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Redskins' Kirk Cousins: 'I haven’t plateaued—and that’s exciting'

Redskins' Kirk Cousins: 'I haven’t plateaued—and that’s exciting'

With OTAs in the rearview and minicamp approaching, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins agrees that getting all of the first team reps this offseason is accomplishing exactly what he and his coaches hoped it would.

“It’s made a big difference,” Cousins said Saturday at his youth football camp in Lorton, Va.

“We’ve just got to keep going out there and stack days on top of one another,” he added. “But there’s no doubt that these OTAs have been very valuable, not just for me but for our entire offense and our team. We want to maximize those reps and learn from any mistakes that we make, and we’re all excited about where our offense can continue to grow as we have some continuity and can bring guys back for another year and just build together.”

A year ago, Robert Griffin III took all of the snaps with Washington’s starters throughout the offseason program and training camp, leaving Cousins and Colt McCoy to divvy up second and third reps.

Of course, Cousins seized the starting job in late August, starting all 16 regular season games in 2015 and leading the Redskins to the playoffs. Still, the opportunity to lead the first team offense in practice, from Day 1, is a new experience for him. And, by most accounts, he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity.

During the handful of practice sessions that have been open to reporters in recent weeks, Cousins has indeed appeared more comfortable, confident and efficient in running the offense. He’s thrown the ball with more conviction. He’s also been more assertive as the team’s on-field leader.

“He’s obviously playing with a lot of confidence,” Coach Jay Gruden said last week, noting that he’s challenged Cousins with difficult situations in practice more often this spring. “He’s got great command of the offense—that’s the one thing you notice.”

Added Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay: “You absolutely see growth in him. He’s taken command of the offense; you can just see he’s got a really good feel for what we’re trying to get done.”

On Saturday, Cousins agreed with that assessment.  

“I do think I’m playing with more confidence,” he said. “I have a better understanding of defenses and our scheme and our protections and our routes. And, as a result, I’m able to grow as a player.”

Cousins continued: “That’s to be expected. I am only going into Year 5 and haven’t played a ton of football. But I’m able to grow and still improve as a player. I haven’t plateaued—and that’s exciting. We’ll just keep stacking days on top of each other and see where it takes us.”

The Redskins’ offseason program continues Tuesday in Ashburn, Va., with the start veteran minicamp.

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

One head-scratcher from over the weekend was the Redskins’ apparent decision to hold on to defensive end Terrell McClain despite the fact that his 2018 base salary of $3.25 million would become fully guaranteed as of 4 p.m. on Sunday.

McClain missed four games with a toe injury last year and when he was playing he was not one of the top performers on the line. Perhaps he will improve in his second year in the defense but his performance certainly didn’t warrant a fully guaranteed salary.

Sunday came and went, and McClain was still on the roster. However, there was a change regarding the eight-year veteran. According to John Keim of ESPN, the Redskins and the player agreed to remove the full guarantee of the 2018 salary and change it to an injury-only guarantee.


The change will help alleviate what could be a numbers crunch down the road. The Redskins normally carry six defensive linemen. They have four keepers in Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. They have been trying to sign a free agent D-lineman like Johnathan Hankins and if they fail to do that they are likely to take one early in the draft. That would mean that five of the roster spots are spoken for.

If McClain had the guaranteed salary that might lock him into that sixth spot, leaving Ziggy Hood, a favorite of the coaching staff, on the outside looking in. The removal of the full salary guarantee levels the playing field between McClain, Hood and another possible free agent or draft pick when it comes to competing for that last roster spot.

If McClain loses out in the battle for a roster spot in training camp releasing him would save about $3.4 million in 2018 cap space. However, there would be a dead cap charge of $2.5 million in 2019. If his salary had remained fully guaranteed his departure would have caused a net cap charge of about $2 million.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' defensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

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Need to Know: Looking at the Redskins' defensive depth chart after early phase of free agency

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 20, 37 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at the 2018 depth chart—defense

The Redskins are likely to make a few more free agent acquisitions and there is the draft, but the depth chart is beginning to settle in. Let’s take a look at where the defensive side of the ball stands now. The offense was covered yesterday.

Defensive line: Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee
Backups: Terrell McClain, Anthony Lanier, Ziggy Hood

I wrote this on Monday afternoon wondering if I would have to edit it to add Jonathan Hankins but that has not happened yet. I have to think that they will use a top draft pick on a D-lineman if they don’t land one in free agency. That could create some competition between Hood and McClain for the last roster spot.

Linebackers: OLBs Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan; ILBs Mason Foster, Zach Brown
Backups: Ryan Anderson, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Martrell Spaight

Again, I thought I might have to edit this because of the return of Junior Galette or the addition of Pernell McPhee but as it is, the Redskins are looking for an additional reserve edge rusher to go with Anderson. There might only be room for two backup inside linebackers between Vigil, Harvey-Clemons, and Spaight.

Defensive backs: CBs Quinton Dunbar, Josh Norman; FS Montae Nicholson, SS D.J. Swearinger
Backups: Orlando Scandrick, Fabian Moreau, Josh Holsey, Deshazor Everett

I debated including Su’a Cravens here because he is on the roster, but I think that the odds that he will be on the 53-man roster in September are slim. If he doesn’t return they will need some help at safety. You can count on Scandrick playing in the slot. They seem to like both Dunbar and Moreau better on the outside and Scandrick can give Holsey a chance to develop inside.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 28
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 130
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 174

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