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Redskins notebook: Nine OTA takeaways

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Redskins notebook: Nine OTA takeaways

1) Theabsent-minded head coach: It's all good now according to Mike Shanahan, but last Monday's accidentalcollision at practice with cornerback Brandyn Thompson that knocked the head coach to the ground also knocked him loopy for a time.Those guys didnt think I could take a hit at 59. I proved I can take a hit," Shanahan said during his Thursday post-practice press conference. "I did talk to the team afterward, which was about 10 minutes after I got hit. I do not remember the conversation I had with the team. I really dont. It took me probably about 20 minutes, 25 minutes, to recover because I hit my head pretty good on the turf. I was fine, really, about 20 minutes afterward. I was fine.Shanahan addedthat during his38 yearsroaming practice fields he's been pushedor brushed against a time or two, he's "never taken a shot like that.2) Participation report: I wrote about this here, but those who did not practice on Thursday included Leonard Hankerson (hip), Brian Orakpo (pectoral), Adam Carriker (foot blisters), Steven Bowen (knee), Jonathan Goff (knee) and running back Tim Hightower (knee surgery). Kory Lichtensteiger (knee) participated in individual and unit drills only. Barry Cofield and Tanard Jackson were both absent, but Shanahan said both were excused. During the two weeks of OTAs, Shanahan said, "Weve got 100 attendance. If a guy has missed, its been an excused absence.3) Random RG3 things: The latest sign the kid gets it came when he described his plan for rewarding his offensive lineman during the season. "My familys from New Orleans, Louisiana. I know how to cook beignets. For every no-sack victory, theyll get beignets and I think theyll love those. As for how the rookie is handling the second week of OTAs, I wrote about that over here.4) Safety dance: While there was plenty of mixing and matching with the first and second unit, Reed Doughty continues to primarily work with the reserves. As for the absent but excused Jackson, Shanahan said the original planwas forhim to return today. until it wasn't. "He was going to practice for the first day today, but over the last couple weeks with his shoulder and his legs, he wasnt ready to go. But hes approved to practice and he should be ready for tomorrow or Monday.5) Tight end watch, part one: Regarding Chris Cooley, Shanahan said, Hes been doing fine. No setback with his knee. I think he strained his groin a little bit two days ago, and hes fine today. Theres no swelling on the knee, no setback there. Thats a good sign because hes been working for the last few weeks pretty hard. Thats a positive sign.6) Tight end watch, part two: I'm always fascinated when someone wants to make declarations about player X having a breakout practice, especially this early in the process when nobody is wearing pads. My goal is toneverbe that guy.With that said, one player who did turn some heads was Niles Paulafter flashing his deep threat on multiple plays down field, including a scoring pass from Rex Grossman.In the modern NFL, having tight ends that are built and run like wide receivers isbecoming the norm so any indication that the second-year player can be that type of option is interesting. Seeing how he handles the blocking side of things when the pads do come out is another andarguably more important matter.7) Don't blame the pancake social: Orakpo did some individual and unitwork, but waskept off thefield during 11-on-11 drill because ofhis left pectoral muscle, which he originally injured late last season. "He kind of had it get pushed back a little bit," Shanahan said. "We did an MRI on it, and it was no problem. It was just a little bit sore, probably some scar tissue in there from the surgery. We just kept him out of team drills, but he did all individual drills so he should be fine.8) Offensive line: Another practice, another day talking about Jammal Brown's yoga habits. Fine, the media were the one's asking the questions about it, but they came up after he practiced with the first unit at right tackle. Both the player and head coach continue to believe yoga is indeed helping the flexibility in his surgically repaired let hip. Let's see where we are with this in training camp, which is when Lichtensteiger believes he will be active practice participant. With Lichtensteiger sitting out during team drills, Tyler Polumbuslinedup at left guard with the first unit.9) Brian Banks: Shanahan said he called and spoke with Banks, aformer USC linebacker recruit who had his football career cut short in 2002when he plead no contest to a schoolmate's false accusation of rape at the age of 17. Banks spent his next five years in a jail cell and is now seeking an opportunity in the NFL. One is expected to come next week when he visits Redskins Park for a workout. "I think when somebody goes through the situation that he went through, he deserves an opportunity to try out for somebody," Shanahan said. "This kid deserves a chance."

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants

Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.

Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.

Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.

Keys to winning

  • Run the ballThe Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
  • Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
  • Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.

Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.

Redskins 31, Giants 13

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.

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.