Top storyline: It's quarterback Kirk Cousins and whether this will be his last season in Washington. The Redskins failed to reach a long-term deal with Cousins by the July 17 deadline, so now there’s a chance he will be a free agent in the 2018 offseason. He can aid himself by helping the Redskins maintain a strong passing attack despite the loss of receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Make no mistake: Washington has firepower, but it also has two receivers with no experience (Terrelle Pryor) or very little (Josh Doctson) playing with Cousins. No excuses, though. If Cousins wants the (really, really) big bucks, he must deliver.
Joey Mbu, A.J. Francis and Phil Taylor could win a job in camp at nose tackle. Taylor will be one to watch this summer, to see what he has left. He hasn't played since 2014 because of injuries, but he did look in good shape this spring. Mbu worked ahead of him in the spring, but camp will tell all. McGee, Ioannidis and McClain can play nose, as well.
Cousins' brilliant play has almost become a sideshow to the drama over his contract. But over the last two seasons, Cousins has racked up 54 touchdowns against just 23 interceptions while completing over 68 percent of his passes. The numbers get even more impressive the further you dive in, specifically with regard to his last 26 regular-season games, in which the TD-to-INT ratio jumps to 48:15 and his passer rating hovers around 104. Cousins continues to improve, with the uptick in his play commensurate with having now started more than 30 games.
Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under
OLB Preston Smith–When he is on, few are better. When he’s off, he can disappear for games on end. Consistency is the key for Smith this year. If he catches on and starts playing at his best all the time, he may be in line for a lucrative contract extension next offseason. If he falters, Trent Murphy, Junior Galette, and Ryan Anderson all will be waiting to lay claim to his snaps.