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The 53: Extreme makeover at defensive back

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The 53: Extreme makeover at defensive back

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, the linebackers, and the defensive line. Today well look at the defensive backs.There are 15 defensive backs on the roster, the Redskins will keep nine.Cornerback: DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield
Safety: Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson, Madieu Williams, DeJon Gomes
Out: Kevin Barnes, Brandyn Thompson, Morgan Trent, Jordan Bernstine, Travon Bellamy, Reed DoughtyChanges from 2011: LaRon Landry signed with Jets as a free agent, O. J. Atogwe was released, signed with Eagles, Byron Westbrook not resigned; Signed Griffin, Meriweather, Jackson, Williams, and Trent as free agents, drafted Crawford and Bernstine (both 7th round), signed Minnifield as undrafted free agent.BreakdownThis is the extreme makeover edition of The 53. The secondary may be better than it was last year or it may be worse but it seems certain that it will be very different. The Redskins are guaranteed to have two new starting safeties in the wake of the departures of both Landry and Atogwe. It appears that they are ready to bring in a whole new batch of nickel and dime backs and depth players.Hall and Wilson will be the staring corners. Barnes was the nickel back for the first 13 games of last season before the now-departed Westbrook started to get most of the nickel snaps at the end of the year. Griffin was signed to be the nickel back and the team may be ready to move on from Barnes after three years and give Minnifield and Crawford a shot. The rookies stood out during OTAs and minicamp and if they can replicate that performance when the pads go on it will be hard to keep them off of the roster.Thompson is in the mix as well. He is athletic enough to be the playmaker that the Redskins are looking for at the position. Thompson bounced between the active roster and the practice squad all year and they only played him four snaps on defense, however, and he will have to show that he can earn some playing time if he is going to stick around for a second season.If they decide that they would rather not go strictly with youth for depth, Trent could stick around. He bounced around with three teams last year but he does have 36 games of NFL experience under his belt including three starts.One wild card in the mix is Westbrook. He remains unsigned. Word was that the Redskins offered him a three-year deal but he thought he might be able to get a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere. If he is still looking after a week or so of camp there could be a reunion between the 26-year-old, who has been with the organization since 2007, and the Redskins.At safety, the 30-year-old Williams was not guaranteed a roster spot when he signed as a free agent but he worked his way into great position to grab one during the offseason. With Jackson limited as he recovers from a shoulder injury Williams spent a lot of time with the first unit and his play and leadership drew a lot of praise.However, Mike Shanahan said over and over that safety was one of two positions (along with running back) that are very difficult to judge without pads on. It would not be surprising at all to see Bernstine earn a spot over Williams or Gomes or to see Doughty survive one again.It is also possible that Bernstine or Doughty could make it as a fifth safety. They went with four most of last year so they could do so again. Or maybe they will go with nine linebackers instead of the 10 I projected and keep another safety. Or perhaps the additional defensive back spot will go to Barnes, who could be a reserve at both corner and safety.LinebackersIn: 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 LewisDefensive 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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Trade winds, Cousins vs. McCoy

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Trade winds, Cousins vs. McCoy

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 25, 12 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 4
—NFL Combine (3/2) 5
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 51
—NFL Draft (4/27) 61
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 197

The Redskins week that was

Here is my take on some of the week’s top stories from Real Redskins and CSN Mid Atlantic.  

Cousins trade to 49ers could happen at combine, per NFL analyst—The Redskins must decide if they are ever going to sign Kirk Cousins long term. If the answer is no, they must figure out if they are better off having him around for one year prior to losing him without compensation or trying to trade him now. It is possible to simultaneously believe that the Redskins should sign Cousins for the long term but that trading him may be necessary.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Will McCloughan go defense in 1st round? If the best player available plays defense, he will. If he doesn’t I’m just going to have to shut down Twitter for a while. Or maybe I won’t have to since it will crash.

Under the radar issues for the Redskins—The offseason checklist has more than quarterback, D-line and wide receiver on it. The nine draft picks they have will be critical as they try to build on 2016’s occasionally frustrating results.

Why can't the Redskins sign Garcon and Jackson? That question is easy to answer—with Jamison Crowder due to get an extension next year they will run into cap problems if they bring both of them back. It does look like the numbers will work with one of them coming back, however, and if they do let both walk it will be a head-scratcher.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Can McCoy produce similar results at less cost than Cousins? With Colt McCoy under contract for $3 million and a potential Cousins tag costing nearly $24 million some at Redskins Park are wondering if Cousins is eight times better than McCoy and if he’s not, why pay him? This is kind of a silly question, like asking if Trent Williams is 15 times better than Ty Nsekhe or if Josh Norman is 20 times better than Kendall Fuller. The question is, does that player at that key position good enough to play his part in getting the team into the playoffs? McCoy hasn’t proven that he is, while Cousins has been to the playoffs once and just missed last year. The proven ability to do something counts for a lot in the form of the number of zeros in a player’s paycheck.

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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 Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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