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Rookie preview: Wide receiver Lance Lewis

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Rookie preview: Wide receiver Lance Lewis

LANCE LEWIS
Wide receiver
East Carolina
6-0 34, 209The need: Blame last years quarterbacking tandem of Rex Grossman and John Beck for the Redskins passing game woes, but the lack of receivers generating big plays on the outside, downfield or on 50-50 jump ball passes factored into the lackluster equation. Thats why the team went hard in free agency to acquire Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Thats why (among other reasons) they waivedthe solid vet but not breakaway threat.Jabar Gaffney andcleared the path for rising second-year receiver Leonard Hankerson. Thats why the still productive, but aging and expensive Santana Moss is not a lock for the final roster, especially if younger legs are deemed worthy of the job.The fit: During his two seasons playing in East Carolinas spread offense, the junior college transfer hauled in 149 receptions for 1,716 and 22 touchdowns. SI.com dubbed Lewis the Redskins top undrafted free agent, saying despite inconsistencies on the college level, hewill open some eyes this summer and will make some exciting plays. Though listed in the 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-3 range, Lewis measured out at the still respectable 6-foot-0 34 at the East-West Shrine game.The depth chart: Garcon, Hankerson and Morgan are locks. If Moss enters training camp in better shape than he did last season and cap space does not dictate the teams actions, hes good. Anthony Armstrong faded into the background last year, but could benefit playing with a better deep ball passer. Terrence Austin never quite took off, Aldrick Robinson looks to move off the practice squad and Brandon Banks hopes his return ability makes him invaluable for another season. So yes, there are options in front of Lewis, but hardly formidable obstacles, especially if he can produce throughout training camp and the team keeps a deep stable of receivers.Lewis upside: As with many rookies, Lewis will need to prove his worth on special teams if he wants to make the 53-man roster. However, his ability to separate from defensive backs and make plays in traffic could separate him from the other young receiver types in camp. Odds suggest Lewis is practice squad material, but if he can shake off the injury bug that plagued him last season at ECU and get after it throughout training camp, well see.Pro Football Weekly on Lewis: Lean, long-limbed, long-striding, junior-college product and X receiver with smooth athletic ability. However, he did not elevate his game as a senior and finished the season on the injured list, failing to provide reason to overlook inconsistent hands, finesse mentality and questionable intangibles.

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Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ ugly 20-10 win vs. the Giants.

A Win is a Win:
If you are worried about style points you are doing it wrong. This was a banged up team on a short week playing for its life. Perhaps a better start would have made for a more comfortable win but they got done what they needed to do.

Jamison Crowder is on a Roll
:
He gained a career-high 141 yards on seven receptions. The yardage broke his career high of 123 that he set in Week 8. The third-year receiver got off to very slow start, not posting over 52 yards in any game.

But he has broken out of his slump in a big way and Kirk Cousins is very glad to see it.

Perine is Ready:
The rookie was elevated into the starting role after Rob Kelley went onto injured reserve two weeks ago. His importance elevated when Chris Thompson went out for the year with a broken leg.

Fortunately for the Redskins, his play has elevated since becoming the starter. He rushed for 117 yards against the Saints on Sunday. Thursday, four days later, he couldn’t get anything going in the first half, gaining only three yards on seven carries. But he got rolling in the second half and finished with 100 yards on 24 carries.

The Redskins may well have lost this game if Perine, the only back who was on the roster as of three weeks ago, had not gotten himself on track.

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

Defense Got Help: 
Eli Manning passed for 113 yards. Only six times in his career, which spans 211 games, has he thrown for fewer yards. There are three entities mainly responsible for Eli’s woes. The Redskins defense did a good job of putting pressure on him and for the most part the back seven played well in coverage. But Eli himself contributed to his own production problems.

On many occasions he had time to throw and a receiver open but he either sailed the ball well over the receiver’s head or threw it in the ground. Finally, when Manning did have time and delivered the ball on the money, his receivers frequently were unable to find the handle; there were several costly drops.

RELATED: BIGGEST UP'S AND DOWN'S FROM REDSKINS-GIANTS

There is Hope:
It’s too early in the weekend to go into much detail about the Redskins chances of making the playoffs but the losses earlier in the day by the Lions and Cowboys certainly helped.

It’s still a tough path to navigate.

But they did what they needed to do today in winning one of six games that looked winnable earlier this week. All they can do is try to get a winning streak together and they did all they could do in that regard on Thanksgiving.

Now it’s on to Dallas to see if they can take the next step.

MORE: THIS ONE THROW SHOWS HOW COUSINS IS EVOLVING

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

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Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

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USA TODAY Sports

Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

LANDOVER — At times during the Redskins' 20-10 Thanksgiving night victory over the Giants, Kirk Cousins and Washington's offense performed at a level somewhere between sloppy nausea-inducing.

There was that awful sequence where the offense botched a fourth-and-1 more than they normally do.

There was also No. 8's slightly off-target throw to a running back he barely knows that ended up as six points for New York. And there were plenty less notable, but still gross, plays before and after those.

But Cousins' first touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder was far from gross. It was beautiful. It was creative.

And it showed how the 29-year-old is still developing as a quarterback:

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

"The touchdown he had to Crowder was one of his best touchdown passes that I've seen since I've been here," Jay Gruden said about it afterward.

He's right.

By now, you know the boxes that Cousins checks off as a passer. He has the requisite arm strength. He's usually able to move an offense, even one like the Redskins' 2017 version that includes a ton of spare parts, up and down the field. He has the work ethic and leadership skills. 

But a common knock against him is that he can't extend a play and find a receiver when things aren't there during his initial dropback. And that weakness becomes a glaring one in the red zone.

Yet on Thanksgiving night, there Cousins was, avoiding an edge rusher, stepping up, rolling right and then nailing Crowder right on the numbers for a crucial TD. Like his head coach, Cousins was proud of how that score unfolded.

"I felt some pressure so I just tried to escape up and to the right and kept my eyes down field," he said. "I think just the longer I play, I'll get a better feel for how to move and escape."

MORE: ALL OF THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE THANKSGIVING WIN

Cousins' final stats don't stack up to some of his past performances, such as his Week 11 effort in New Orleans where he shined or his pretty perfect evening vs. the Raiders in Week 3. Regardless, this one was encouraging in its own way, because it provided another grlimpse at how the signal caller is becoming more comfortable when things around him become uncomfortable.

Like most of his fellow starters in the league, Cousins has flaws. But the more he plays, the more those flaws diminish. Gruden sees it, he sees it, and you should see it, too.