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Need to Know: Three Redskins up, three down from a year ago

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Need to Know: Three Redskins up, three down from a year ago

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 29, 29 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 171 days ago. It will be 75 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 16; Preseason opener @ Falcons 43; Final roster cut 66

Three up, three down from a year ago

The Redskins have 44 players who were on their roster entering training camp in 2015 but not all of them are in the same situation they were in a year ago. Here are three players whose situations have improved in the past 12 months and three who are worse off.

Three Up

QB Kirk Cousins—At the end of minicamp last year, Cousins was coming off of a season where he was buried at the bottom of the depth chart. In February, Jay Gruden declared that Robert Griffin III would be the starting quarterback. He was assured of a job but his future was very uncertain. Now the only uncertainty is if he will sign a long-term contract or “settle” foar playing for a fully guaranteed $20 million.

CB Quinton Dunbar—Last summer he was an undrafted receiver on a team that seemed to be set at receiver. But some cornerbacks went down during training camp, he stepped up when the team was looking for volunteers to fill in. Fast forward to November and he is lined up opposite Odell Beckham in a game the Redskins need to stay in the playoff race. He will have to compete for position on the depth chart in training camp but he is assured of being a part of the secondary.

OT Morgan Moses—The Redskins had Trent Williams as a fixture at left tackle and they had spent the fifth overall draft pick to get Brandon Scherff to play right tackle. It looked like he was destined to be a backup tackle or perhaps convert to guard. But about a week into camp the team moved Scherff to guard and made Moses the starting right tackle. After a solid season his future looks bright.

Three Down

DL Trent Murphy—A year ago the team had already shown a degree of dissatisfaction with his play at outside linebacker by drafting Preston Smith. Then after camp started they signed Junior Galette. Murphy would have ended up third on the depth chart had Galette not been injured during practice. As it is he is undergoing a position change and it remains to be seen just how he will fit into the line rotation.

LB Perry Riley—Riley was a solid starter at Jack linebacker all the way through the offseason program and training camp. But he struggled, got injured, and lost his starting job to Mason Foster, who was picked up after the start of the season. Foster was the starter during OTAs as Riley watched from the sideline with his foot in a boot. He may be in danger of being cut if he can’t win back the starting job.

WR Ryan Grant—Last year when DeSean Jackson was injured early in the season opener Grant had a big chance to shine. He averaged 45 snaps over seven games but he caught just 17 passes for 194 yards and he made a key mistake, slipping on a pattern in Atlanta allowing the game-winning pick six. Now he takes a step back on the depth chart after they drafted Josh Doctson in the first round. The coaches still love his work ethic but at some point he has to get it done on Sundays.

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

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Redskins activate K Dustin Hopkins, waive K Nick Rose

After missing the last eight games, the Redskins brought back place-kicker Dustin Hopkins from the injured reserve and waived Nick Rose.

Hopkins became eligible to return from the IR this week and took part in practice all week. Jay Gruden wouldn't commit to one kicker or the other when he spoke earlier in the week, but the decision came down on Saturday.

Rose played well in Hopkins' absence, making 10 of 11 field goals including a 55-yarder. The rookie Rose had some struggles with extra points, missing two of his 20 attempts, though neither snap/hold combination was totally clean either. 

RELATED: REDSKINS-CARDINALS PREVIEW

Hopkins has the stronger leg and is capable of booting the ball out of the end zone on seemingly every kickoff. With Rose as kicker, at times the Redskins deployed a different strategy where kicks were aimed for the goal line, forcing a return. 

Washington's kicker for parts of the last three seasons, Hopkins has a career 84 percent field goal conversion rate and 94.6 percent conversion rate on extra points in 36 games. 

The Redskins sent Hopkins to the IR after a Week 6 win over the 49ers with a right hip rotator muscle injury. 

MORE REDSKINS: SLOW STARTS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE REDSKINS

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

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Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up

For the second consecutive game, the Redskins got blown out on the road. First in Dallas, then in Los Angeles, Jay Gruden's team is reeling with mounting questions and pressures about 2018 and beyond. 

The best way to calm down the flames? Get a win.

Washington will have that chance on Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) when they host the Arizona Cardinals. Getting the victory won't be easy, however, no matter how bad the Redskins need it. 

  1. Turn the page - The Redskins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-27. The results have been terrible, and the outcome in Los Angeles could have been much uglier had the Chargers not pulled starting QB Philip Rivers. Still, those games are over, and Washington needs to focus on the Cardinals. Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot "wallow" in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come. 
  2. Get it going - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense had by far their worst statistical output last week in LA. The offense must get back on track, and that means a better performance from Cousins and the 'Skins run game. Against the Chargers, Washington generated only 201 total yards and just nine first downs. Nine, their second worst total since having only 15 first downs against the Cowboys the week before. At this stage of the season, the Redskins defense will not win this team any games. The offense must do it, and that means improved play from the line, the quarterback and the skill positions. 
  3. Make a play - Turnovers can win or lose games, and in their last two blowout losses, it's no surprise the Redskins have been on the wrong end of the ledger. Washington has five turnovers in their last two games, and has generated only one takeaway in that span. (It can be argued that shouldn't even count, as it came on an interception from Chargers backup Kellen Clemens in the final minutes of a blowout.) Washington ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed, and that won't improve with linebacker Zach Brown out this weekend. Generating turnovers, particularly against Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert, should be the defensive focus. 

Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked about preparation before the Chargers game-

We didn't spend last week playing checkers.

News & Notes:

  • Gabbert has been sacked 15 times in the Cardinals last two games. Washington comes into Week 15 with the 13th most sacks in the league.
  • The Cardinals defense ranks in the Top 10 in yards per play, yards per game, and rush yards per game. Despite that, Arizona's defense ranks 25th in points allowed. 
  • D.J. Swearinger, who played for Arizona last season before signing in Washington as a free agent, is tied for fourth in the NFC in interceptions.
  • Jordan Reed won't be playing this week, or the remainder of the season. Washington moved Reed to the injured reserve this week. 
  • Arizona coach Bruce Arians was a college quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1972 to 1974.

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