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The 53: Loading up on linebackers?

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The 53: Loading up on linebackers?

The Redskins will report to training camp on July 25. Over the next five weeks they will undergo the process of cutting their 90-man roster down to 53. Which players will get those coveted spots and which will join the ranks of the unemployed? Over the next couple of weeks well go through position by position and try to predict what decisions Mike Shanahan and company will make.So far weve covered the offense and the defensive line. Today well look at the linebackers.There are 14 linebackers on the roster, the Redskins will keep 10.In: Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Markus White, Chris Wilson, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff
Out: Donnell Holt, Bryan Kehl, Brian McNally, Monte LewisChanges from 2011: Rocky McIntosh signed with the Rams as a free agent and Keyaron Fox was not resigned; Redskins drafted Robinson (4th round), signed Goff and Kehl as free agents.BreakdownThis unit is one of the strengths of the team. It would not be surprising if any of the four startersOrakpo and Kerrigan on the outside, Fletcher and Riley on the insidemade the Pro Bowl.The starters are every down players. That was literally the case with Kerrigan, who played every one of the 1,056 defensive snaps last year. Fletcher didnt rest much as he played 1,033 snaps. Orakpo was injured in the last game of the season and took an occasional rest so he played only 956 plays. McIntosh started the first eight games of the season and Riley the last eight and they combined to play just over 1,000 snaps.It is a plus to have such a versatile group that the coaches can trust in virtually any down and distance situation. The issue is that it gives the reserves very few reps to develop and get ready they are needed. Jackson played 113 snaps last year and the departed Fox played just 51. Riley came in as the starter having played just one defensive snap in the first eight games of the season and just eight as a rookie in 2010. White was active for just two games and did not play a defensive snap while Lorenzo Alexander played just 11 snaps.Alexander is of value to the team even if he doesnt play at all on defense as he is the special teams captain. Wilson, who lined up on defense only occasionally when he was with the Redskins from 2007-2010, also would be a special teams specialist for the most part.Jackson and White will be the top reserves at outside linebacker while Goff will be the backup on the inside. Robinson has a chance to be Fletchers eventual successor and his 2012 will probably be like Rileys 2010, playing special teams when hes active and learning mostly by watching and getting a few practice reps.While there is a role for each of the 10 players, there may not be room for all of them. If they decide to trim one linebacker to create a spot elsewhere, Wilson and White likely would be the players on the bubble competing for the one last linebacker job.Kehl could sneak up a grab a spot if Wilson and White falter. The best that Holt, McNally, and Lewis can hope for is a spot on the practice squad.Defensive lineIn: Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Chris Neild
Out: Darrion Scott, Kentwan Balmer, Doug Worthington, Chris Baker, Delvin JohnsonRunning backsIn (4): Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young
Out: Tristan Davis, Alfred Morris, Antwon Bailey, Lennon CreerTight endsIn (3): Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Chris Cooley
Out: Logan Paulsen, Richard Quinn, Beau RelifordWide receiversIn (6): Anthony Armstrong, Pierre Garon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson
Out: Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Darius Hanks, Brian Hernandez, Lance Lewis, Samuel KirklandQuarterbacksIn (3): Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
Out: Jonathan CromptonOffensive lineIn (9): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Willie Smith, Tyler Polumbus, Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton
Out: Erik Cook, Grant Garner, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt, Nevin McCaskill, James Lee, Nick MartinezRich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email here and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.

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Redskins vs Giants Preview: 5 things you need to know as 'Skins get desperate

Redskins vs Giants Preview: 5 things you need to know as 'Skins get desperate

The Redskins travel to take on the Giants, and despite recent history holding them down in New York, at 0-2 Washington is desperate for a win. Not only are the Redskins winless and the Giants undefeated at 2-0, New York already has a NFC East division win, pushing Jay Gruden's bunch further down the standings. Here are five things to know for Sunday's action, which kicks off at 1 p.m. from The Meadowlands. Weather looks good for the game, and all the coverage starts at noon on CSN.

  1. No more talky talky - All week, it seemed New York players were taking shots at the Redskins. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins had choice words for DeSean Jackson, and former Washington linebacker Keenand Robinson sounded off about the 'Skins a few different times. That doesn't even bring into account the mountain of trash talk exchanged between Odell Beckham and Josh Norman since last year's heated matchup between the two. Finally, on Sunday, the talk will end and the gmae will start. 
  2. Got to get over the hump - The Redskins struggles this season can be attributed to multiple factors, but a big one is the offense's inability to score touchdowns. Kirk Cousins has passed for nearly 700 yards in just two games, the Washington offense has moved the ball well until they get in the Red Zone. "We’ve got to be ready to execute," offensive coordinator Sean McVay said of scoring TDs. "We did put a little extra emphasis specifically on some of those things."
  3. Giving up ground - Look at the box scores from Week 1 and 2 and it's clear the Redskins do not run the ball enough. Matt Jones has 20 carries in two games; ideally a running back would get close to 20 carries per game. Repeatedly Gruden and McVay have said they strive for a run/pass balance, but don't expect that to come this week. "We want to run the ball, we want to be balanced there’s no question about that, I think every team does. But, really at the end of the day, the best way we think to attack will be shown on Sunday," Gruden said. The Giants are giving up about 70 yards per game on the ground, and while the 'Skins absolutely need to commit to the run, this might not be the week it starts.
  4.  Man on Manning - For the second time in three weeks, the Redskins face a potential Hall of Fame quarterback in Eli Manning. Manning has had an impressive start to the season, completing nearly 74 percent of his passes with 3 TDs and just one interception. If Manning has a weakness, like any quarterback, it's when he gets rushed and hit consitently, and the Giants offensive line is not a strength. The Redskins pass rush has not been particulary effective yet this season, but team sources suggested some changes could be coming, particularly on third downs. Trent Murphy showed good burst last week against Dallas, and if he can maintain that pace and Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith play at their top level, the pressure could mount on Manning. 
  5. Playing slots - With Beckham, Cruz and Shepard, wide receiver is obviously a strength for the Giants. That said, cornerback should be a strength for the Redskins as well. Much has been made of the potential Norman-Beckham matchup, but look for the Redskins to show new looks in nickel coverage, perhaps even bringing Bashaud Breeland into the slot to combat Cruz and/or Shepard. 

Numbers & Notes:

  • The Redskins have not won in New York since 2011.
  • If Kirk Cousins throws one TD pass he will tie Gus Frerotte (48) for eighth-most career touchdown passes in Redskins history.
  • Pierre Garçon is nine catches away from 500 career receptions.
  • Ryan Kerrigan is one sack away from 50 career sacks.

Want more - listen to #RedskinsTalk Podcast below for Giants preview with Ralph Vacchiano.

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Redskins Gruden on rookie Kendall Fuller: He's just the odd man out, for now

Redskins Gruden on rookie Kendall Fuller: He's just the odd man out, for now

When the Redskins drafted Kendall Fuller out of Virginia Tech, many considered it a steal. Widely considered one of the top corners in the country going into the 2015 college football season, Fuller's draft stock fell after a knee injury, allowing the Redskins to poach the Hokie in the third round. 

The good news for Fuller and Washington is that his knee has not been an issue. Fuller played throughout training camp and the preseason, showing the rookie learning curve at times while making plays and strong tackles in other spots. Through two games, however, Fuller has not made the 'Skins active roster.

"Right now he’s just the odd man out, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be forever," coach Jay Gruden said of Fuller. 

In losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas, the Redskins pass defense has struggled in spots. Josh Norman has been stout, but the rest of the defense has looked confused in assignments and missed some coverages at times. A rookie like Fuller is unlikely to be the solution, but it is possible he could help, especially facing a Giants offense with Eli Manning throwing to Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard.

Gruden did not rule out Fuller playing this week, but it didn't sound like a ringing endorsement either.

"It could be just for this week, might be next week," Gruden said, "he’ll be up and ready to roll."

The coach explained that Fuller is getting good work on the scout team and working on his readiness.

"He’s mentally getting himself there. Physically, I think he’s starting to feel really, really good. I think it’s just a matter of time before he gets up.”

On game days, the 'Skins have dressed Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Dashaun Phillips, Quinton Dunbar, and Greg Toler at corner and then DeAngelo Hall, David Bruton, Deshazor Everett and Will Blackmon at safety. Duke Ihenacho dressed for the second game but was inactive Week 1. What hurts Fuller is that some of the safeties can also play corner as needed, certainly Hall and Blackmon, and Everett is a special teams star while Blackmon works as kick returner.

Versatility is a key that for now is slowing down Fuller's progress. Coming off a knee injury, and with potential of being a top-tier corner, the Redskins are unlikely to ask much of Fuller on specials. 

Whether Fuller plays Week 3 in New York, or doesn't make the active roster until later in the season, the Redskins brass still views their rookie as a long-term asset. Impatient fans tired of watching the Washington defense give up pass completions may want to see Fuller sooner.