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Is Buckeyes' WR Thomas the big receiver the Redskins need?

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Is Buckeyes' WR Thomas the big receiver the Redskins need?

The NFL draft is 70 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how he might fit in Washington.

Michael Thomas
Wide receiver
Ohio State

Height: 6-3
Weight: 210

What they’re saying
Thomas isn't the fastest or most explosive, but he is a good-sized athlete and detailed route-runner with little wasted movements to create spacing at the stem. Although he will need time to adapt to a NFL playbook, he projects as an ideal No. 2 wide receiver at the next level due to his savvy footwork, body control and ball-skills to be a reliable possession target.
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins could be in desperate need of receivers a year from now. Both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are going to be 30-year-old free agents. Andre Roberts is unlikely to be on the roster past next month. Ryan Grant is fine for a fill in role but he’s not a front line receiver. Rashad Ross has speed but he has a lot to learn. Jamison Crowder is a fine slot receiver but you can’t build your attack around him.

If the Redskins are going to need a receiver next year the time to draft him is this year. Thomas seems to fill the bill in terms of what the Redskins have been seeking the last decade or longer—a big wide receiver. He is tall at 6-3 and he plays up to his size, showing an uncanny knack for being able to track the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and going up to get it at the high point.

Thomas would give the Redskins another red zone threat to compliment Jordan Reed, providing another option is Reed is out (and, let’s face it, he’ll probably miss a few games every year) and to force the defense to make tough choices when both of them are on the field.

Potential issues: Thomas does not have great speed and defensive backs will play tight and challenge him to beat them deep. It will be interesting to see what he runs in the 40-yard dash at the combine, although the numbers on the stop watch won’t influence Scot McCloughan much.

For a big receiver his run blocking leaves something to be desired as well. It’s not like he shies away from contact and he should be able to be coached up here.

Bottom line: The temptation to go for an immediate need in the first round, when the chances of getting a player who can start or at least contribute heavily right away are much better. Wide receiver is a big need for the near future but if everyone stays healthy—and that’s a big if—Thomas would be the fourth receiver. That might make Thomas a better option for the second round.

Will he still be there? With over two months to go until the draft gets underway it’s hard to tell. Right now it seems unlikely that he will last until the 53rd pick. But if he is still there you’d have to think that McCloughan would figure he’s the best player available and put him in burgundy and gold.

Previously in Combine Countdown:

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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In case you missed it

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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. 

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