A few questions will be answered as the Redskins start up their OTAs today in Ashburn. At a handful of positions, it will be interesting to see who lines up with the first team. While jobs that are up for grabs are not won in May with the opening game 111 days away, lining up with the first team sends a signal that it is the players job to lose.That can be the case even when the job is a backup role. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger will be sitting out as he rehabs his injured knee. Does Maurice Hurt, who filled in there for the last half of the season, line up at left guard in Lichtensteigers absence? Or will it perhaps be rookie Josh LeRibeus?There is no question about who we will see with the first unit at quarterback. And it is likely that Robert Griffin III will be handing the ball off to Roy Helu Jr. The anticipated battle for the starting running back job between Helu and Tim Hightower will not take place until training camp as Hightower recovers from a knee injury.One third of the teams trio of top receivers will be sidelined today. Leonard Hankersons surgically-repaired hip isnt recovered enough for football activities so hell watch Pierre Garon and Josh Morgan catch passes from RG3. Santana Moss should be the third wide receiver but that spot will bear watching. If Anthony Armstrong or Aldrick Robinson gets significant time there, that could be a sign that the team is looking at moving on without Moss. That is not expected but there is always a surprise or two during this part of the year.Adam Carriker has been the staring left defensive end for the past two years. Jarvis Jenkins was drafted in the second round a year ago to take his place. Jenkins suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game so the plans were put on hold for a season. Will Jenkins line up with the first team today?The rest of the defensive front seven is pretty well set as are the starting cornerbacks. But when they line up with three corners, who goes in with Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall? Will it be Kevin Barnes, who held the nickel corner job las year? Or Cedric Griffin, the veteran free agent signed in March?Finally, who does secondary coach Raheem Morris line up at safety? It seems likely that Tanard Jackson, who followed Morris here from the Bucs, will get one of the spots. Will the other safety be be free agent Brandon Meriweather? Or will DeJon Gomes get the first crack at holding on to the job he had at the end of last season?Again, nothing is set in stone in May. But any player would rather be working with the first team than not.
It's only Week 7, but Kirk Cousins is putting up numbers that's proving to the Redskins and other teams around the league that he's worth a big contract.
In five games, Cousins has 1,334 yards and nine touchdowns with a QB rating of 106.4.
And he's proving that he's comfortable making plays on his own. During the second half of Sunday's game against the 49ers, Cousins scored a read option touchdown pushing his team ahead 27-17.
Someone who's impressed with what he's seen thus far and even threw out the word 'monstrous' when referring to the contract Cousins will eventually get, is former Redskins QB and NFL analyst, Sage Rosenfels.
Oh, and he also had a really long list of nice things to say about Cousins.
"Well he is an efficient quarterback and that's what he is," Rosenfels told the Sports Junkies Tuesday.
"He's a guy that you can count on to do what he's expected to do. He's gonna go to the right reads. He's gonna be an accurate thrower. He generally takes care of the football. He's an executer. He's a guy I describe as an executer. He's not a play maker, per say, though he has slowly added that to his repertoire."
"He is an executer though and I don't know if there's many better in the league who when you drop back and go through the progressions and have to read defenses, he's up there probably in the top five in the league at that. He's extremely accurate and he knows what he is doing."
Having your quarterback described as an executer over and over again isn't the worst thing in the world to hear.
When it comes to the business side of things, Rosenfels may also want to use the word 'smart' to describe Cousins.
"Good for him for signing those one-year deals. He bet on himself and now you know next year, whether it's Washington or somewhere else, he's going to get an absolute monstrous contract."
Contract negotiations are probably the last thing Redskins fans want to hear right now, but one thing to bask in is a successful QB.
The 2017 Redskins appear to be playing at a much higher level than the 2016 Redskins, but the reality remains, through five games, the two teams have the exact same 3-2 record.
Sure, this year's defense seems to be playing much better. The Redskins rank 12th in yards allowed-per-game and 19th in points allowed-per-game. Want to hear something weird though? The 2016 defense ranked 19th in points allowed-per-game too.
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There are plenty more statistical anomalies like that, perhaps enough to give Redskins fans pause. Or maybe trends that will work back closer to the norm as the season progresses. Here are five weird ones:
- End zone problems continue - The New York Giants are off to an awful start at 1-5. Big Blue has a -27 point differential on the year, and the team has scored just 12 touchdowns. The Redskins have been much better than the Giants, own a 3-2 record, and a +4 point differential. Washington, however, has just 13 TDs, or one more than the lowly Giants. In the NFC, along with the Giants, only the Niners, Seahawks and Panthers have less TDs than the 'Skins.
- Unexpected weapon - Through five games, the Redskins are getting excellent production out of the tight end position. It just might not be the player many expected doing the producing. Pro Bowler Jordan Reed is off to a fine start, 18 catches for 142 yards in just four games, but Vernon Davis is the tight end providing big plays. On just 11 catches, Davis has 225 receiving yards, good for a 20.5 yards-per-catch average. Last season, Davis caught 44 balls for 543 yards. He's nearly halfway to that total in just five games this season.
- Easily the most valuable - Chris Thompson's productivity through five games is on a historic pace. With 515 total yards from scrimmage, he currently accounts for nearly 30 percent of the Redskins 1,871 total yards. For Kirk Cousins, Thompson is nearly as important. The quarterback has thrown for 1,334 yards so far this year. Of that yardage, more than 25 percent belongs to Thompson. Think about that: 1 out of every 4 yards Cousins throws for goes to Thompson. And the bulk of that comes on short throws, where Thompson then takes off and piles up yards after the catch. In fact, Thompson leads the NFL in yards-after-catch, per ESPN.
Redskins RB Chris Thompson has 329 receiving yards after the catch this season, 77 more than any other player in the NFL.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 16, 2017
- Snap out of it - Preston Smith showed tremendous talent as a rookie in 2015, logging eight sacks and coming on strong late in the Redskins NFC East title run. As a second-year player in 2016, the sacks didn't pile up so easy. He finished the year with 4.5, a disappointing step back for Smith. In 2017, the slump is over. Smith has at least a half sack in every game this season, and has been a force on the outside for the Redskins.
- Don't count the wideouts - Much talk this offseason centered on losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon and replacing them with Josh Doctson and Terrelle Pryor. The results through five games have been underwhelming. Of the Redskins top five receiving yard leaders, only two are receivers, and Doctson isn't even over 100 yards receiving for the year. Further, Jamison Crowder, a player expected by many to have a breakout season, has 121 yards through five games. Eventually, Cousins can't keep relying on Thompson so much, and the team will need more out of the wideouts.
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