Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 16, 11 days before the start of OTAs. Nickel coverage The Redskins’ rookie minicamp gets underway today; the media will be able to watch on Saturday. Here are five things I’ll be looking for:
Who returns punts and kicks? This never was resolved last year and among the players signed and drafted so far, none is an obvious candidate. They probably won’t do much more than just catch kicks but seeing who does that could be the first piece of the puzzle.
Does Spencer Long play center? I’m not sure if they are going to have Long line up in the middle of the line this year. But they could get an idea of what he can do if they do put him at center for this. In particular, they will get an idea of if shotgun/pistol snaps will come easily to him.
What’s Gruden’s on-field demeanor? Is he a yeller? How much individual instruction/attention does he give players? Does he observe the defense at all?
How well does Cody Hoffman move? The 6-4 wide receiver out of Brigham Young is a fan favorite to make the roster. They might be on to something since the receiving corps lacks height and that’s something that Gruden has been known to favor. But he needs to learn how to fight his way off the line and run better routes if he’s going to have a chance.
How is Bashaud Breeland’s game speed? If he had shaved a tenth or so off of his 4.53 time in the 40-yard dash he might have been a first- or second-round draft pick. Players can make up for a lack of great foot speed with smarts. It will be interesting to see how well Breeland anticipates and tracks the ball in the air.
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—It’s been 138 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 114 days until they play the Texans in the 2014 season opener.
—Days until: OTAs 11; Training camp starts 68; Preseason opener Patriots @ Redskins 83
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The Redskins made a couple of roster moves just before departing for Arizona to play the Cardinals.
They signed cornerback Dashaun Phillips from the practice squad and cut offensive tackle Blaine Clausell. The Redskins also waived safety David Bruton Jr. off of injured reserve.
Phillips was the Redskins’ nickel corner for the first three games of the season, and he made four tackles and recovered a fumble. But they moved rookie Kendall Fuller up into the slot corner role in Week 4 and Phillips spent several weeks on the inactive list before being waived on November 12 and added to the practice squad three days later.
The moves became known after Redskins coach Jay Gruden had spoken to the media for the day so we can only speculate as to the reasoning behind them. Actually, the release of Clausell isn’t hard to figure out. He was signed after Trent Williams started his four-game suspension and with Williams set to return on Monday and the other options at backup tackle healthy there was no point in keeping him around.
Phillips is likely going to Arizona as an insurance policy. The Cardinals like to spread the field with a lot of wide receivers. They will want to have five cornerbacks active. They do have Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, and Greg Toler. But Breeland is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and they Redskins don’t want to take any chance of being caught short-handed at cornerback if he suffers a setback. That’s especially true when they don’t need to bring an extra tackle along.
Depending on how things shake out injury-wise against the Cardinals there is a good chance that we could see Phillips on the waiver wire once again as a roster spot will be needed for Williams.
Bruton started the first four games of the season at safety before going on injured reserve with a concussion. This past offseason he signed a three-year, $9 million free agent contract with $3.4 million full guaranteed. There will be a deal cap hit of approximately $1.7 million in 2017 to account for the prorated bonus.
TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.
DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.
LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.
G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.
T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.
CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.
RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.
Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)
Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.