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Five things to watch when the Redskins host the Lions

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Five things to watch when the Redskins host the Lions

A week after opening the preseason with a 20-17 victory in Cleveland, the Redskins return to FedEx Field on Thursday night to host the Lions on CSN. Redskins Kickoff begins at 6:30 p.m., the game starts at 7:30 and Redskins Postgame Live gets underway immediately afterward.  

Here are Tarik’s five areas to watch:

1) Robert Griffin III. Starters are expected to play at least a quarter, according to Coach Jay Gruden. So Griffin figures to get an extended opportunity to build on last week’s performance. Against the Browns, Griffin was 4 of 8 passing for 36 yards in 19 snaps, and was a dropped deep pass away from a more impressive day. His pocket presence seemed to be somewhat improved and he appeared a bit more confident and decisive. But he also failed to lead a touchdown drive, which is notable because he didn’t direct one in three exhibition games last year, either. He’ll get the chance to end that drought against a Lions' team that throttled the Jets, 23-3, in their exhibition opener.   

2) Special teams. Where to begin? Andre Roberts fumbled during a punt return against the Browns, while his replacement, Chris Thompson, later muffed one. The kick coverage team yielded a 54-yard return to open the second half. Cleveland’s kickers forced three touchdowns on four kickoffs, while the Redskins’ kickers had none on five. The lone bright spot was Kai Forbath's 52-yard field goal. So, yeah, coordinator Ben Kotwica and his players have got some work to do.

3) Colt McCoy. The 28-year-old will be the first quarterback off the bench when Griffin and the starters get pulled. Listed as the third stringer on the Redskins’ unofficial depth chart, McCoy needs a strong performance to keep pace with Kirk Cousins in the battle for the backup job. “It’s an open competition for those guys,” Gruden said. “They’re both doing some great things in practice.” Cousins has been the better player thus far in camp and he enjoyed a strong performance against the Browns, completing 12 of 14 pass attempts for 154 yards while simultaneously putting some additional pressure on McCoy.

4) The first team defense. Although the backups finished strong in Cleveland, the starters will want to get off to a better start against the Matthew Stafford-led Lions. Aided by a pass interference call on Chris Culliver, the Browns’ starting offense marched 75 yards on nine plays to open an early 7-0 lead. Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown went 5 of 5 passing for 33 and a touchdown on the drive.

5) The Redskins figure to be without several starters due to injury. Among those expected to be out are wide receivers DeSean Jackson (shoulder) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring), tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (knee). Meantime, cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe) wants to play, but his status may not be known until game time. 

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Jay Gruden pushes back on report that he's not involved, feels 'on board' as a decision-maker

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Jay Gruden pushes back on report that he's not involved, feels 'on board' as a decision-maker

Reports surfaced last week that Jay Gruden was "not being consulted" on much of the Redskins' offseason decision-making. That was something that apparently was really frustrating the head coach, too.

On Tuesday, Gruden had a chance to respond to those reports. While speaking to the media in Arizona at the NFL's annual meetings, he explained how Washington executes signings and also that some discord is totally normal.

"Everybody has their opinions, but at the end of the day, we give our reports, we give our recommendations, we have our say," Gruden said. "Guys are signed, we're happy with the guys we signed. In a perfect world, sure, I'd like to have total control. But I don't, that's just not my position and I accept that."

"There's a move or two I might be surprised by," he later added. "But for the most part, I'm on board for all of them. It works out fine. Frustration sometimes may set in from time to time for a move or two, but at the end of the day, I know that I'm on board."

Eric Bickel of the Sports Junkies reported that Gruden found out about the critical Landon Collins signing via a media member, as opposed to knowing about it beforehand. Gruden downplayed that, however, calling Collins' acquisition the franchise's "ultimate goal" in free agency and one he was supportive of.

"I am not in on negotiations at all, so a lot of times I won't know that we signed a guy," he said. "That's just natural."

Overall, improved communication is something Gruden has wanted for some time throughout the organization. With that being said, perhaps this is just the way things have worked and will continue to work in Ashburn.

Regardless of how much his voice is being heard before certain moves are made, though, Gruden sounded much more focused on how the Redskins will win in 2019. He should be, too, considering how much pressure he's facing.

"I'll coach whoever's on the dang field," he concluded.

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Colt McCoy drinks a gallon of milk every day and you'll never believe where it apparently comes from

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Colt McCoy drinks a gallon of milk every day and you'll never believe where it apparently comes from

PHOENIX - Colt McCoy drinks a gallon of milk every day. And it's not pastuerized either. 

If that sounds weird, imagine being seated next to Jay Gruden when he looks you in the eye and says, "Right out of the teat."

The crowd gathered around the Redskins head coach broke out in laughter, but for me particularly, I nearly lost it. It was simultaneously the most fun and weirdest moment of my reporting career.

The milk talk started because McCoy was spotted on crutches last weekend during an Indy Car race. That was weird because McCoy's injury came in December, and he was walking around the locker room just a few weeks later.

In fact, Gruden revealed that the team probably pushed too hard to get McCoy back for the end of the 2018 campaign when the team was still miraculously in the playoff hunt, and that's why the quarterback needed surgery now on the leg. 

It doesn't sound great, honestly.

But don't worry, because McCoy drinks a gallon of milk every day. He should have strong bones. 

It was Gruden being Gruden. It was a joke with a tinge of seriousness. He's funny and does his best to be optimistic in all situations, even when the Redskins injury situation continues to be severe. 

At some point, we will have to ask McCoy about his milk intake. And we will certainly have to ask if the milk really does come right from the teat. 

Meanwhile, I never thought I would type the word teat in a football story. Never.

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