Here are five things I’ll be looking for at today’s OTA session at Redskins Park, which is open to the media:
Spencer Long at right guard—He will line up with the first team after last week’s departure of Chris Chester. Last year Jay Gruden let it be known that Long had the opportunity to push past Chester on the depth chart but he never could quite do it. This year they apparently think he is ready. They’re not in pads yet so it will be an incomplete picture of where he is in his development but we can see how he fits in with the starters.
Robert Griffin III’s consistency—Last week the quarterback was not bad, not great. That was fine for the first OTA, the first time the offense had lined up against the defense and Griffin had a chance to put together the classroom learning and the individual drills that he has been working on. But progress is expected and he should be a little bit more confident and effective than he was last week.
Jerrell Powe and Willie Smith—These are two young veterans signed this week who could be more than camp fodder. Powe could push for a backup nose tackle spot and Smith, who broke into the NFL in 2011 when he made the Redskins as an undrafted rookie, will compete for one of the spots as a reserve tackle. Both have started some NFL games so they are worth keeping an eye on.
Duke Ihenacho at strong safety—The coaches appear to be intrigued by Ihenacho, who started in a Super Bowl for the Broncos after the 2013 season. I have not see him work much since he came to the Redskins just before the season started and was on injured reserve a few weeks later. It will be interesting to see what he can do.
Preston Smith coverage—I want to see him dropping back and see how he does there. His ability to do that will go a long way towards determining how much he will play this year. If teams know he has to pass rush when he is in at linebacker that will limit what the defense can do to confuse the opposing quarterback. It also would mean that Ryan Kerrigan would have to drop back in coverage more and he’s more impactful moving forwards, not backwards.
I suppose I could add a sixth item and say I’m looking forward to hearing what DeSean Jackson has to say about missing the first week of OTAs last week. But I find it difficult to gin up much enthusiasm about being absent for three days of voluntary work. Jackson has no obligation to explain himself to the media or anyone except possibly his coaches and teammates.
Today’s practice starts at 11:15. Look for practice tweets from me @Rich_TandlerCSN and colleague @TarikCSN, my practice report after it’s over, and reports on what the players and Jay Gruden had to say. Oh, and look for some pictures and videos on the Real Redskins Facebook page and @RichTandler on Instagram.
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.
—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199
Free agent moves—Offense
Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.
Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.
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Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.
Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.
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Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.
Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.
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It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.
<<<CLICK HERE TO SEE 5 PROSPECTS FOR THE REDSKINS AT NO. 2 PICK>>>
Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.
That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.
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It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out.
<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>
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