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Good news for Mason-ites?

Good news for Mason-ites?

An opening for Mason?

The first round of cuts generally are insignificant. I'm not exactly sure why the NFL has teams trim about 6% of the roster on one day and then the remaining 34% necessary to get to the limit four days later. The release of Alfred Fincher, however, was a mild surprise and it lines up some tea leaves that we will proceed to attempt to read.

The release of the veteran linebacker, who was on the active roster all 16 games in 2008, leaves the Redskins with seven pure linebackers in H. B. Blades, London Fletcher, Cody Glenn, Robert Henson, Rocky McIntosh, Robert Thomas and Darrel Young. In addition, Brian Orakpo and Chris Wilson are listed as hybrid DE/LB's.

When I projected the final roster a few days ago, I had the Redskins keeping Fincher and cutting Glenn and Young, a rookie free agent out of Villanova. So, one might think that the departure of Fincher is a positive development for Glenn's or Young's chances for making the team.

And it could well be. But I think it's good news for somebody else.

In Blades, Henson, and Thomas the Redskins have good, flexible depth behind Fletcher and McIntosh. Wilson backs up Orakpo. Although they generally like to keep another linebacker for special teams they could get by with this group.

By my prediction that would mean that the defense is taking 25 roster spots. With three reserved for specialists that would leave 25 for the offense:

QB-3 WR-5 TE-3 OL-9

And five running backs. The Redskins have carried four for the past couple of seasons. That would mean that Marcus Mason could join Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright, and Mike Sellers.

That lets the Redskins keep their special teams stud in Cartwright, something that I believe Danny Smith will insist on given the departures of James Thrash and Khary Campbell. And it gives the Mason Masses, or whatever the group of fans out there insisting that Mason make the team, their man. And it gives the Redskins a four-tool running back—Mason can run, run with power, catch, and block.

The Redskins also could be creating a spot for Dominique Dorsey, who has done well returning punts and wasn't bad running the ball against New England. But I get the feeling that since the role of Antwaan Randle El is likely to diminish with the emergence of Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly as budding starting-quality receivers, Randle El will continue carrying the punt return duties. That would leave no room for Dorsey.

Something else could be going on. Anthony Aldridge, making his first appearance of the preseason, looked like a player against New England, perhaps room is being made for him. It could happen that they'll keep Glenn or Young on the roster. Or maybe a sixth wide receiver although it's hard to figure out why you would keep a D. J. Hackett and cut Dorsey or Mason.

A lot can happen between now and when the final cuts are made on Saturday. Mason is battling some bruised ribs and if he can't play effectively on Thursday that will have to ding his chances.

But it appears that the door has been opened for Mason and it may be up to him to put on a flak jacket and run through it.

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Redskins interview another former Chargers defensive coordinator

Redskins interview another former Chargers defensive coordinator

The Redskins continue to cast a wide net in their search for a new defensive coordinator. On Thursday, they interviewed John Pagano, who was recently let go as the defensive coordinator of the Chargers.

Pagano, the brother of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, has been coaching with the Chargers since 2002. That year he started as a quality control coach and then he was the linebackers coach from 2005-2011. The Chargers fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, a current Redskins coach and another candidate to run the defense in Washington, after the 2011 season and Pagano was promoted into that job.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

In Pagano’s five seasons with the Chargers, the performance of the defense was respectable. In terms of total yards, San Diego was in the top 10 twice and only once were they ranked worse than 20th.

The Redskins fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry on January 5. The list of candidates they have interviewed includes Mike Pettine, Gus Bradley, Rob Ryan, Manusky, and Jason Tarver. They are expected to interview former Jets and Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman on Friday.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

None of the candidates they have interviewed have accepted positions with other teams so they are all still in play. There is no timetable for the team to make a decision, although the sense is that the process is coming to a close and will be concluded in the near future.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: How long is too long in the Redskins' defensive coordinator search?

Need to Know: How long is too long in the Redskins' defensive coordinator search?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 20, 97 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 40
NFL free agency starts 48
First Sunday of 2017 season 233

Will Pleasant push the defensive coordinator search to a conclusion?

Is the Redskins’ search for a defensive coordinator taking too long? Joe Barry was fired two weeks ago yesterday. The Redskins have made it clear that they want to be very thorough in their search. But taking time creates problems and one just popped up. Assistant defensive back coach Aubrey Pleasant apparently has the option to follow Sean McVay to Los Angeles. But the Redskins want to hold on to him.

The problem is that they don’t want to sign Pleasant to be, say, the cornerbacks coach and tie the hands of the incoming defensive coordinator. They already would like the new guy to keep OLB coach Greg Manusky and ILB coach Kirk Olivadotti. Locking in a third position coach might made it very hard to persuade a quality coordinator to come on board.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

However, they can’t hold Pleasant, who is a young, energetic coach who relates well to the players, back indefinitely. Presumably McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips have a bigger role in mind for him and they won’t wait forever for him to get things resolved in Washington.

But it’s not like the Pleasant situation will need to be resolved by the close of business today. We’re talking days, not hours. How many days? They could lose him due because of the Redskins’ deliberate process if it stretches into sometime early next week. I think the chances are strong that there will be a decision on the new defensive coordinator by, say, the close of business on Tuesday.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

I’ll wrap this up with a quick round of laying out the $100 in casino chips on the various defensive coordinator candidates. Things have changed since I did it on Monday. I’ll still make Greg Manusky the favorite but I’ll drop him down five bucks to $35. I’m downgrading Mike Pettine down to a $10 wager; I’ve heard that the organization was not impressed with his interview. I’m more than doubling the wager on Gus Bradley to $25. It’s been a few days since reports that the Chargers were pressing him for a decision and yet he remains in play. I’m going with $10 on Dennis Thurmon, who is from the school of the aggressive style of play that Jay Gruden is looking for. Rob Ryan gets not a cent and the remaining $20, including John Pagao, who interviewed yesterday, goes on the field.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.