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Looking at the Redskins' roster locks going into OTAs

Looking at the Redskins' roster locks going into OTAs

The Redskins have the league maximum 90 players on their roster and a lot of what goes on between now and the season opener against the Steelers will be about finding out who will be on the final 53-man roster. There is plenty of talk from Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan about competition. But how much competition is there really? How many of those coveted 53 jobs are already locked up and how many are up for grabs? As OTA’s start tomorrow let’s take a look with the caveat that injuries and a truly surprising performance could change the picture for a few players.

Right now, it looks like these players are locks to make the final roster:

Offense (18)

QB (2): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
RB (2): Matt Jones, Chris Thompson
WR (5): Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder
TE (3): Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Vernon Davis
OL (6): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio

Nate Sudfeld will be the third quarterback but the team might try to carry him on the practice squad rather than on the 53. Keith Marshall has to overcome a history of injuries to make it. I could have included Rashad Ross among the receiver locks but he will need to show improvement in his ability as an NFL receiver and be more than just a fast guy. Shawn Lauvao is on the bubble due to his high salary cap number ($5 million) and the injuries to his lower extremities that likely will keep him out all of the offseason and perhaps training camp. You have to consider Ty Nsekhe a solid favorite to beat out Takoby Cofield for the backup tackle job but not quite a lock. Some might see Lichtensteiger as being on the bubble but I think he stays around as a guard/center reserve even if he loses his starting job.

The Redskins are likely to keep 25 offensive players so there are seven jobs up for grabs on that side of the ball.

Defense (21)

DL (6): Stephen Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Matt Ioannidis, Trent Murphy, Kendall Reyes
LB (7): Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Mason Foster, Su’a Cravens
DB (8): Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho, David Bruton, Will Blackmon

I’m tempted to add Kedric Golston as a lock on the defensive line since he is the ultimate survivor but I’m not convinced that they will keep more than six on the D-line. As discussed here, there will be a huge battle for the remaining one or two inside linebacker spots. They kept 10 defensive backs last year but they have some versatility this year so they may carry only nine in 2016.

There are likely to be 25 defensive players on the roster so that leaves four spots open.

The three specialists on the roster, kicker Dustin Hopkins, punter Tress Way, and long snapper Nick Sundberg, are all locks.

That makes a total of 42 locks so 11 jobs are up for grabs. Who is in contention for those 11 spots? We’ll take a look tomorrow.

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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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.