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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Outside linebacker

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Outside linebacker

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

We started with the defensive line and then looked at the inside linebackers.  Today the focus turns to the outside linebackers.

2016 final game starters: Preston Smith, Ryan Kerrigan

Smith and Kerrigan both started all 16 games. Kerrigan has now started all 96 games since he was drafted in 2011.   

Departures: None

Projected 2017 starters: Smith, Kerrigan

Kerrigan’s presence is a given. He has four years left on the five-years extension he signed in 2015. Kerrigan made his second Pro Bowl last year with 11 sacks, the second-best total of his career.   

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 7.0

Smith was a model of inconsistency. He was dominant against the Vikings, recording two sacks and getting his first career interception to stop a key Minnesota drive, and against the Bears he blocked a field goal attempt and got a sack. During other games, you rarely heard his name called. He had zero or one tackles in nine games.

2017 reserves: Trent Murphy, Junior Galette, Houston Bates, Lynden Trail

Murphy played about 100 fewer snaps than Smith last year but he had more sacks, QB hits, and hurries. He is likely to miss the first four games of the season due to a PED suspension but an appeal is still pending.

Galette is the wild card in the bunch. He could get double-digit sacks, like he did with the Saints in 2013 and 2014, or he could miss the whole season, like he did the last two years.

MORE REDSKINS: The best picks at No. 17

Trail is huge, 6-7, 270, but still very green. He could benefit from another season on the practice squad although another team could be tempted to sign him away. Bates played just 24 snaps on defense but he was valuable on special teams and he lined up at fullback on occasion as well.

Where can the outside LB’s find improvement?

The Redskins have five picks in the first four rounds and there is a good chance they go with an edge player with one of those picks. The draft has some depth at the position and they could get some immediate production out of someone taken in the third or fourth rounds.

Smith has the highest potential for improvement from within. Even though Greg Manusky have moved up from outside linebackers coach to defensive coordinator he certainly will continue to push Smith as he enters his important third season. And he will no doubt get some tips from respected defensive line coach Jim Tomsula as Smith often will line up in a four-point stance.

As noted, Galette could be a Pro Bowl candidate or he could be totally unproductive. The Redskins probably would be happy with something in between, a half dozen sacks or so.

Locks and bubble players

Kerrigan, Smith, and Galette are locks for the initial 53-man roster. Assuming Murphy’s suspension appeal fails he won’t be on the roster until Week 5.

That would give Trail, Bates, and possibly a draft pick an opening. The Redskins usually keep four but they could go with five if they get someone in the draft. 

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

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The due date of Kirk Cousins' baby is getting closer to a critical part of the NFL schedule

The due date of Kirk Cousins' baby is getting closer to a critical part of the NFL schedule

Once upon a time, one Redskins quarterback infamously announced that he was all in for Week 1. The Redskins' current QB, however, is most certainly not.

While talking to the media on Wednesday at his team's OTAs, Kirk Cousins said that the baby he and his wife, Julie, are expecting is projected to come earlier than the couple originally thought. That's, of course, tremendous news for the two, but it could also present a large issue due to what Cousins does for a living.

"Yeah, the baby's due in mid-September," he said. "Was supposed to be Week 2, but we got the 20-week ultrasound and they moved it up a week. So, we're looking for around Week 1, between Week 1 and Week 2. We're praying that it'll come on a day where it doesn't conflict with any important football matters."

MORE REDSKINS: A FULL SCOUTING REPORT ON EACH OF WASHINGTON'S OPPONENTS

Again — congratulations to Kirk and Julie. Babies are fun and cute and they're worth a ton of Instagram likes and, overall, they're something worth celebrating. But when Cousins says he's hoping that the baby arrives on a non-gameday, he's not alone; the Redskins will have a much better shot of beating the Eagles on September 10 if he's under center and not Colt McCoy, after all.

Fortunately, any day that isn't a Sunday during that month should mean that the 28-year-old can enjoy the birth of his first child and Washington can enjoy having their franchise passer take the field in crucial early matchups. And whenever the next member of the Cousins clan finally does show up, Julie is prepared to run the show so her husband can run the offense.

"We're excited, and Julie's been great," Kirk said. "She's just been outstanding the whole time and she's already told me that she's going to carry the weight the first few months so I can focus on football, and she's gonna be a big help. We're looking forward to that. Lots to look forward to right now, I'm in a good place."

RELATED: JAY GRUDEN ON MATT JONES' ABSENCE 

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The biggest addition, strength and question for each Redskins' 2017 opponent

The biggest addition, strength and question for each Redskins' 2017 opponent

You already know the Redskins' 2017 schedule. But do you know what makes each opponent on that schedule a threat, or what pressing question each of those teams needs to answer?

With free agency and the draft in the past, and OTAs now picking up, it's finally time to really start previewing the upcoming NFL season. With that in mind, CSNmidatlantic.com has created a gallery that does just that. 

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S SCOUTING REPORT ON EACH OF THE REDSKINS' 2017 OPPONENTS

Look no further than the link above or below to find out the new faces the Redskins will be dealing with starting this fall, as well as where their foes are strongest. Plus, you'll get a look at a to-do item the 13 franchises that Washington's slated to play must address out in order for their own campaigns to be successful. 

As a Redskins fan, you're familiar with all things Burgundy and Gold. Allow this gallery to update you on everyone else.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S SCOUTING REPORT ON EACH OF THE REDSKINS' 2017 OPPONENTS