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Redskins practice report Day 13: Good day for RG3, with an asterisk

Redskins practice report Day 13: Good day for RG3, with an asterisk

RICHMOND—It was hot and sticky as the Redskins made their final preparations for their preseason opener in Cleveland in two days. Here are my observations from practice and some quotes from around the Bon Secours training center:

—The players were not in pads, although some wore shells. This is typical for a regular season Friday practice, two days before a game.

—It seems like the tight ends spend a lot more time working on blocking this year than they do on catching. The group moved from a blocking drill with the offensive tackles to one with just the tight ends. Although I can’t say for sure since I didn’t measure the time spent in any way, it appears that blocking is more of a priority than it was before.

Robert Griffin III was about as sharp as he has been all summer, completing seven of seven passes in 11 on 11 work. It should be noted that since they were not wearing pads they were not going at full speed. Still, the Redskins have run practices at similar speeds during this camp and Griffin has not been as sharp.

—Griffin also had a perfect completion percentage during seven on seven work. He capped his six for six session with a 50-yard bomb to Pierre Garçon, who had beaten safety Duke Ihenacho. The pass settled into the receiver’s arms as soon as he crossed the goal line.

—When it was his turn, Kirk Cousins executed a similar pass. He lofted it to receiver Rashad Ross, who had a step on his defender. The pass was on target but the ball bounced out of Ross’ arms.

—Back in full team drills, Griffin threw one deep to Niles Paul, who had beaten linebacker Adam Hayward. The pass was on target and Paul “scored” easily.

Kai Forbath had his second straight strong showing in field goal kicking at the end of practice. He split the uprights on all four of his attempts, from 30, 33, 38, and 40 yards

Notable quotables:

Jordan Reed sees that things are settling down as his unit enters its second year working in Jay Gruden’s offense: “Everybody is where they need to be at. There aren’t as much questions for the coaches. Guys are just getting to a lot smoother.” How does quarterback Robert Griffin III look to him? “He looks real comfortable, man. His grasp of the offense seems pretty tight and he seems like he’s got it.”

—Injuries have forced the Redskins to scramble at cornerback. They signed two new corners last week and they moved wide receiver Quinton Dunbar to cornerback as well. Safety Duke Ihenacho was asked what the biggest issue is with the changes: “Slower communication. Sometimes you got to reiterate a check. If it’s a young guy, it’s like, ‘what’s that mean?’ Some guys just got here a week ago, they haven’t been here all offseason so we’re trying to catch them up to speed, they just have to learn the whole playbook. So when they’re out there with us, the veterans, there’s not just one guy out there, it’s two or three and it was hard to communicate.”

—Preseason openers are old hat to the veterans. But to players like rookie fourth-round pick G Arie Kouandjio they are something special: “I plan on playing a lot. . . I want to diminish as many mistakes as I can. I just want to play to the best of my ability, I just want to go out there and let my hair loose . . . and just play ball.”

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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!