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Enemy Intel: Some head scratching around the NFC East after first round

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Enemy Intel: Some head scratching around the NFC East after first round

There was some head scratching around the NFC East as the Redskins’ three division rivals made their initial selections in the NFL draft.

Many thought that the Giants would look at upgrading their offensive line with the 12th pick of the first round. But when offensive tackle Taylor Lewan went off the board immediately before the Giants went on the clock there wasn’t a lineman that represented good value with the pick. Having lost Hakeem Nicks to free agency, they needed a running mate for Victor Cruz at wide receiver. LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham was the man.

It’s not a pick you can really hate but ESPN’s Dan Graziano didn’t think too much of it:
I don't like it, honestly. And this is nothing against the player, who's superfast and might well turn out to be a star. This isn't about predicting how these guys will play, because we can't. It's about assessing what kind of job the team did in maximizing the value of its pick. And in a draft like this, with so much talent at wide receiver, I don't see why a wide receiver under 6 feet tall is worth the No. 12 overall pick.
There was a lot of suspense a short while later when the Cowboys were on the clock and Johnny Manziel was on the board but Jerry Jones resisted the temptation to make a big splash. Dallas took a lineman but, in the eyes of many, Zack Martin plays on the wrong side of the ball. After releasing DeMarcus Ware and losing Jason Hatcher to free agency the Cowboys need help to bolster a defense that was ranked 32nd last year with those two pass rushers. And though you can’t fault them for taking Martin, who will lock down right tackle for them for many years, the need for defense is so glaring even Jones recognizes it.

“Right now, we need a defensive player more than we need an offensive player,” Jones said to reporters after last night’s first round ended.

“It’s no secret,” Jones reiterated later. “We’d like to have some defense in this draft.”

The Eagles had no interest in Manziel but the Browns wanted him badly enough to trade up to the 22nd pick to nab Johnny Football. The Eagles moved back to 26th and picked up a third-round pick in the process.

The joke in Philly this morning is that they must have gotten confused because they used that first-round pick on a third-round player. That’s the grade that Mel Kiper had on Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith. Smith does fill a need but some wonder if they could have taken him later in the draft.

“NFL Network’s Mike Mayock—who’s perhaps the best at what he does—had Smith ranked 53rd overall, eight spots behind [Missouri’s Kony] Ealy and 12 behind Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence, another outside linebacker,” noted Geoff Mosher on CSNPhilly.com. “If Mayock’s right, the Eagles not only didn’t take the best player available but also didn’t even take the best pass rusher left on the board.”

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Losers of two straight games and for the first time in a month outside of the playoff picture, a desperate Redskins squad travels to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. All the action kicks off on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at noon, but to get ready for the action, here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Getting back to good, or at least decent - Two weeks ago the Redskins seemed like a dangerous playoff squad with a strong offense and an improving defense. After two straight losses where Joe Barry's defense has given up 62 total points, the questions are mounting for Washington. Can the defense get stops on 3rd down? Generate a turnover? The good news for the Redskins is that the Eagles are struggggggling. Their offense has not score more than 15 points in three straight weeks. 
  2. Feed the fat one - After giving Rob Kelley just 28 carries in the last two games, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay owned up to the Redskins lack of run game, "I definitely feel like I could’ve been more patient on some of those early down and distances where you get a little bit pass-heavy. And that’s something that as a decision-maker and as a coordinator, I have to do a better job." In a Week 6 win Kelley and Matt Jones piled up more than 200 rush yards against the Eagles. The 'Skins offense likely won't feature Jones, but expect McVay to feed Fat Rob plenty on Sunday.
  3. Playing in pain - The Redskins offense features a number of dynamic playmaking threats, but arguably the best is tight end Jordan Reed. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Reed separated his left shoulder, and though he finished that game he was forced out of action in Arizona. Expect Reed to be back Sunday, and expect Kirk Cousins to look for him early and often. On the season, Reed has more than 600 receiving yards and five TDs.
  4. If it ain't broke - Kirk Cousins has had more success against the Eagles than any other team in the NFC East. In four career games against Philly, COusins averages 336 yards per game passing to go with a 101.3 QB rating. He's thrown 10 touchdowns against the Eagles to just two interceptions. The biggest win of his career came last year when Cousins and the 'Skins clinched the NFC East title at Lincoln Financial Field. Cousins suceeds against the Eagles, and there's no reason it should stop Sunday. 
  5. Don't fly away - Rumors are starting to circulate that the Eagles would like to bring back DeSean Jackson next season. It's well known that Jackson will probably hit free agency after this season, and if Philly did pursuit their former playmaker, it would make sense. But between now and then, Jackson has another opportunity to torch his former team and help the Skins pursue a Wild Card bid at the same time. In his past two games, Jackson and COusins have connected on deep patterns, and there's little reason to tbink the same won't happen Sunday.

Numbers & Notes

  • If tight end Vernon Davis catches three passes he will become the 12th tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions.
  • With two more catches, wide receiver Jamison Crowder will set a single-season career high in receptions. He caught 59 passes in 2015.
  • If the Redskins win would mark five straight victories against the Eagles for the Redskins for the first time since a six-game winning streak in the series across the 1981-84 seasons.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!