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With RG3 staying, pressure is on Cousins to perform

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With RG3 staying, pressure is on Cousins to perform

The big news Saturday morning was the Redskins’ decision to keep Robert Griffin III on the 53-man roster. 

The big unknown, though, is what effect, if any, the move is going to have on Kirk Cousins, who was installed as the team’s starter by Coach Jay Gruden last week.

Cousins is Gruden’s guy for now, but it’s possible he’ll struggle to completely emerge from Griffin’s shadow. Obviously, Griffin still has support from powerful people within the organization, hence the decision to keep him.

MORE REDSKINS: TANDLER'S PROS & CONS TO KEEPING RG3 

According to NFL.com, Griffin is expected to be listed second on the Redskins’ depth chart this season behind Cousins and ahead of Colt McCoy. The report adds that McCoy will serve as the backup in Week 1 due to concerns about Griffin’s health, though there could be a change in that order after the Miami game.

If that change in order does happen, and Griffin suits up on gamedays as Cousins’ backup this season, the dynamic instantly changes. McCoy is a journeyman. Griffin is a former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick.  

Could Griffin's presence as the No. 2 create a distraction for Cousins? Could it cause the newly anointed starter peer over his shoulder following an interception or stalled drive? Will FedEx Field erupt into chants of “RG3!” if things go poorly for Cousins?

They're all valid questions because it’s not like Cousins has a long and successful track record. Cousins, like Griffin, is still trying to establish himself four years into his NFL career. The last time we saw Cousins in a game that mattered, in fact, was against Tennessee last October. He finished that afternoon on the bench, pulled at halftime by Gruden when he fired another risky pass after being intercepted on a previous drive.

One criticism of Cousins has been his ability to respond to adversity and perform under pressure. And with Griffin in uniform and a snap away from playing, there is going to be pressure.

“You know, it could be,” Gruden acknowledged recently, asked if Griffin's presence might be an issue for Cousins. “But I think Kirk has been here long enough and everyone understands the dynamic that Robert brings. He’s a high profile player and deservedly so. He’s done a lot of great things in his career. But moving forward, when you’re the starting quarterback, it’s your job to keep that job and you can’t let outside noise influence you as a football player.” 

“So,” Gruden continued, “I think Kirk is strong enough to handle it and I know if there’s an incompletion or interception, there could be some chatter about, ‘Put Robert in,’ or what have you. But we’re not worried about that.”

There’s really only one way to prevent that from becoming a real concern—and that’s to make McCoy the back up on Sundays. Because if you’ve spent any time at all in Washington, then you already know that most popular player on the Redskins’ roster is often the No. 2 quarterback.

And you can multiply that popularity by 10 if that backup is Robert Griffin III.

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2018 NFL Power Rankings: Redskins rising, Jaguars falling

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USA Today

2018 NFL Power Rankings: Redskins rising, Jaguars falling

The Rams continue to roll and that means the 1972 Miami Dolphins still have their champagne on ice.

The debate for the top team in the NFL is simple. The debate over who is the worst team... now that is interesting.

CLICK HERE FOR WEEK 8 POWER RANKINGS

The Cardinals, Raiders, 49ers, Giants, and Bills could all make a case for the worst team in the NFL. At times, it seems like all those teams would like to earn that spot.

The Redskins have now won two straight and visit the 1-6 Giants this weekend. Could the 'Skins have a winning streak come Sunday afternoon? 

As manager Lou Brown reminded us in Major League II,  "if we win one tomorrow that's called a winning streak. It has happened before."

What has happened to the Jaguars? I know there were plenty of questions about Blake Bortles but to be outscored 90-28 over the past three weeks? That dominating victory over the Patriots feels like a long time ago.

CLICK HERE FOR WEEK 8 POWER RANKINGS

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Expect Redskins to bring back Trey Quinn next week as Jamison Crowder's status remains unclear

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Expect Redskins to bring back Trey Quinn next week as Jamison Crowder's status remains unclear

The Redskins need help at wide receiver, and while head coach Jay Gruden allowed a potential trade might bolster the group, the return of rookie Trey Quinn might do the same. 

Quinn landed on the injured reserve after the season opener in Arizona when he injured his ankle on a punt return. The IR designation means Quinn must miss eight weeks of action but can return after that period. 

"We’ll get Trey Quinn back here pretty soon," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Quinn could be back as early as Week 9 against Atlanta, and it sounds like Gruden expects to see him then.

A record setter at SMU and the final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Quinn's return could immediately help the Redskins at their inside slot receiver position. Jamison Crowder has missed the last two games for Washington, and reports say he could miss a few more weeks. 

Of the trio of injured Redskins skill players, Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson, and Crowder, Gruden said the slot WR has "probably got the furthest to go" before he can return from injury. Last week, Crowder was spotted in the Redskins practice facility riding a scooter and with a boot on his ankle. 

With Crowder out an elongated period of time, Quinn could step right in. Both on the smaller side and more quick than fast, Quinn is best suited to play the inside receiver position and can also return punts.

Asked if Quinn is a natural fit to fill in for Crowder, Gruden replied, "exactly right."

Fellow rookie receiver Cam Sims also landed on the IR after Week 1, but Gruden did not indicate that he would be brought back on the same timeline as Quinn. 

"We’ll probably just take one of them. Right now I think Trey is probably closer to returning than Cam ."

NFL rules stipulate that the team can bring only two players back from the injured reserve over the course of a season. So if the 'Skins bring back Quinn as soon as he is eligible next week, it makes sense for the organization to wait before using their final retrievable IR slot on another wide receiver.

Gruden's comments make two things clear: The organization sees Quinn back on the 53-man roster ASAP, and Crowder's return seems to be a serious question mark. 

Washington also seems likely to have a roster spot for Quinn next week. Special teams ace Jehu Chesson has already been up and down on the Redskins roster twice, and it would be little surprise if Quinn's return means Chesson gets released. Should that happen, Washington might again try to bring Chesson back to their practice squad. 

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