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Need to Know: Will Thompson remain in the mix for the Redskins?

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Need to Know: Will Thompson remain in the mix for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, October 8, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons.

Saturday mailbag

Some good questions from Twitter and the Real Redskins Facebook page this week so let’s dive right in.

Johnson came in thinking he would be handed the starting job at strong safety. That was his first mistake. He got a strong challenge from Duke Ihenacho and he never really responded to it. A hamstring injury in training camp clinched the job for Ihenacho and let Trenton Robinson get past him on the depth chart, in position to get the job when Ihenacho went out for the season with a wrist injury. And it seems that Johnson simply has not responded well to his situation. We still have a long way to go in the season so perhaps Johnson will be heard from.

Chris Thompson is definitely in the plans to get touches on a regular basis. He’s not going to get 20 carries a game, or even 15. But they would like to get him three to five carries per game and target him four or five times in the passing game. Thompson could perhaps earn a few more touches if he does well but as long as Matt Jones and Alfred Morris are playing well it will be hard to get many more touches for Thompson.

There are no free agents out there in October who would be of legitimate help. They are as rare as unicorns. A trade? Maybe but the Falcons aren’t dealing Julio and no team with a similar weapon is going to cut an in-season deal, either. The Redskins are going to have to get along in the red zone with what they have. Although he is not huge, I think Pierre Garçon can help there as he showed against the Eagles. I also think they might get the ball to Matt Jones on a few passes out of the backfield.

I think that for starters, Morris’ numbers need to stop their annual decline we’ve seen since his big debut in 2012. He would need to become a better receiver out of the backfield and break some long runs. Right now, Morris is a very good runner but not an “elite” running back if you want to use the true since of the word. There are only a few of them, by definition—Peterson, Forte, Charles, Lynch. Morris is who he is, very good and a major asset to this team. But he is not an elite running back.

Grant is not going to be fast in and out of breaks because he’s not very fast. He is an outstanding route runner and that is how he will survive in the league. He will get chances for the next week or so while DeSean Jackson is out. When Jackson is back, however, it looks like Jamison Crowder will continue to be the slot receiver so Grant’s snaps, and so his chances, will be limited.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough and travel to Atlanta; no availability

Days until: Redskins @ Falcons 1; Redskins @ Jets 8; Bucs @ Redskins 15

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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.