Gruden knows how to call plays -- it's among the reasons he became a head coach. Cousins knows how to execute. But they still must build a rapport and rhythm. If they're in sync, or not, it could be at least a little factor in Cousins' desire to stick around long term.
They've worked quite a bit together in the offseason and before the injury in camp. Missing the practice time hurts, but they also need to work on connecting at game speed. The Redskins can't be cautious with Doctson because of his Achilles' issues. That's a tough way to operate and the injuries aren't connected. They do have to be cautious because of how hamstring injuries can become worse.
“How we adjust, how we plan and how he adjusts to each different protection is going to be how successful he can be as a running back in the NFL,” Gruden said. “Chris Thompson obviously is as good as anybody, but we’ve got to get another guy to be able to step up and do that. And that’s hard. We change protections at the line of scrimmage like that ... and they have to adjust -- not only adjust to the right person, but adjust and get their body in the right spot and then finish the block.”
Coupled with the fact that Junior Galette is missing time with a hamstring injury, after missing the last two seasons with Achilles injuries, and Washington has depth issues at outside linebacker.
The other side - Much of the focus has been on the offense needing to perform, particularly the run game. Keep in mind, however, the Redskins defense performed well in Baltimore. Greg Manusky's unit will look to keep the strong work going, especially from the first team. One change on the Redskins defense: free agent addition Zach Brown will move into the starting lineup and play alongside Mason Foster as the two interior linebackers. That means 2016 defensive captain Will Compton starts the game on the bench.
S Deshazor Everett—Judging from Jay Gruden’s comments earlier this week, it appears that Everett does not yet have the total confidence of the coaches as he fills in with the starters at strong safety with Su’a Cravens out. A good performance will keep him in there until Cravens is ready. If he slips up, however, veteran Will Blackmon could get the assignment.