ASHBURN, Va. — For a second straight day, Jay Gruden made it clear that he sees improvement and that his team is going in the right direction after Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. Gruden knows that his team hurt themselves again with 11 penalties for 88 yards, the punt return for a touchdown, missed opportunities on third down, and dropped interceptions.
“Nobody’s happy when you lose a football game,” Gruden said. “I’m not going to stand up here and say ‘Rah-rah we competed.’ That’s not the goal here. I do have optimism for where we’re going as a football team. I want to build on the positive. We will coach the negative, but I want to build on the positive and I think we have a lot of things to look forward to this season based on our performance Week 1.”
Gruden said he thought Kirk Cousins played well in his first game after being named the starter for the 2015 season.
“I think he was decisive with the ball. Overall, I think he managed the game, moved our team when we need to. We just didn’t make enough plays for him and it’s unfortunate. I think everyone can play better and we can coach ‘em up a lot better also, but I feel good about Kirk’s first game and where he’s going as a pro.”
– The Redskins released kicker Kai Forbath. He missed a 46-yard field goal on Sunday and his kickoffs have been consistently short over his three years with the Redskins. Forbath’s career numbers aren’t bad at all on field goals. He’s 60-69, good for an 87 percent success rate. His kickoffs have been the issue, though, as has his success rate in attempts over 40 yards, where he’s 25-31 (81 percent). The leg strength is not really there.
“Kai’s a good kicker for us for a few years now, very accurate inside of 40,” Gruden said. “But moving forward, you look at a total package of what a kicker needs to bring to your football team and we’re looking for a stronger leg especially on kickoffs, that’s the bottom line. We just think for the long haul we’d like to get some better kickoffs. If (the new kicker) can be close to (Forbath) on accuracy on field goals, I think the kickoffs will put him over the edge as far as being a little bit better.”
How about the notion the Redskins are making Kai a scapegoat for their Week 1 loss?
“That’s funny,” said Gruden. “We’re not making Kai a scapegoat. That’s insane.”
The team has signed kicker Dustin Hopkins in Forbath’s place. Hopkins lost a training camp battle to Zach Hocker. You might remember that name as the kicker the Redskins drafted last year and who was beat out by Forbath in training camp. Gruden said Hopkins had a great workout at Redskins Park on Monday.
– Cornerback Chris Culliver has been suspended for one game for violating the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. He will be eligible to return against the Giants in Week 3. With Bashaud Breeland coming back from suspension this week, the team now doesn’t need to make a roster move to make room for him.
– Defensive end Frank Kearse has been re-signed and linebacker Houston Bates has been released. Kearse was released last Saturday to make room for Bates, but with Jackson Jeffcoat set to return this week from injury, Bates isn’t needed on the 53. He should be re-signed to the practice squad once he clears waivers.
So, if you are keeping track at home (and I know you are) that’s two new signings today, two releases and a suspension.
– Wide receiver DeSean Jackson will miss three to four weeks with the hamstring injury. This means that we will get a chance to see Rashad Ross active the next few weeks. Ross was the star of the preseason, as he led the league with four touchdowns. Gruden said that Ross will get a chance to return kicks along with Chris Thompson.
Gruden knows it’s tough losing Jackson, a guy that can stretch the field on offense.
“You know he’s one of our stars and you hate to lose a star, especially with his speed,” Gruden said. “We feel good about the receivers that take his place, but nobody can substitute him for that burning speed that gets down field that scares safeties and corners to death. It’s a big loss for us. He’s great player, no question about it.”
– Safety Duke Ihenacho will have surgery on his wrist and could be a candidate for Injured Reserve. Gruden said the team will make that decision in the next day or so. Ihenacho could also be placed on Injured Reserve with a chance to return when he has healed, so the injury doesn’t necessarily have to be season ending.