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Eagles game a big opportunity for Cousins to redeem himself

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Eagles game a big opportunity for Cousins to redeem himself

The Redskins (1-2) missed out on a huge opportunity in the Meadowlands a little more than a week ago. But there’s good news: they have another chance to gain a foothold in the NFC East when Sam Bradford and the Eagles (1-2) visit FedEx Field on Sunday.

Before the game, be sure to catch Redskins Kickoff on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic at noon. We’ve also got you covered after the game; Redskins Postgame Live begins at 4.

Here are Tarik’s five areas to monitor:  

1-Kirk Cousins needs a bounceback performance after last week’s 32-21 loss to the Giants. He threw two interceptions for the second time in three games, including a baffling decision deep in Washington’s end that helped the Giants open an early 9-0 and forced the Redskins away from their game plan. Cousins also missed a handful of open receivers. Coach Jay Gruden reiterated his confidence in Cousins this week, saying he and his assistants are seeing gradual improvement from the fourth-year signal caller. But, as we all know, this is a bottom line kind of league, for quarterbacks and coaches alike. Cousins will face a Kiko Alonso-less Eagles' defense that defense ranks 24th against the pass, seventh against the run and is allowing 21 points per game (11th).   

2-The Redskins are second in yards allowed per game (277.3) and eighth in points permitted per game (19.7), which signals significant improvement over last year. Buuuuut…there are a couple of key areas where the unit must get better. Washington is tied for 21st in sacks with only four, with starting outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy accounting for 0.5 sacks between them. In the takeaway department, the defense has one fumble recovery and no interceptions. The Jaguars are the only other team with just one takeaway. Overall, the Redskins’ turnover differential is minus-5. That, obviously, is not sustainable. Asked what he wants to see from the pass rush on Sunday, Gruden said: “More of it.” Bradford has been sacked only twice but he’s tied with Cousins with four interceptions (only four quarterbacks have tossed more.)

3-The Redskins’ special teams were a mixed bag last week at MetLife Stadium. Rashad Ross returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown, Washington’s first since 2010. But the unit also yielded a blocked punt that resulted in a safety and an early 2-0 deficit. On Sunday, they’ll face another challenge: Philadelphia’s 5-foot-6 punt returner Darren Sproles, who is one of six players who have returned a punt for a score this season. “I’ve never been around a player that works as hard, trains as hard, prepares as well as Darren prepares,” Eagles Coach Chip Kelly told Washington reporters this week. “What you see on Sundays is what we see every day in our training sessions with him.” Earlier this week, the Redskins signed free agent Mason Foster in an effort to provide depth at inside linebacker and bolster punt protection.   

4-One of the biggest areas of concern for the Redskins this week figures to be the banged up secondary. Starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall is already sidelined for a few weeks because of a toe injury and now Chris Culliver is battling some swelling in his left knee. Gruden is hopeful that Culliver will play, but the coach acknowledged that it’s always worrying when a player can’t practice on the Thursday before a game. If Culliver is able to suit up, he’ll start alongside Bashaud Breeland, who is still looking to get into his groove. If Culliver doesn’t play, well, that would be suboptimal to say the least. Gruden should provide another update on Culliver’s status after practice on Friday.    

Culliver isn’t the Redskins’ only injury concern, of course. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) has been sidelined since Week 1 and, although he was not ruled out on Thursday, it would be a long shot for him to suit up. The status of inside linebacker Perry Riley (calf) is also in doubt after he missed practice on Thursday.

5-Ask Gruden and he’ll tell you Sunday’s game will come down to who runs the ball more effectively and who stops the run more effectively. It’s hard to argue with that assessment. In the Redskins’ victory over the Rams, Matt Jones and Alfred Morris racked up 182 yards on 37 carries and a pair of rushing touchdowns (both belonging to Jones). That’s what the Redskins want to be on offense, and they must get back to it. Philadelphia’s ground game, on the other hand, has yet to get going. DeMarco Murray (11 yards on 21 carries) missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury and is expected be a game-time decision Sunday. With Murray scratched in last week’s 24-17 win over the Jets, Ryan Mathews carried the load, running for 108 yards on 24 carries. “They’re going to try and run it on us obviously,” Gruden said. “How we stop the run will be how the game goes. How we run the ball will be how the game goes.” 

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins’ Jones doesn't want to overthink ball security

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 16-30

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 16-30

At NBCSportsWashington.com, we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) right after minicamp.

Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2018 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings between now and the start of training camp. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-16>>

Today we are continuing to reveal the list of the players we ranked from 16-30.

Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—The team’s top draft pick (but not the second pick, who is in a higher-ranked group).  

—Two of the anticipated starting offensive linemen

—The team’s leading rusher from 2016

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 REDSKINS RANKINGS, PLAYERS 53-16>>

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10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

10 Questions in 10 days: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No Redskins receiver broke the 1,000-yard mark in 2017, and bluntly, the receiver position did not unfold like the front office designed.

Terrelle Pryor proved a free agent flop, and while Josh Doctson flashed talent, the consistency did not follow. Jamison Crowder led Washington with 789 receiving yards while 34-year-old tight end Vernon Davis was the team's second-leading receiver. 

The Redskins need more at wideout in 2018, and the front office acted on it. 

The team signed Paul Richardson in free agency, and advanced statistics suggest he could make an impact right away. Richardson has vertical speed in a way the organization hasn't had since DeSean Jackson went to Tampa two seasons ago. 

Doctson could emerge as a true No. 1 WR, and Richardson's speed will help. Sources inside Redskins Park question if Doctson is the type of wideout that can beat cornerbacks off the line. Instead, the team believes Doctson is best when using his athleticism to go up and get balls. That skill set was best illustrated for Doctson in the end zone, where he grabbed six TDs last season. 

Crowder could again lead the Redskins in receiving yards. New QB Alex Smith likes to look to his inside receivers, and with defenses having to account for more speed on the field in Richardson, Crowder should get plenty of open looks. 

Ultimately, the question is if the Redskins will have a 1,000-yard receiver. The answer is an unknown, but the evidence suggests they won't.

No 1,000-yard wideout does not spell doom for Washington. In the last two seasons, eight of 12 NFC playoff teams had a receiver get into four digits. Among the teams that did not get that kind of production from one wide receiver: 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. Remember, that team won the Super Bowl. 

Further down the roster, Washington has contributors but unlikely a breakout star. Maurice Harris has great hands and Robert Davis has shown plenty of athleticism, but significant production would be a surprise. Rookie Trey Quinn could be a player that helps the 'Skins, particularly should Crowder get banged up this year like he did last year, but a 1,000-yard season for a 7th-round rookie seems pretty absurd. 

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