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Practice report: RG3 sharp

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Practice report: RG3 sharp

RICHMOND—Here’s my look at today’s Redskins practice, first with a look at Robert Griffin III’s day and then a walk around a few other notable events.

(Note: just to mix it up we're shifting back to the old school, non-Twitter report for the last practice report of the year.

—Griffin looks none the worse for wear the day after his rigorous 16-rep day on Wednesday. Well, OK, it really wasn’t all that tough.

—In position drills, passing to receivers covered by nobody, Griffin looks sharp. Earlier in camp he seemed like he was using his arm more and his (right) plant leg less. Now he is driving off of the injured leg more and using his arm less. That’s helping his velocity and accuracy. And, most important, it’s a sign that the knee is rounding into shape.

—Griffin’s first set of four reps in 11 on 11 includes two handoffs to Alfred Morris and two passes. One pass is a dumpoff to Roy Helu and the other is a nice dart to Josh Morgan, who was about 25 yards downfield on the numbers. He executed the handoffs perfectly, for the record.

—In between reps, Griffin stands by Kyle Shanahan but seems to be focused more on what he needs to do the next time he’s behind center rather than paying close attention to what’s going on when he is out. In other words, he’s not doing as many as many “mental reps”, he’s more thinking about his own reps.

—The highlight of RG3’s second set is a play-action bootleg pass to Fred Davis. Griffin hit him on the move about 15 yards downfield.

—The next time he was out there it was just for one play but it was a good one. He hit Josh Morgan on a deep post, the pass right on the money. At this point Griffin is four of four.

—Griffin doubled his number of completions the next time out. He was four for four, all of them in the five- to 10-yard range.

—In a goal line set, Griffin gets two snaps. On the first one he hands off to Alfred Morris. The next one was the play-action bootleg and he found Davis in the back of the end zone for his first “touchdown” of 11 on 11 drills.

—After hitting Aldrick Robinson for 19 yards after a play fake, Griffin had taken 17 snaps and was 10 for 10.

—It was in the next set that Griffin threw his first incompletion. He went for Pierre Garçon on an out pattern but the pass was way wide.

—A little bit later on, Griffin hit Garçon on that sideline patter and that was his last play of the day. In 21 snaps he was 14 of 15 for (per John Keim of ESPN and Zac Boyer of the Free Lance Star) 179 yards with the one touchdown.

In some other notable happenings:

—It’s apparent that the defense has been instructed to go extra hard after the ball when a rookie gets a carry. After one Jawan Jamison carry the defense swarmed around him, tugging and punching at the ball. They kept it up every time Jamison got the ball and when Chris Thompson got it although it didn’t seem that Thompson was treated quite as roughly as Jamison.

—The highlight catch of the day came when Kirk Cousins went to Leonard Hankerson on a deep post. Both the receiver and the defensive back (who couldn’t be identified because the defenders were wearing bibs as the emulated the Steelers defense) got their hands on the ball. Hankerson snatched it away and rolled downfield.

—Later Cousins threw a pass intended for Jordan Reed that newly acquired linebacker Quan Sturdivant tipped and intercepted. Nice play but Reed needs to learn how to play defensive back when he needs to. He didn’t make much of an effort to knock the pass down.

—Speaking of receivers who don’t try to knock down passes a defender is about to catch, Dezmon Briscoe had better pick up his level of hustle. He turned into a spectator on interceptions by Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford. He gave just no effort at all to break up the pass.

—Your know, since Griffin started running in 11 on 11, the seven on seven drills have gone away. They didn’t do any of them last year either. The Redskins, Kyle Shanahan in particular, don’t like seven on seven, they’d rather run the whole team to simulate the offense. Assuming Griffin is healthy, next year I don’t think we’ll see seven on sevens at the Bon Secours training center.

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was 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. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

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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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

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!