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Camp preview: A big bubble on the O-line

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Camp preview: A big bubble on the O-line

By Rich Tandler
CSNwashington.comThe Redskins start training camp on Thursday. Were going around the team to let you know what were looking for when practice gets underway. First up is the offensive line.Anticipated starters:LT Trent Williams
LG Kory Lichtensteiger
C Will Montgomery
RG Chris Chester
RT Jammal BrownThere dont appear to be any challenges to the starters in the offing, although Mike Shanahan has been known to bring in competition at a position where nobody really expects one. This will be the same starting five that was in last year when the team averaged 21 points per game and was rolling with a 3-1 record. Although with the exception of Williams none of them is a threat to make the Pro Bowl, the Redskins zone blocking scheme is more about technique and cohesion as a unity than it is about maulers who can win one on one matchups.Key reserves:T Willie SmithSmith did a decent job of filling in at left tackle during Williams suspension. He is the one sure keeper among the reserves and it would not be surprising to see him challenge Brown for the right tackle job at some point, maybe sooner rather than later.On the bubble:T Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton, James Lee
GC Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Erik Cook
GT Maurice HurtIt is entirely possible that at least one of three players who started multiple games last year, Cook, Hurt, and Polumbus, will not be around in 2012. In fact, it would not be shocking if all three of them were gone. It looks like seven players battling for the last three or four spots.Three things to watch:Whos coming in second? As noted, the starters are set but all four or five reserve positions are very much up for grabs. It will be important to watch who comes in when any of the starting five needs a rest. Who comes off the bench when RG3 is in at quarterback will be especially noteworthy as the coaching staff will want him practicing with the best players available.Hows Steiger doing? He may not be the teams best offensive lineman but things sure did seem to unravel when he went out of the lineup in Week 6. Although we have been assured that he will be ready to go for the start of camp that doesnt necessarily mean that he will be at 100 percent. We will keep an eye on how well he moves in pass protection and if he can get to the second level in run blocking.Is Trents head in the game? Williams athletic ability keeps him from making very many physical mistakes. His challenge is staying sharp and focused mentally. If he looks focused on the field, its good news for the Redskins and bad news for any opposing pass rusher who plans on trying to chase down RG3.What do you want us to watch? Who do you think is on the bubble? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag RedskinsTalk.

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Need to Know: Redskins stay in house for both coordinator jobs

Need to Know: Redskins stay in house for both coordinator jobs

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 23, 37 days before the NFL franchise tag deadline.

Timeline

Days until:

NFL free agency starts 45
—NFL Draft 94
First Sunday of 2017 season 230

Staying in house

­There are reasons to dislike the hire of Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator but the notion that he got the job because he is buddies with Jay Gruden really doesn’t hold water. They had no connection prior to last year and with them working on opposite sides of the ball they didn’t work side by side. I’ve heard the two have a friendly relationship but it’s not like he’s out of the Tampa Bay Yacht Club or anything.

I know that everyone is obsessed with yardage rankings, which is a pretty weak indicator of the quality of a defense. Since you want to know, in Manusky’s nine seasons as a defensive coordinator his defenses have finished ranked 18th in yards allowed on average. In reality, Football Outsiders’  DVOA is a more accurate measure of the effectiveness of a defense since it takes the strength of the opponents into account. There isn’t much difference there, Manusky’s average DVOA ranking was about 17. In other words, he’s run middle of the pack defenses. Sure, you'd like them to do better but having a defense that's around average would represent an improvement over most of the last seven seasons.

How has his talent been? Three different players have been first-team All-Pro selections. LB Patrick Willis made it three times, S Eric Weddle and DE Robert Mathis once each. Players under him made the Pro Bowl 13 times with Willis (3), Mathis (2), and DE Justin Smith (2) making it more than once. His defenses had three Pro Bowlers on one occasion when LB D’Qwell Jackson, CB Vonta Davis, and S Mike Adams all made it. That year the Colts defense was ranked 11th in yards and 13th in DVOA.

It remains to be seen how much the Redskins will change schematically. Manusky has run both 4-3 fronts and 3-4’s so the Redskins could make a switch. Even if they go with a 3-4 base the unit is likely to be more aggressive than it was under Joe Barry. Some fans seem to be worried that promoting an assistant coach means that things will be done the same. Let me ask you this: If your boss was fired for not getting the job done and you were promoted into his position, would you do things the same way he did? I didn’t think so.

­There will be continuity on the offensive side of the ball as Matt Cavanaugh is going to get moved into the offensive coordinator job. It’s Gruden’s offense anyway so there would not have been much change even if they had brought someone in from the outside. It seems likely that Gruden will call the plays, although we won’t know for sure for a while. The only immediate question on that side of the ball is if Wes Phillips will stay on as the tight ends coach or if he will follow Sean McVay to Los Angeles. That should be resolved over the next several days.

Tandler on Twitter

This was in response to a tweet saying that Kyle Shanahan is likely to get roster and personnel control when he becomes the head coach of the 49ers.

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Kirk Cousins had his eye on Kyle Shanahan's offense, but is there more to it?

Kirk Cousins had his eye on Kyle Shanahan's offense, but is there more to it?

Of course, Kirk Cousins is disappointed the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs, but among the various things he’s done in the offseason, one of them is a little curious.

Sunday, Cousins wasn’t just watching the Falcons dominate the Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship Game. He sent out a picture on Instagram from the stands of the Georgia Dome.

“Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!” Cousins wrote.

But — especially with rumors that Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be offered the head coaching position with the 49ers — is there more to this post than the Redskins’ quarterback simply watching the game?

Shanahan was the Redskins’ offensive coordinator from 2010-2013 and was reportedly “integral” in the team selecting Cousins in the 2012 NFL Draft.

So if Shanahan makes the move out to San Francisco and if the Redskins don’t put a franchise tag on Cousins, could the pair be reunited?

It’s possible, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, who said, “don’t be surprised if the 49ers make a run at Kirk Cousins if the Redskins do not make him their exclusive franchise player.”

There’s a lot of if’s involved for that to happen, but it’s possible. It’s also possible Cousins was just enjoying the NFC Championship Game and decided to Instagram about it. 

MORE REDSKINS: Why Matt Cavanaugh makes sense for Washington