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Need to Know: Which Redskins will surprise in 2016?

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Need to Know: Which Redskins will surprise in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 23, one day before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 134 days ago. It will be 112 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 66; Preseason opener @ Falcons 80; Final roster cut 103

Two up, two down

Here are four Redskins who I think will surprise in 2016; two who will exceed expectations and two I think will fall short of expectations.

Two up

DL Stephen Paea—I think after last year the expectations of him are so low that he could do just about anything and exceed them. Paea has last year’s injuries behind him, he’s had a year in the defense, and he should be ready to contribute. I’ll put him down for about eight starts, 650 snaps, and five sacks. He isn’t going to get any Pro Bowl votes but he should be a solid contributor.

S DeAngelo Hall—He will be 33 before the season ends and many are skeptical that he can learn a new position and thrive. I think he will do well if—and this is a big if—he can make at least 14 starts. Hall missed major portions of the last two seasons but he has been healthy most of his career. If he makes 14 starts I think he plays almost every snap and ends up with six interceptions.

Two down

WR DeSean Jackson—I sense some high expectations for Jackson this year but I’m not so sure that a big year for him is in the cards. I don’t think he’ll be a bust but I don’t think he’ll approach his 2014 stat line of 56 receptions for 1169 yards (20.9 yards/catch) and six touchdowns. He’s likely to miss a few games with injuries—he has only played 16 games in a season only once in his eight years in the league. And the additions of Josh Doctson and Vernon Davis and a possible resurgence in the running game will mean fewer targets for him. Jackson will be more productive than he was last year (30/528/4) but a 1000-yard seasons looks unlikely.

CB Josh Norman—I think that Norman will be a victim of high expectations and expected to do things that he isn’t necessarily capable of doing. He’s not a shutdown corner who will be expected to take the other team’s best receiver out of the game. And he’s not going to get eight or ten picks; he has only seven interceptions in his four-year career. He will contribute a lot but I think a lot of fans will be looking for numbers that he won’t deliver.

Stat of the day

Kirk Cousins completed 69.2 percent of his passes on third down last year, the highest completion percentage among the 26 quarterbacks who had at least 100 third-down passing attempts.

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]

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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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.