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Need to Know: 5 observations on the Redskins' 53-man roster

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Need to Know: 5 observations on the Redskins' 53-man roster

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, September 1, six days before the Redskins open their season against the Texans.

Nickel coverage

Five observations about the Redskins’ 53-man roster:

—The waiver claim of Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho makes a lot of sense. It’s hard for a team that’s as needy at safety as the Redskins to turn down the chance to get a player who started 14 games and three playoff games, including the Super Bowl. According to some reports he is a box safety with limited coverage skills. The fact that he’s not an all-around safety is not surprising since such players are very rarely available on the waiver wire. We will see how quickly he can get up to speed.

—I still am puzzled by the decision to let both Chris Thompson and Lache Seastrunk go, even though Thompson has returned to the practice squad. Keeping at least one speed back on the 53-man roster seems to be the smart way to go. But if Thompson can stick on the practice practice squad and develop there instead of while taking up roster spots it will be a case of all’s well that ends well.

—Right now I’m not sure if the Redskins are better off on the offensive line than they were a year ago but they could be better a year from now. There might be a slight upgrade in the starters with Kory Lichtensteiger taking over for Will Montgomery at center and Shawn Lauvao moving in at left guard. But if Morgan Moses and Spencer Long can develop into starters as projected (and/or if Josh LeRibeus can as well) it could be a major upgrade. But draft picks carry no guarantees, especially not third rounders, so we will have to wait and see.

—The most improved unit on the team clearly is wide receiver. Pierre Garçon, Santana Moss, and Aldrick Robinson are back. DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Ryan Grant replace Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, and Nick Williams. You don’t need much explanation or advanced stats to tell you that it’s a better unit.

—A few numbers: The Redskins’ roster has 25 players on offense, 25 on defense, and three specialists. A total of 24 players were not on the 53-man roster at any point last year. Of those, 21 are new to the Redskins organization in 2014. A total of 24 of them were drafted by the Redskins.

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. I'll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Stat of the day

—DeSean Jackson had 25 plays with gains for 20 yards or more in the regular season with the Eagles last year plus one in the playoffs. On the drives where Jackson had those explosive plays the Eagles scored 17 touchdowns, kicked seven field goals, and missed two field goals.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 10:45; player availability and Jay Gruden news conference after practice (approx. 12:30).

—It’s been 246 days since the Redskins played a game; in six days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Home opener vs. Jaguars 13; Redskins @ Eagles 20; Thursday night Giants @ Redskins 25

In case you missed it

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.