Redskins enter camp with clear QB picture, high expectations
FILE - In this June 1, 2016 file photo, Washington Redskins head football coach Jay Gruden listens to a question during a media availability at the team's NFL football training facility at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va. Theres no quarterback controversy at Washington Redskins training camp and instead plenty of optimism coming off a division title. Kirk Cousins is the unquestioned starting quarterback, even if he doesnt have the long-term contract and will be playing on the franchise tag. Coach Jay Gruden doesnt expect Cousins contract status to be a distraction at what is mostly a distraction-free camp. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) There's no quarterback controversy at Washington Redskins training camp. Instead, there's plenty of optimism coming off a division title.
Kirk Cousins is the unquestioned starting quarterback, even if he doesn't have a long-term contract and will be playing on the franchise tag. Coach Jay Gruden doesn't expect Cousins' contract status to be a distraction at what is mostly a distraction-free camp.
''The contract will take care of itself,'' Gruden said Wednesday on the eve of the team's first workout. ''We won't have any conversations about the contract, about his future contracts, any of that stuff. All we're going to focus on is this year and him getting better and being the best quarterback he can possibly be.''
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Cousins' maturation as a quarterback is the biggest reason for positivity after the Redskins surprisingly won the NFC East before losing at home to the Packers in the wild-card round. The Redskins cut Robert Griffin III as expected, and the 2012 No. 2 pick is trying to rejuvenate his career in Cleveland.
Meanwhile, Cousins will make $19.95 million on the franchise tag, and the expectations are high for him after throwing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns.
''He's got a year out of film, people are going to study on him and he's going to have to study other people and prepare himself no differently, and we're going to coach him no differently,'' Gruden said. ''He's a great football player, made great strides last year. We're all excited about it. But he's got to continue that progress.''
Gruden wants his entire team to continue making progress and has already seen a noticeable improvement in the quality and quantity of in-house talent from when he arrived. And homegrown players will be counted on more than Washington first thought because of injuries.
The Redskins won't have Junior Galette after the outside linebacker tore his right Achilles tendon, a rough development after he missed last season with a torn left Achilles tendon. Gruden said Galette was devastated but that the team will adjust, perhaps giving more responsibilities to young players such as Preston Smith, Houston Bates and Lynden Trail.
''For this football team, injuries are part of the game,'' Gruden said. ''We have to rebound. … We still have some good pass rushers in here, and they're going to have to produce.''
The Redskins could shift converted defensive lineman Trent Murphy back to outside linebacker, Gruden said, but that's not the plan for now.
It's also not the plan to find outside help at running back behind Matt Jones, where Washington lacks any significant NFL experience. With Alfred Morris gone, Jones will shoulder the load, and the Redskins hope to get what they need from Chris Thompson, Mack Brown and seventh-round pick Keith Marshall.
''We have some guys in the building we're going to look at,'' Gruden said. ''And if it doesn't work out, we're always looking – every position. The scouting staff have their eyeballs across the league and who's available. But hopefully we don't need to go that route, but if we do, there are going to be good players we can talk about.''
During his camp-opening news conference, Gruden praised the good players the organization is in the process of developing. One of those was safety Kyshoen Jarrett, but a shoulder injury and nerve damage from the season finale in Dallas led to his release on Monday.
Gruden said ''the news never came out to be good enough'' on Jarrett and hopes he can function in normal life outside football.
NOTES: Gruden said guard Shawn Lauvao (torn ligaments in left ankle) is feeling well and hopes he'll be able to practice at some point during training camp. … The Redskins signed receivers Kendal Thompson and T.J. Thorpe to fill out their 90-man roster.
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