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Rookie preview: inside linebacker D.J. Holt

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Rookie preview: inside linebacker D.J. Holt

Donnell "D. J." HoltLinebackerCalifornia6-0 34, 209The need: 37-year-old London Fletcher is as durable as they come and continues to corral anyone toting a football, but father time eventually wins all battles. The reserve options are a collection of players learning new positions, those coming off injury or special teamers who also play linebacker. The situation is hardly dire, but there is an opening for a training camp unknown to emerge, especially if the Redskins keep more than eight linebackers.The fit: An experienced and instinctive inside backer, Holt racked up 168 tackles thepast two seasons starting at Cal, 14for a loss. He also played on special teams, an area he must excel in for any shot at the opening game roster. Along with wide receiver Lance Lewis and corner Chase Minnifeld, SI.com highlighted the trio as potential undrafted free agent finds. Consistency and aggression more than skill dropped Holt in the eyes of draft evaluators. Finishing his senior season without an interception or forced fumble did not help his draft stock either.The depth chart: At one point this offseason, theslots behind starters London Fletcher and Perry Riley had a vacant sign on them. Then theRedskins shifted Lorenzo Alexander inside. Then they drafted Keenan Robinson in the fourth round. Then they signed free agents Jonathan Goff, a noted run defender who missed last season with a knee injury, and Bryan Kehl. There is a touch of uncertanty with how the reserves hierarchy shake out, but there are also enough pieces to make one think the Redskins should be passable barring the unforseen.Holt'supside: Last season the Redskins started with nine linebackers, five on the outside.If that final slot goes toone of the inside options, then Holt's chances increase. Even then,he would need to best Kehl on special teams, hopetaking more snaps in the middle than Robinson on the college level helps his causeand perhapsget lucky should theversatile Alexander get placed elsewhere on the roster. Obviously, injuries do and will crop up, so there is also that angle. Cracking the practice squad would be a good start.Pro Football Weekly on Holt: Stoutly built and thickly muscled. Secure clear-path tackler. Can drop into short zones. Football smart. Has special-teams experience. Good character...Catches too much contact and is not strong at the point of attack. Pedestrian speed and suddenness. Limited range (can be beat to the perimeter). Struggles to break down in space. Can play with more urgency. Has underachiever traits...Compact, inconsistent inside linebacker who looks the part of a thumper but does not play downhill or with a lot of strength. Intermittent violence, explosion and intensity are concerning."

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Former Redskins safety Dashon Goldson to work out with Falcons

Former Redskins safety Dashon Goldson to work out with Falcons

Still looking for a new team, former Redskin Dashon Goldson will work out with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, according to Ian Rapoport.

A knee injury to safety Keanu Neal exposed the Falcons' thin depth at the position. With Neal expected to miss three to four weeks, Atlanta has to explore other options.

Goldson, 31, became a free agent in March when he was cut by the Redskins.

A former Pro Bowler, Goldson was traded from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Redskins in April of 2015. In his lone season in Washington, Goldson started in 15 games recording 69 tackles. He also caught one interception which he returned for a touchdown.

RELATED: SOME GOOD LUCK, SOME BAD FOR COUSINS VS. BILLS

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Ryan Kerrigan's early exit vs Bills shows Redskins lack of depth at edge rusher

Ryan Kerrigan's early exit vs Bills shows Redskins lack of depth at edge rusher

Ryan Kerrigan exited Friday night's preseason game against the Bills in the first quarter with a groin injury. Word Friday night was that Kerrigan's injury was minor, though the Redskins outside linebacker is slated for an MRI exam Saturday on the groin.

https://twitter.com/bmcnally14/status/769374500081246208

Even if the MRI reveals what Redskins fans hope - little to no damage and no prospect of missed regular season action - Kerrigan's exit from the Bills game reveals just how thin Washington is at outside linebacker.

Two months ago, OLB was considered a position of strength for Scot McCloughan's team. Junior Galette's Achilles injury changed that.

MORE REDSKINS: SOME GOOD, SOME BAD FROM COUSINS VS BILLS 

Now, the Redskins have two very capable pass rushers in Kerrigan and Preston Smith. In five seasons, Kerrigan has averaged nearly 10 sacks per season, and anybody that watched Smith's rookie year and his excellent 2016 training camp and preseason must be excited about the second-year man from Mississippi State. Smith oozes the kind of All-Pro potential that scouts dream about going through the draft process.

But after those two, things change quickly.

Washington converted Trent Murphy back to OLB after an offseason experiment at defensive end. Murphy's move came following the Galette injury, and was done more for depth rather than the team expecting Murphy to suddenly become a sackmaster. But at least Murphy has experience and is capable of playing the edge in the 'Skins defense.

Behind Murphy, the Redskins can look to some combination of Houston Bates*, Willie Jefferson and Lynden Trail. Bates played some in 2015, and while a useful player on special teams, lacks the top end athleticism needed to consistenly get to opposing QBs. Jefferon (6-foot-5) and Trail (6-foot-7) possess great length and speed, but it's hard to think either could be counted on immediately for help. Jefferson experienced some success in the CFL last year, and Trail has shown flashes in Richmond, but both players are quite raw.

In addition to Trail, two more undrafted rookies have given the Redskins good snaps this preseason in Ejiro Ederaine and Mike Wakefield. That said, both Ederaine and Wakefield look like long shots to survive both round of cuts, let alone see the field this fall. 

While many fans focus on running back depth, outside linebacker remains a position that the Redskins scouting staff could be considering options outside of the organization. Should an edge rusher with talent emerge over the next two weeks as NFL rosters get trimmed, Washington will be watching. 

* Random note on Houston Bates - In the Redskins newly remodeled locker room, ping pong, foosball and shuffleboard tables have been installed. Multiple players have confirmed that Bates is the best shuffleboard player in the locker room, though plenty of guys are pushing for the title. 

 

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Redskins' Cousins both lucky and unlucky vs. Bills

Redskins' Cousins both lucky and unlucky vs. Bills

After playing just seven snaps in the Redskins’ first two preseason games, Kirk Cousins played the entire first half against the Bills and, for the most part, everything went according to plan. But he did have some good luck and he had some bad luck during the 47 snaps that he played.

Some good fortune came before the opening kickoff. The Bills decided to rest five defensive starters as well as some key reserves. Playing Buffalo without the likes of cornerback Stephon Gilmore is an easier task than playing against the Bills at full strength.

The Redskins’ first possession ended with a combination of bad luck and a bad decision by Cousins. He dropped back, looked to his left and then decided to go back to Rashad Ross on the right sideline. Cousins threw late and backup cornerback Corey White made a nice interception on his back.

“If you look at the interception, it was the product of a defensive back making a good play on a tight throw, the ball bounces up in the air and it lands where it lands,” said Cousins. “I don’t know if that’s a product of anything, other than the fact that it’s the way it happened.”

Some drops also happened and those were bad luck for Cousins. When normally sure-handed pass catchers like Jordan Reed and Pierre Garçon drop passes that would have resulted in first downs it just may not be your day.

Jay Gruden mentioned the drops during his postgame press conference. He also talked about the penalties against the Redskins (13 accepted for 104 yards) making drives more difficult. But Cousins and the offense benefitted from some yellow flags at well. Two roughing the passer penalties kept drives alive and a defensive holding call negated what would have been a second Cousins interception.

The Washington offense finally got going thanks to some sloppy tackling (and good running). With the Redskins still scoreless in the second quarter, Cousins threw short passes to DeSean Jackson and Ryan Grant. They both made tacklers miss. Jackson took a pass in the flat and dodged some tackles for 39 yards into Bills territory. Two plays later Cousins threw to Ryan Grant on the left side. The defensive back missed the tackle and Grant ran in to complete the 38-yard touchdown play. On two throws that went a total of maybe 10 yards past the line of scrimmage Cousins got credited for 77 of his 188 passing yards.

The missed tackles were a theme for both teams last night. According to Pro Football Focus the two teams combined to miss a whopping 31 tackles. There were 137 snaps in the game so nearly one play in every four had a missed tackle.