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The 53: OL starters look set, battles for reserve spots


The 53: OL starters look set, battles for reserve spots

The Redskins will report to training camp on July 25. Over the following 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 running backs, tight ends, quarterbacks, and wide receivers (see below for breakdowns). Today, its the offensive lineThere are 16 offensive linemen on the roster, the Redskins will keep nine.In: 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 MartinezChanges from 2011: OT Sean Locklear left as free agent (signed with NY Giants); Lee signed as a free agent, LeRibeus, Compton, Gettis selected in draft.BreakdownThere are many out in Redskins Nation who are undoubtedly disappointed that it appears that the same five players who started the season opener on the offensive line last year will do the same this year. It appears that the only thing that will prevent that from happening is a setback in the recovery of Kory Lichtensteigers injured knee.But the Redskins were 3-1 with that unit before things fell apart. And after the 10-sack Week 8 debacle in Toronto against the Bills things gelled for the reserves. The Redskins gave up an average of just two sacks a game in the last nine games of the season.The pressure is on Williams to become a star. At the other tackle, the pressure is on Brown to stay healthy and stay on the field. If he cant Smith or maybe even Compton could take his job as the year goes on. Lichtensteiger, Montgomery, and Chester arent threats to make the Pro Bowl but as long as they can plug up the middle on pass plays and get out to the next level on the stretch play they will be more than adequate.It appears that two of the backup spots are set with Smith and Polumbus. Smith made the team as an undrafted rookie last year and started the last three games of the season at left tackle after Williams was suspended. He was far from dominant but he did show some promise. Polumbus started games at both left guard and right tackle last year and he is a valuable backup.It seems like LeRibeus, the second player the Redskins drafted after RG3, quickly became a favorite of the coaches by diving in and learning both center and guard. Mike Shanahan has stressed versatility with his linemen and LeRibeus should earn a spot if he can master all three interior line spots, or at least become competent enough to fill in.Compton is in on a hunch and by default as much as anything else. Hurt has been moved back to tackle after starting eight games at guard last year and he will need to show substantial improvement to get a roster spot. The same goes for Cook, who started two games at center. While it would be a mistake to completely write off either one of them, the Redskins may just want to start fresh and work with Compton.If Compton demonstrates reasonable competence and potential it is hard to see him not staying over the 27-year-old James Lee, although the veteran does bring some experience as a starter with him. Compton would really have to fall on his face for the Redskins to keep Lee over him.And it wouldnt be a total shock for Gettis to make it over any of those four. He also is learning both guard and center and they could figure that they are set with Polumbus and Smith as the backup tackles and choose to develop him.If Cook and Hurt do not make it, neither is eligible for the practice squad. Compton and Gettis are eligible along with McCaskill, Martinez, and Garner. The practice squad is probably the most that the latter three can hope for.Projections to date (click for details and breakdown):Running backsIn: Roy Helu Jr., Tim Hightower, Evan Royster, Darrell Young
Out: Tristan Davis, Alfred Morris, Antwon Bailey, Lennon CreerTight endsIn: Fred Davis, Niles Paul, Chris Cooley
Out: Logan Paulsen, Richard Quinn, Beau RelifordWide receiversIn: 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: Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
Out: Jonathan Crompton

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Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

While it hasn’t been the best offseason for the Redskins organization in many respects it has been a good one for coach Jay Gruden. In the midst of turmoil over the status of general manager Scot McCloughan, Gruden got a two-year contract extension.

Although the final agreement on the deal came on March 4 in a steakhouse in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, team president Bruce Allen said that talk of extending Gruden started much earlier.

“It was after the season, Dan [Snyder], Jay and I got together and we talked about the game plan because we’d made some changes on the coaching staff as well following the season,” Allen told CSN’s JP Finlay at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

Gruden became the team’s head coach in 2014. His original five-year contract was set to expire after the 2018 season but now he is in the fold through 2020.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Gruden’s record in Washington is 21-26-1, not the kind of record that normally has an organization rushing to extend a head coach. But after a 4-12 inaugural season, Gruden has led the Redskins to records of 9-7 and 8-7-1 the last two years. While by many standards that is a modest achievement, it marked the first back-to-back winning seasons in Washington since 1996-1997. The hope is that Gruden will keep them moving in the right direction.

The extension is likely to be popular in the locker room as players have come to like Gruden’s style.  

“His directness, his sarcasm and at the same time he gets his coaching point in but the guys do like his sense of humor as well,” said Allen. 

It’s not known if Gruden’s extension gives him more authority over personnel. His original deal gave him very little, with first Allen and then McCloughan having the final say in personnel selection and control over who makes the 53-man roster. Some NFL head coaches have final say in free agency acquisition and in the draft while many have control over who makes the 53.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

Gruden does have some informal influence when it comes to the draft.

“He’s got a big role,” said Allen. “First of all, he coordinates all the coaches’ reports and when we set the draft board, Jay will be up there. He watches every player who will be on the draft board and he will have an opinion.”

There is a power vacuum at Redskins Park with McCloughan gone. A new general manager won’t get hired until after the draft and the authority of that GM will have will be a matter of negotiation. It would not be surprising to see Gruden ending up with roster control.

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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Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 28, 30 days before the April 27 NFL draft.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 20
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 45
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 57
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 109
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 157

Tuesday three and out

1. Maybe Bruce Allen and the Redskins have a master plan for saving the whole Kirk Cousins situation but right now it just looks like they’re stuck without a solution to paying $24 million to a quarterback who likely will be gone in a year. That’s money that could either be rolled over into future seasons if Cousins gets traded or used as a down payment on a long-term Cousins deal. Maybe there’s a master plan there somewhere but right now it looks an awful lot like the organization is just stumbling around in the dark, stubbing its toe while trying to find the light switch.

2. WR Brian Quick will cost the Redskins less against the salary cap than they are paying him. That’s because his contract takes advantage of the minimum salary benefit. He gets the sixth-year minimum salary of $775,000 plus an $85,000 signing bonus, a total of $860,000. Because of the minimum salary and low signing bonus the CBA rules allow the team to essentially discount the cap hit for the contract down to $695,000. The rule is designed so that younger players are necessarily cheaper, at least when it comes to the salary cap.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

3. Allen hinted that the Redskins won’t necessarily hire a general manager after the draft. While talking to colleague JP Finlay he said, “We’ll talk about what we need after the draft from a staffing standpoint.” Not “we’ll search high and low for the best GM in the business” but that needs will be examined. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

And out—Allen didn’t have much to say when JP asked about the stadium project that was a hot topic a year or so ago, only confirming that talks are ongoing. The fact that he had so little to say, not even some platitudes about the desire to build a great environment for the fans. Reading between the lines, this makes me think that a deal is getting close and the less that is said about it at this point the better. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will be term limited out of office next January and the feeling is that he will want to leave a Redskins stadium deal as his legacy.

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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