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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 look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 5, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:05; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 17; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 25

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Long's concussion could force roster move

First look at Redskins vs. Eagles

The last time: The Redskins won 27-20 at FedEx Field in Week 6 in a game that was not really as close as the score indicated. The Redskins outgained the Eagles 4923 yards to 239 and had the ball for 10 more minutes. Philly scored on a kickoff return and an interception return in a three-minute span in the second quarter and that was about all they had. The Redskins have now beaten the Eagles four straight times. 

The Eagles leaders: Quarterback Carson Wentz got off to a hot start, posting three passer ratings of over 100 in his first four games. In eight games since his passer rating is 70.1 and his high in a game is 91.4. Leading rusher Ryan Matthew had his first 100-yard game in Week 10; he shares the load with Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Jordan Matthews (57 receptions, 686 yards) is expected back after missing last week with an ankle injury. Sacks leader Brandon Graham (5.0) has only one sack in the last six games.

Be on the lookout: The Eagles have been getting it done on special teams for years. This year they have two kickoff return touchdowns and Darren Sproles averages 13.7 yards per punt return including a 66-yarder.

Hodgepodge: A Washington win would put them 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles with three to play. Barring a Philly win out/Redskins lose out scenario the Redskins would be out of last place in the NFC East in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-2003 . . . The Redskins already are ensured of avoiding double-digit losses in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-2002 . . . The Eagles have allowed over 400 yards of offense in two of their last three games.

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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