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Chris Horton a lock?

Chris Horton a lock?

It probably would be inaccurate to say that Chris Horton is happy that fellow Washington Redskins safety Stuart Schweigert is now his former teammate. Pros, even rookies, don't revel in players becoming unemployed, even ones that play the same position.

However, although Horton isn't doing a happy dance, it's doubtful that he's moping around the conference center that the Redskins are calling home during training camp after hearing the news of the former Raider's departure. While Schweigert's departure doesn't guarantee a roster spot for the seventh-round pick in the April draft, it helps Horton immeasurably.

You don't play your way onto a roster in one preseason game, especially the first of five, and you don't play your way off of the team in that one game, either. However, if what happens in that game reinforces impressions—negative or positive—that the coaching staff has about your play, that one game can be decisive.

Schweigert has more starting experience than the rest of the corps of safeties combined, but he's been practically invisible in training camp. His lackluster performance has been in contrast to that of Horton, who has been living up to his reputation is a big hitter.

On the Colts' first touchdown, Onrea Jones bolted by rookie cornerback Justin Tryon and into the open to catch a 30-yard touchdown pass from Quinn Gray. Arriving into the picture way too late was Schweigert, who apparently was supposed to be covering the deep zone.

It's not unreasonable to figure that the coaches thought that if Schweigert couldn't handle his assignment on the Gray to O. Jones combination the duos of Romo to Owens and Manning to Burress would be beyond the scope of his abilities. They hadn't seen anything in practice to counter that impression, so the decision was made to let him go.

Horton isn't ready for prime time either, but he is hustling and he's eager to learn. In his very first play as a professional football player he had the presence of mind to watch for the onside kick and the recovered the ball after one or two teammates had muffed chances to do so. He was greatly aided on his two sacks by the fact that the Colts' blitz pickups were nonexistent, but you have to give him credit for going in and making the tackles. His takedown of Jared Lorenzen was particularly impressive. A lot of DB's would have bounced off of the 285-lb. quarterback trying to make a big hit, but Horton just grabbed hold and wrestled him to the ground.

Just like the numbers game works against Marcus Mason, it works in favor of Chris Horton. Patrick Ghee, a second-year player who was on the Carolina practice squad for a while last year, was signed in Schweigert's spot, so there still are six safeties on the roster. The Redskins are likely to keep five, so that means that Horton just has to beat out either Ghee or Kareem Moore. The former has already been cut by the Skins earlier this year and although the latter was selected 69 spots ahead of Horton, Moore has been sidelines with a knee problem for most of OTA's and camp.

Horton's not a lock, but he's as close to one as a seventh-round pick can be after one-fifth of the preseason schedule.

Join me for a live blog of Saturday's preseason game. Go here for details.

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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Offensive line

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Offensive line

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 on Thursday. 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.

This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. On offense we’ve put the wide receivers, running backs and tight ends under the microscope. Today the focus turns to the offensive line.

2016 final game starters: (left to right) Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses

Due to some injuries and a four-game Williams suspension, this group started only seven games together.

Departures: C John Sullivan (UFA), C Kory Lichtensteiger (retired)

Sullivan signed after some early season injuries and he started one game. He was a good security blanket for Jay Gruden, who liked having an experienced backup for the middle of the line.

Lichtensteiger missed a combined 24 games in 2015-2016. He may not have been back even he had not decided to retire.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

Projected 2017 starters: (left to right) Williams, Lauvao, Long, Scherff, Moses

The one spot in any doubt is left guard. Lauvao is in the final year of his contract with a $4 million salary. Jay Gruden has expressed confidence in him but a guard drafted in the first few rounds this week could change all of that.

Moses and Long are in the final seasons of their contracts so they may need a succession plan in place at their positions.

2017 reserves: G: Arie Kouandjio, Ronald Patrick; T Ty Nsekhe, Isaiah Williams, Vinston Painter, John Kling, Kevin Bowen

The glaring hole here is at center. With Sullivan and Lichtensteiger gone they don’t have anyone for the middle of the line if Spencer Long is out. They could try to find one in the draft but it’s possible that they will be on the lookout for a veteran on the waiver wire between now and Week 1.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often  

Nsekhe is one of the best backup tackles in the league and the Redskins will be happy to have him even if he doesn’t play a single snap. Painter was on the roster for 13 games and he played just 10 snaps on offense.

Kouandjio is the only solid backup at guard and he could push for Lauvao’s starting job. If he wins the job and the team doesn’t want to pay Lauvao $4 million to be a backup, the Redskins will need a couple of guards for depth. Look for one or two to come their way in Rounds 3-5 this week.

Where can the offensive line find improvement?

The left guard spot was the weak link on the chain last year. Lauvao was charged with 32 QB hurries, by far the most on the team. Whether it’s Lauvao becoming fully healthy (a 2015 ankle injury limited him for the offseason program last year) or Kouandjio or another starter from the draft, the position has to be better in 2017.

Another factor that will help is Trent Williams being available for 16 games. Yes, Nsekhe is a very good backup. But in four starts Nsekhe allowed a sack plus 13 pressures. Williams started 12 games and allowed two sacks and 14 pressures. They are paying Williams $11.25 million this year for a reason.

Locks and bubble players

Trent Williams, Long, Scherff, Moses and Nsekhe are locks. Lauvao and Kouandjio are close but the draft could have an impact on them.

Out of the bubble players it would seem that Painter has the best shot of sticking simply because he was in the program last year. Bowe and Kling are huge and they are long shots who will draw interest if they can use their size.

The chances of any of the bubble players will be affected by the draft. There could be some fun competitions down the depth chart in training camp.

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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NFL Draft Countdown: 5 questions for Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell

NFL Draft Countdown: 5 questions for Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell

Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell will speak to the media on Monday, and there are plenty of questions as Washington prepares for the draft on Thursday.

Some of the most important topics will not be about what college players the 'Skins will target, but rather the state of the front office since the ouster of former general manager Scot McCloughan. That said, Campbell plays a huge role in draft decisions, and it will be quite interesting to inquire on strategy. 

Below are five questions for Campbell:

  1. What now - With McCloughan gone, what, if any, changes have happened in the front office? Does Campbell have more control or input on player selection? 
  2. Final say - Again, with McCloughan gone, who makes the final call on players? Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden made very clear during NFL League Meetings a few weeks back that a composite of Redskins officials work to establish a grade for each draft prospect. The team then drafts based on those grades. But eventually, the team will be forced to deviate from the draft board or make a decision on two players with similar grades. Who makes the final call?
  3. Need or talent - Redskins fans tend to grow frustrated at the suggestion of taking the best player available in the NFL Draft, but that is also the methodology the franchise has employed. That system delivered first-round picks of a guard in 2015 and a receiver in 2016; neither position had great need. Washington most needs help on its defensive line, and the defensive side of the ball overall.
  4. Sweet 17 - The entire draft is an opportunity for the 'Skins to add talent, but no pick carries as much potential as the 17th overall. The speculation is wild about what player might land with the Burgundy and Gold, and the rumors will only build this week. Is a running back in play? Haason Reddick? Could off-field concerns drop Reuben Foster to 17? 
  5. Another arm - Washington has Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy and Nate Sudfeld under contract in 2017. After that, however, Cousins could be gone. Will the 'Skins look to add another passer, perhaps on Friday or Saturday in the later rounds? If they do, it's unlikely the team will carry four QBs this fall, so a decision could accompany that pick.
  6. Trading places - Might a trade be in the works? Last year the Skins made a number of trades over the course of the three-day draft, and it's likely more deals get worked out this week in Philadelphia. Does that mean a mega-trade that includes Cousins? Probably not. But it would not be a surprise if the franchise traded down in the first round, like they did in 2016. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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