay Gruden said that they brought in CB Cary Williams because the veteran is a plug and play guy. “[We] needed another veteran guy and he fits into the same mold as [Will] Blackmon, Mason Foster and Alex Smith – guys that have played a lot of football where this game won't be too big for them, that they can come in and play significant reps and not be overwhelmed with the terminology or the competition,” said Gruden. “He's a very confident corner.” Perhaps Williams is a little too confident for his own good sometimes but he is immediate depth and that’s what the team needed.

—Trent Williams said that seems like a “normal” week at Redskins Park even though “in the back of your mind you know it’s a playoff game so it’s an emphasis to bring your A-game.” He also said that nobody wants to be the guy that makes the mistake that costs the team a playoff game. “The importance of just any bad play, any penalty, things like that in a playoff atmosphere tens to sting a little more than it does in a regular season game,” said Williams. “Obviously the intensity is going to be sky-high for both sides.”

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:00

Days until: Redskins vs. Packers in wild card playoff game 3; Super Bowl 50 31

In case you missed it

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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: