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Jansen at Center a problem of altitude

Jansen at Center a problem of altitude

During last week's OTA's, Joe Bugel said that, as of now, Jon Jansen is the Washington Redskins' #2 center behind Casey Rabach.

"Jon has been a back-up center in college and we have him working at back-up center," Bugel said. "We always want to get the five best guys on the field, so if Rabach got hurt who do you plug in? Right now I'd have to say Jon Jansen."

Casey Rabach had better stay healthy. At best, this is a dubious move, or experiment.

Jansen's college career ended in 1998. He started 50 consecutive games at tackle for Michigan. In his junior and senior years he was the team co-captain. It's possible that he occasionally moved over a couple of slots from time to time and made some snaps in practice. But it's hard to believe that Lloyd Carr couldn't comb through his roster of 85 scholarship players and find a second-string center that would allow his star tackle to focus on playing tackle.

OK, so it may be a stretch to put "college backup center" on Jansen's resume. But he's a pro's pro, right? He can learn a new position, can't he?

Well, nobody has ever accused Todd Wade of being a slacker and he was unable to make the transition from tackle to guard last year. The problem wasn't one of attitude; it was one of altitude. Wade is 6-8 and he literally couldn't fit into the position. His height prevented him from getting the proper leverage to deal with the massive bodies at defensive tackle and it was a hindrance when he attempted to pull.

Jansen is 6-6 and I took a look around to see how his height compares to that of other centers in the league. In the NFC East, Rabach listed at 6-4, the same as Jamaal Jackson of the Eagles and Andre Gurode of Dallas. Shaun O'Hara of the Giants checked in at 6-3.

I kept on checking around the entire NFL. Of the 32 centers who were listed as first string as of the end of last season on NFL.com's depth charts, 28 of them were between 6-2 and 6-4. One, Dominic Raiola of the Lions, is shorter than the standard at 6-1. Three others, Mike Flanagan of the Texans, Jeremy Newberry of the Raiders and John Wade of Tampa Bay, are 6-5.

It can't be a coincidence that 87.5% of the starting centers in the league are within that 3-inch range in height. Obviously, that's the ideal height for working in the middle of the line. It doesn't mean that anyone outside of that range can't perform there, but it tells me that it would be considerably more difficult, especially if one is playing the position on a part-time basis.

What is making Buges and the Redskins consider this option is the numbers game. The team probably will carry nine offensive linemen. The five starters are Jansen, Rabach, Chris Samuels, Pete Kendall, and Randy Thomas. Stephon Heyer, who presumably would step in at right tackle should Jansen have to go snap the ball, is safe. Wade isn't quite as secure, but there are no other tackles on the roster right now.

On the inside, Chad Reinhart, the Redskins' third-round draft pick, would have to fall flat on his face to be left off of the roster. There was talk of him being the backup center, but it seems that they have decided to let him focus on playing guard in hopes that he will be able to step in for Kendall in 2009.

Jason Fabini, who filled in for Thomas at right guard most of last year, is the pre-camp favorite to snag the last OL spot. He is a converted tackle and at 6-7 he's not a good candidate to work at center either.

Rookie free agents Andrew Crummey and Kerry Brown are long shots to make the team. But as 6-5 guards, one or both could make the practice squad and play center on the scout team.

The Redskins could pluck an experienced center off of the waiver wire but that would mean that they would lose depth at other positions.

They could keep 10 offensive linemen but that would hinder depth at other positions. Keep in mind that many teams utilize their long snappers as their backup centers, but Ethan Albright is very much the specialist and he won't be snapping to Jason Campbell.

You would think that the Bugel would have learned from the Wade experiment and that he would shy away from trying to squeeze a tall peg into a short hole.

Again, Redskins fans should be hoping for good health for Casey Rabach.

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Need to Know: Redskins pre-camp 53-man roster projection, offense

Need to Know: Redskins pre-camp 53-man roster projection, offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 24, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 48 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 17
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

Redskins roster projection—offense

The Redskins strap it up and start the battle for roster spots in earnest in just three days. Some are locks, others are hoping to hang on. Here is my prediction of the roster will shake out along with players who are on the bubble. The offense is up today, the defense tomorrow.

Players I have making the roster who are new to the organization in 2017 are in italics. Rookies are also underlined.

Quarterback (3)

Starter: Kirk Cousins
Backups: Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld

Cousins and the team didn’t agree on the contract but that changes nothing for 2017. The elimination of two-a-day practices makes a fourth “camp arm” QB unnecessary so these three will handle all the snaps from now until when the season ends.   

Running backs (3)

Starter: Rob Kelley
Backups: Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson

Bubble: Mack Brown, Keith Marshall

Kelley skipped the drive-through window meals during the offseason, switching to a healthier diet to get himself in better shape. He will need to be strong to hold off Perine, who will make a push for playing time. Brown could be on or off depending on numbers elsewhere on the roster. If Marshall can stay healthy, he could force his way into the picture but the health is a big “if”.

Wide receivers (6)

Starters: Josh Doctson, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Backups: Maurice Harris, Ryan Grant, Robert Davis

Bubble: Brian Quick

I’m not sure if Grant, who caught nine passes while playing in all 16 games last year, should be a lock but it appears that he is. Davis is a projection; he has a lot to learn but if he is showing significant progress he could push out the veteran Quick, who was not impressive during the offseason practices.    

Tight ends (4)

Starter: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Jeremy Sprinkle

Bubble: Derek Carrier

Paul and Sprinkle could be considered on the bubble as well. The normal allowance is for three tight ends on the 53-man roster. Reed and Davis are locks, they need Paul for special teams, and Sprinkle is slated to be the blocking tight end. But Sprinkle needs to add a lot of polish to his game and Paul has the injury bug to fight. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Offensive line (9)

Starters (left to right): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses
Backups: Ty Nsekhe, Arie Kouandjio, Vinston Painter, Chase Roullier

Bubble: John Kling

The starters are locked in unless Kouandjio can come up with a huge camp and push Lauvao out of the starting job. Roullier could be the backup center but if he’s not ready the Redskins could look for a veteran off the waiver wire for that spot.

Offensive breakdown: 25 players, four rookies, a total of five new to the Redskins.

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.

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The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER WITH KEY STATS FOR KIRK COUSINS IN 2017

Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins:

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP