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Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—Will things start to click for Cousins?

Need to Know: Around Redskins Park—Will things start to click for Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 23, two days before the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice, noon; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay press conferences, player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Ravens 16; Eagles @ Redskins 24

Thoughts from around Redskins Park

—Will things just suddenly click for Kirk Cousins like they seemed to last year? If I had to bet I’d say yes but it’s no sure thing. There is a concern that defenses have figure out what he does well and are taking that away. That makes some sense but it doesn’t account for plays like the overthrow of the pass to Crowder on the first drive or firing a pass right to the safety when he should have thrown it into the stands. It doesn't seem to be anything that can’t be fixed but he needs to hurry up and fix it.

—Will the Redskins be able to run the ball against the Giants? Based on the small sample size so far this year, probably not. David “Snacks” Harrison has done a good job of shoring up the middle of what was a soft defense last year and the Giants have given up just 77 yards per game. For their part, the Redskins have rushed for 68 yards per game, 26th in the NFL. But Washington is seventh in the league in yards per carry at 4.7. Perhaps if they actually try running the ball—they are dead last in the league with 29 attempts—they just might have some success.

—So who starts at nose tackle now that Kedric Golston is out for the season? According to the unofficial depth chart it’s Cullen Jenkins, who is backed up by Ziggy Hood (who is the co-starter at right DE along with Ricky Jean Francois). But they haven’t really started a nose tackle in either of their two games so far. Against both the Cowboys and Steelers they opened in nickel with two defensive linemen. The identity of the starting nose tackle seems to be something of an academic point. According to Jay Gruden, Hood, Jenkins, Chris Baker, Francois, and rookie Matt Ionnidis all can play the nose. But with the Giants being a predominantly passing team they are likely to open in nickel again.

—It doesn’t look like there are any personnel changes in the secondary on tap for Sunday. The word around Redskins Park is that David Bruton will remain the starting strong safety and Dashaun Phillips is going to stay at nickel cornerback. It’s tough to draw the line where you stop giving a guy a chance to get his feet under him and when you just have to move on a try somebody else. At 0-2 the Redskins are close to that line but they don’t think that they are there yet.

—It will be interesting to see if Josh Doctson continues to get more snaps. He played 12 against the Steelers, many of them in garbage time after the outcome was decided, and then 19 against the Cowboys in a game where every snap was meaningful. And as Doctson’s playing time goes up, whose will go down? It could be Pierre Garçon, although his snaps increased from 40 to 49 from the first game to the second. But between Garçon and Jackson the former seems to be the least likely to return and if they are going to start getting the receiving corps ready for next year they might as well start now.

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

Terrelle Pryor made a number of highlight reel catches last year during training camp, and it appears the Redskins defense didn't like it. 

Washington's marquee free agent signing last season, Pryor came into Richmond with sky-high expectations. Throughout the training sessions last August, Pryor put on one-handed displays at the Jugs machine and often made big catches in team drills. It's also important to remember there was never any live tackling during these drills, leaving defenders at a distinct disadvantage. 

Zach Brown remembers the scene quite well, and thinks it will look very different this summer when Pryor comes to Richmond as a member of the New York Jets. 

"That’s going to be something right there. The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now," Brown said on Inside the Locker Room on the Team 980 (full audio here).

Brown explained that Redskins coach Jay Gruden would not allow the defense to hit Pryor last year, even when the wideout did some showboating. 

"Jay ain't here to protect you anymore," Brown said.

The Redskins linebacker explained that he tried to explain to Pryor that the one-handed catches from training camp would not translate in the NFC East, where players get hit hard. It doesn't seem like Pryor listened, as he finished the season with only 240 receiving yards on 20 catches in nine games. 

"The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year," Brown said. He added, "Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm."

One incident that supports Brown's comments came when Bashaud Breeland got thrown off the practice field last training camp. Breeland got mad that he wasn't allowed to get physical with Pryor at the line of scrimmage, and the scene blew up. Breeland eventually got sent off the field after arguing with coaches. 

The Jets visit the Redskins for three days of practices beginning August 12th. The two teams then square off in the second preseason game on August 16th. 

Brown will get his chance at Pryor, assuming the wideout plays. Pryor finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve, but is expected to be fine once training camp begins in New York. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 17, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best Redskins players 25 or younger

Here is a look at the best Redskins players who have played at least one season and will be 25 or younger as of Week 1 this year. 

WR Jamison Crowder, 25 as of Week 1—Crowder hit the ground running in his first year, with 59 receptions, a team rookie record, and gaining 604 yards. He has been very dependable in his three years, averaging 64 catches, 747 yards, and four receiving touchdowns per year. 

OLB Preston Smith, 25—Since he came into the league, no player but Smith has at least 20.5 sacks, three or more interceptions, and four or more forced fumbles. His sack numbers tend to be up and down from week to week, but Jay Gruden has said more than once that Smith is very consistent in getting pressure on the quarterback even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. 

DL Matt Ioannidis, 24—A year ago it was thought that he would face an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Now goes into the season as a starter and key contributor. The 2016 fifth-round pick got much stronger between his first and second seasons and he took well to the coaching of new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Only a broken hand that cost him two games and had him playing with an awkward cast for a few more kept him from threatening to make double-digit sacks. 

DL Jonathan Allen, 23—The Redskins were just starting to get a hint of what Allen could do early in the season. Pro Football Focus credited him with a total of three sacks in the Redskins third and fourth games. But in their fifth game, he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. Allen was a full go for the offseason program and there is no reason to think that he won’t pick back up right where he left off. 

S Montae Nicholson, 22—Like Allen, Nicholson’s rookie season was shortened due to injuries. He took advantage of the absence of anticipated starter Su’a Cravens and made an impact from the beginning. While the 2017 fourth-round pick and free-agent pickup D.J. Swearinger were in the lineup the decade-long struggles the Redskins have had at the safety position were suddenly gone. 

Best of the rest: WR Josh Doctson (25), C Chase Roullier (25)

It should be noted that DL Daron Payne turned 21 in May and RB Derrius Guice will the 21 later this month so they could be joining this list soon. Assuming those two start, the Redskins will have nine quality starters aged 25 or younger this year. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder was born on this date in 1993. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 39
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 53
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 76

The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 84 days. 

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