Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) lines up against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth) The Arizona Cardinals return home to for the first time since Nov. 13, but the defense will once again have their hands full as the Washington Redskins try to stay in the hotly contested NFC Wild Card race.At 6-4-1, the Redskins are barely holding on to the six-seed in the NFC, and are two games ahead of the Cards with just five games left.Last time out for the Redskins, they traveled to Arlington to play the NFC-leading Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Despite Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins collecting the third 400-yard passing game of his career — delivering 449 yards, three touchdowns and no picks — his performance was not enough in a 31-26 loss. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact • Washington Redskins TE Vernon Davis never had a doubt (The Sports Xchange)The San Francisco 49ers might have traded him. Payton Manning and the Denver Broncos might not have trusted him. But Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan believed tight end Vernon Davis could still contribute despite declining numbers and signed him to a one-year contract this offseason.• Several Washington Redskins players will wear custom cleats on Sunday (Richmond.com)Several Washington Redskins players will be participating, and many were wearing their custom cleats on Wednesday during practice, or have posted photos of them to social media.• Jay Gruden believes in Kendall Fuller: He’s not going to be perfect (CSN Mid-Atlantic)Rookie cornerback Kendall Fuller hit the ground running for the Redskins once he finally made the active roster in Week 4. In his first NFL game, Fuller played more than 60 percent of the defensive snaps, and in eight games with Washington, Fuller has been on the field more than 70 percent of all defensive snaps.• Need to know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. Cardinals (CSN Mid-Atlantic)Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 1, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals. The Redskins boast the second-best offense in terms of yardage per game, as they rack up an average of 426.4 every week. Cousins is having a solid contract year, as he is behind only Drew Brees in passing yards this season with 3,540 and has 20 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions. The Michigan State product puts a lot of pressure on defenses by spreading the ball around to many different targets, as the Redskins have six receivers with at least 31 receptions (Cards have three) and have four players with at least 450 yards (Cards have two).All throughout the week, we will prep you on the Redskins as they prepare for their bout with the Cardinals.It’s Behind Enemy Lines…Saturday, December 3• Josh Norman, Kirk Cousins among Redskins embracing ‘My Cause My Cleats’ campaign (ESPN)Several Arizona Cardinals have taken part in the initiative and their opponents will be wearing special cleats as well. Among them are cornerback Josh Norman and quarterback Kirk Cousins.• Coaches have factored into Kirk Cousins’ growth as Redskins starter (ESPN)An argument is made for whether up and coming Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins’ improvement is all credit to quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh or head coach Jay Gruden. Cavanaugh has been spoken of by Cousins as having a substantial impact on his growth this season. • Kendall Fuller is struggling, but Redskins feel the rookie is where he belongs (Washington Post)Kendall Fuller’s rookie season has been a baptism by fire.Some young players gradually work their way into prominent roles. Others get thrown to the wolves. Redskins coaches planned on the former for their third-round draft pick, a cornerback, but scrapped it for the latter.• Jay Gruden says to ignore the Cardinals’ record (Washington Times)“This is a good football team that we’re playing, I don’t care what their record is, they are a very good football team,” Gruden said. “If you go 13-3 not too long ago, you have good players — Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, [David] Johnson — I mean it goes on-and-on the list of players that they have offensively and defensively. We have to get geared up. It’s at their place. It has always been a tough place to play. If we don’t get geared up, it’ll be a long day.”• Redskins’ offensive line has gone from question to strength (Washington Times)Coming into the season, the Washington Redskins’ offensive line ranked 12th on Pro Football Focus’ preseason list of offensive lines. Respectable within the ranks, but not necessarily dominant. • As DeSean Jackson turns 30, his game hasn’t slowed down (ESPN.com)Jackson is convinced his game isn’t slowing down and that he can play well into his 30s.“I’m glad I kept it alive this long,” Jackson said. “Hopefully I can keep it alive another five or 10 years.”• Redskins rookie Josh Doctson still not running as he recovers from Achilles issue (ESPN.com)Washington Redskins rookie receiver Josh Doctson could return for the last two games of the regular season — but to do so he’ll have to soon start doing something he hasn’t in a while: run.• Need to know: Pass defense key for Redskins vs. Cardinals (CSN Mid-Atlantic)Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 2, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.Thursday, December 1• ‘A dork with swag’: Redskins rally around their corny quarterback (Washington Post)“Very goofy, and very corny,” running back Chris Thompson said.“Oh, it’s super corny,” agreed long snapper Nick Sundberg. “He’s a square.”“It’s kind of dorkish a little bit, but cool at the same time,” offered wide receiver Jamison Crowder.• Redskins reiterate their trust in Dustin Hopkins, even after rough days kicking (Washington Post) Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires 0 Comments Share But Cousins on Sunday faces his stiffest test yet in the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals allow just 195 passing yards per game, second-best in the NFL, thanks to a secondary loaded with playmakers, including cornerback Marcus Cooper, safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Patrick Peterson, who may have an argument with the Redskins’ Josh Norman over who is the league’s top cover guy.• Kirk Cousins learned tough lessons in Redskins last trip to Arizona (ESPN.com)“That’ll be a game I’ll always remember as one that didn’t go our way, didn’t go my way,” Cousins said. “And one of those games where you learn from it and you say, ‘Tough times don’t last, tough people do. To be able to come back from this, I’ve got to choose to be mentally and physically tough.’ I’m just glad that here we are with another opportunity to go back there a couple seasons later.”• Broadway Kirk Cousins: Redskins QB says he’s a musical theater guy (ESPN.com)Cousins hasn’t yet seen the Broadway show on the life of Alexander Hamilton, but it’s on his list of things to do. And it hasn’t stopped Cousins from singing some of the tunes from the show. “I’m not going to waver on my level of confidence,” Gruden said, reaffirming his faith in Hopkins’s leg and his own commitment to taking calculated risks in crucial situations. “I’m not going to say I’m not going to kick a field goal, because I’m afraid he’s going to miss it. If we need the points, we’re going to kick it.”• Jordan Reed making progress, but ‘slowly,’ as Redskins remain in wait-and-see mode (Washington Post)Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that although tight end Jordan Reed missed a second straight practice because of his separated shoulder, Reed is progressing “slowly” and remains “in a lot of pain.”• Loss in Arizona would drop playoff odds dramatically (Washington Times)Sunday will have a huge impact on Washington’s odds of reaching the playoffs. The Upshot’s simulator gives the Redskins a 72-percent chance to make the playoffs if they beat the Arizona Cardinals in Arizona this weekend. If they lose? Trouble. The odds fall to 38 percent. Entering the game, Washington has essentially a 50-50 shot to get in, according to the web site’s calculations.• Strength vs. strength: Cousins against Cardinals secondary (Washington Times) • Redskins sign defensive lineman A.J. Francis to active roster (Redskins.com)The Washington Redskins have added Washington, D.C., native A.J. Francis to the active roster from the practice squad, the team announced on Tuesday.In a corresponding move, long snapper Rick Lovato has been waived.• Report: Redskins facing coaching staff shake-up (Was.247sports.com)According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay has emerged as a hot name in head coaching search circles when the NFL coaching carousel spins up again.• Redskins hit the road to face Cardinals as 2.5-point underdogs (Redskinswire.com)Even though the Washington Redskins held steadfast in the latest USA TODAY NFL week 13 power rankings and other NFL rankings, they are viewed as a 2.5-point underdog against the 4-6-1 Arizona Cardinals.• Redskins prepare for must-win games starting with Cardinals (Redskinswire.com)Both teams are in must-win scenarios and this weekend’s outcome could determine which team will move forward with another week to play for a playoff spot.• Chris Cooley wonders if Ryan Kerrigan is playing hurt (The Washington Post)Kerrigan did record a sack against the Cowboys, but Cooley said it was on a play when he was “basically turned free” by the Dallas protection. Cooley said Kerrigan fared well on the backside of some Dallas running plays, forced a Dak Prescott throw, and had a few other effective moments. Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling • If Jordan Reed forced to miss time, Vernon Davis very capable to step in (CSN Mid-Atlantic)With the status of Jordan Reed’s injured shoulder unknown, the Redskins face a dilemma. Their star tight end brings so much to the offense, so the team wants him available as quickly as possible, but also wants to be sure Reed can play the rest of the season, not just focus on one game.Washington has an advantage in waiting for Reed, and that’s backup tight end Vernon Davis.• Glare from the sun in Dallas was worse than Kirk Cousins anticipated (The Washington Post)“It was just unfortunate, because we got across midfield, we were rolling, and sure enough, I looked and I could just tell right away before we even had huddled for that play that this is gonna be a problem,” Cousins told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “And I looked at the ref and I said, ‘I can’t see down the field.’ And he said back to me, ‘I can’t either. I mean, I don’t know how you’re doing it.’ ”• Redskins receive yet another injury scare (Was.247sports.com)On Monday, the Redskins received another scare. This time from wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who went down awkwardly in Monday’s practice. • Back home in Washington, Vernon Davis is now the man he wanted to be (Washington Post)Redskins tight end Vernon Davis has made two Pro Bowl appearances and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2009. After catching two touchdowns in his last two seasons, Davis’ return to his hometown team has revitalized the veteran’s career. Friday, December 2• Jordan Reed ruled out of Cardinals game, eyes Week 14 return (ESPN)The star tight end for the Redskins was not expected to play in Sunday’s clash with Arizona, but Reed not playing is now officially a reality.Known for injury issues in the past, the 26-year-old Reed will miss his third game of the season. He has 59 receptions for 630 yards and five touchdowns this season.• Jordan Reed is unlikely to play Sunday, but Jay Gruden is staying mum (Washington Post)“I’m not expecting him to play or not to play,” Gruden told reporters after Thursday’s practice, at which Reed was an observer for a second consecutive day. “Just got to wait and see tomorrow how he looks and go from there.”• Josh Norman may track Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald in the slot, Jay Gruden says (Washington Post)Asked if Norman could step into a slot cornerback role Sunday, when the 6-4-1 Redskins travel to Arizona (4-6-1), Gruden said: “He could in certain situations, there’s no doubt about it.” The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo • Cousins will be 1 of 5 highest-paid players (CBS DC)It’s becoming more and more likely that Washington will either place the franchise tag on Cousins for a second time in as many seasons or offer him a massive contract that pays him more than $20 million annually.Wednesday, November 30• The only question left for Kirk Cousins: ‘How much?’ (The Washington Post)How close is the franchise to a resolution? Despite national media reports suggesting that Washington has finalized its plan, the team is still in evaluation mode. Like any good evaluator would take note of, Cousins’s play lately has been persuasive. But the decision-makers wanted another season to look at the complete picture — all 32 regular season games of the Cousins/Gruden offense, plus perhaps another playoff appearance — and they’ll collect every bit of information available.• Redskins Jay Gruden weighs aggressiveness versus moderation (Redskinswire.com)In a high-profile market like Washington, where everything regarding the Redskins is viewed under a microscope, aggressive play-calling that works is labeled genius. Aggressive play-calling that fails is called stupidity.In the team’s recent 31-26 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Gruden took some chances that did not work and he is taking some heat for it. Tuesday, November 29• Playing behind the Redskins’ offensive line is no longer a dangerous occupation (The Washington Post)Not getting sacked is partly a skill — and one that’s not easily taught, as previous Washington quarterbacks have demonstrated. This offense demands instantaneous reads and quick-twitch decisions. Cousins has complied, and the sacks have disappeared.• Kirk Cousins’ growth one reason Redskins’ offense flourishes minus key starters (ESPN)The Redskins are in their third season of Gruden’s offense. Of their 11 full-time starters — when everyone is healthy or not suspended — eight also are in their third season. Of their key offensive players, only two are newcomers: Davis and Kelley.That experience especially pays off at quarterback with Kirk Cousins. His knowledge of the offense enables him to go through progressions quicker, avoiding negative situations. It helps with protections and audibles, allowing him to check out of plays he knows are bad.• Jordan Reed’s status uncertain this week with AC joint separation (Redskins.com)Reed, the team’s leading receiver, suffered the injury at the beginning of the second quarter when he was pushed to the ground by a Cowboys defender after jumping for a pass thrown out of the back of the end zone. He was in pain as he changed into his clothes after the game and left the locker room with a sling on his left arm.
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