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Need to Know: 5 thoughts on the Redskins after first week of OTAs

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Need to Know: 5 thoughts on the Redskins after first week of OTAs

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 1, 16 days before the start of minicamp.

Nickel coverage

Five thoughts on the Redskins after their first week of OTAs.

—It’s very early but it seems like Keenan Robinson has the inside track on the inside linebacker spot vacated by London Fletcher. To be sure, in shorts and helmets he’s going to look better than Akeem Jordan and Darryl Sharpton because he knows the defense. And he still has a lot to learn. But Jay Gruden saying that “we have high hopes for Keenan” is telling. He’s the guy they would like to see win the job and it’s likely that he’ll have to fall flat on his face to lose it.

—You certainly get the feeling that football wasn’t much fun for Robert Griffin III last year and he’d like to get back to enjoying the game. “Football’s a fun game to play. A lot of you guys don’t see the hard work that goes into it, how late we’re here, how early were here,” said Griffin. “At the end of the day it’s just like you’re a little kid again, out there playing football and I want it to be that kind of atmosphere and when guys are doing their job, we’ll celebrate.”

—I have been dismissive of Tanard Jackson’s chances of making the team. With just 12 games on his ledger since the start of the 2010 season the odds are still against him. But he has impressed during the time since his suspended ended and he has a legitimate shot. ““He doesn’t look like he’s been away for two years,” said Jay Gruden. Jackson will have to play well enough to knock Bacarri Rambo off of the roster since the team is unlikely to keep more than four safeties.

Jordan Reed was second on the team in both receptions and receiving yards last year despite missing seven games with injuries, including the last six with a concussion. Despite the additions for DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, don’t be surprised if Reed is again the second leading receiver on the team if he is able to play all or most of 16 games. He will be RG3’s security blanket. “If people want to crowd DeSean or crowd Pierre, he’s a guy that is very much needed in the passing game, so we just got to keep him healthy and get him going,” said Gruden.

—It’s not sounding good for Leonard Hankerson. Gruden said that he hopes to get the fourth-year receiver on the field “sometime in training camp”. That sounds a lot like he’ll be starting camp on the PUP list so he will fall even further behind in learning the offense. It’s hard to see him being left off of the 53-man roster but you can’t rule it out.

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Timeline

—It’s been 154 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 98 days until they play the Texans in their season opener.

Days until: Minicamp starts 16; Training camp 53; Redskins @ Eagles 112

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against 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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