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Despite win status quo holds for Redskins in NFC race

Despite win status quo holds for Redskins in NFC race

Washington beat the Vikings 26-20 and while there was some shuffling in the standings during the course of Week 10 Sunday, the Redskins ended up the day right where they started.

The win moved the Redskins’ record to 5-3-1. They started the day in position to be the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs and they finished it right in that same place.

There is a chance that the Redskins will move up a notch tonight. The Giants host the Bengals on Monday night football. If they lose they will be 5-4 and the Redskins would move up into the No. 5 slot, the top wild card team. That difference doesn’t mean much at the end of the season—it determines which division champ they would go visit—and it means even less now. But it’s better to be further up in the standings than not.

The other two NFC East teams were in action on Sunday and they both survived tough tests. The Eagles moved to 5-4 and stayed just a half-game behind Washington by beating Atlanta. And for the longest time it looked like the Cowboys might lose for the first time since Week 1 and fall to a game and a half ahead of the Redskins. But they rallied to beat the Steelers and they are now 8-1, the best record in the NFL.

Regardless of what the Giants do tonight, all four NFC East teams will go into Week 11 with winning records. At this time a year ago nobody in the division was over .500. The Giants led the division at 5-5, Washington and Philly were 4-5 and the Cowboys were bringing up the rear at 2-7.

We will know a lot more about how the Redskins will look going down the stretch in 10 days, after the Redskins play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. In between the Redskins host the Packers next Sunday night. Green Bay has lost three in a row and they are reeling. They will be fighting for playoff survival and Washington will be facing the proverbial wounded animal.

But for now they can check off one win in the four games without Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams and the first of possibly multiple games without speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The Redskins will take it and move on to their brutal stretch of playing two games in a 96-hour stretch.

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History suggests Redskins could land defensive tackle in 1st round

History suggests Redskins could land defensive tackle in 1st round

Much talk surrounding the political scene in Washington centers on rebuilding infrastructure. Much talk surrounding the football scene in Washington centers on rebuilding the defensive line. Like infrastructure spending, there is plenty of talk about building up the Redskins D-line, but little action. 

This offseason, Washington lost defensive tackles Chris Baker and Ricky Jean-François. Replacing them, the franchise signed Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain. While the new additions are younger than the players they replaced, neither has shown the ability of Baker or durability of Jean-François. Not to suggest McGee and McClain can't be better, but collectively, they haven't done it yet.

That leads the Redskins brass to this week's NFL Draft, with the first round held Thursday night. It's been more than 20 seasons since the 'Skins selected a defensive tackle in the first round, but oddly, the last time it happened has a strong similarity to 2017.

In 1997, then general manager Charley Casserly selected Kenard Lang out of Miami with the 17th overall pick. Thursday night, Bruce Allen and the 'Skins draft team hold the 17th pick. Washington has not selected at 17 since they took Lang 20 years ago. 

Digging a bit deeper, the Burgundy and Gold have selected in the 17th overall spot four times in the franchise's history. Two of those four selections have been used to take defensive linemen; Lang in 1997 and Bobby Wilson in 1991. 

It's relatively easy to dismiss the odd coincidence of the 17th pick and D-line selections. In fact, barring some unexpected development Thursday night, there isn't really a true defensive tackle that makes sense at 17.

Remember, however, that crazy things happen at the NFL Draft. Every year. 

And history tends to repeat itself.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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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.