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Torain could face old team

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Torain could face old team

The Redskins may or may not see a familiar face when they take on the Giants on Monday night.

The Giants were short at running back with Andre Brown out with a broken leg and so they signed Ryan Torain to a contract.

Torain was the Redskins’ leading rusher in 2010 with 742 yards on 164 carries. He was just 24 and, more importantly, he had only 15 NFL carries’ worth of wear and tear on his body when he came to the Redskins as a free agent. It looked like the Redskins were set at the position for the next few years.

But apparently Mike Shanahan didn’t think so. He drafted two running backs, Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster, in the 2011 draft and traded for Cardinals running back Tim Hightower just as training camp started.

Torain didn’t help himself by suffering a broken hand in non-contact work early in camp. That sidelined him for most of August and bolstered his reputation for being injury prone. By the time he was well enough to play, Hightower was established as the starter.

Torain got his first carries of the season in the Redskins’ fourth game of the season and he made the most of it as he picked up 135 yards on 19 carries. But even after Hightower was lost for the season with a knee injury, rookies Helu and Royster got most of the carries. Torain didn’t gain more than 22 yards rushing in a game the rest of the year and he was released just before the end of the season.

Torain’s phone didn’t ring as teams went through OTA’s, minicamps, and training camp. He finally landed with a team this week when the Giants tried him out and then signed him after Brown’s injury.

“I was kind of really surprised that he was on the street as long as he was,” said Mike Shanahan. “I think the one thing he’s going to look for, is a guy that can make people miss, a guy that can carry the football and he’s a great kid.”

Torain was confident that he would eventually get another chance. “[I] just had to be patient with it at home and stay focused,” he said.

He spent two seasons with Mike and Kyle Shanahan in Washington and spent his rookie year with Mike in Denver after he was a fifth-round pick of the Broncos in 2008 so he normally might be expected to provide some inside information on the Redskins’ offense to his new team.

However, the Redskins’ offense in 2012 has been so radically revamped to take advantage of the unique skills of Robert Griffin III that it bears only some resemblance to the scheme in which Torain worked.

“No,” said Torain when asked about the possibility of him giving tips on the Washington offense. “We all watch film. We all see what they can do.”

There is a distinct possibility that Torain will be watching the game from the sidelines. Brown played special teams for the Giants while Torain does not. Kregg Lumpkin, the other running back the Giants signed in the wake of Brown’s injury, does play teams. So, if they only keep three running backs active, the third back behind Ahmad Bradshaw and David Wilson is likely to be Lumpkin.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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.

In case you missed it

 

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a 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."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.