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Need to Know: A lot is riding on “developing” right side of Redskins O-line

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Need to Know: A lot is riding on “developing” right side of Redskins O-line

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, August 3, 10 days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns.

If you need to catch up on what's happening in Richmond, scroll to the bottom for a list of our posts from the last 24 hours. 

A lot is riding on “developing” right side of offensive line

RICHMOND—The Redskins have made no secret of the fact that they intend to run the ball far more often than they did in 2014. But in order to do that they will need for the revamped right side of the offensive line to be effective, if not stellar. And, according to Jay Gruden, that’s not necessarily a given.

"That’s just where they are—they’re developing,” the Redskins head coach said when asked about the progress of second-year right guard Spencer Long and rookie right tackle Brandon Scherff. “Spencer’s got a little bit of a leg-up because he had all of last year. I mentioned it before, Spencer missed a lot of his senior year, so he didn’t get as many reps and he was still developing.”

Long missed a good chunk of his senior year at Nebraska with a knee injury and he played just 16 offensive snaps. He has the benefit of having a full season of being on an NFL roster. That helps, but watching film, attending meetings, and working the scout team at practice doesn’t fully prepare a player to step in and be a starter.

At least he has more experience than Scherff.

“And Brandon, he’s a rookie, you know?” said Gruden. “He’s got a lot to pick up in a short amount of time. Week 1 we have [Dolphins defensive end] Cameron Wake coming right at him, so he’s got to pick it up quickly. He’s played right tackle and right guard in training camp and he’s doing a wonderful job so far. A long way to go, a lot to learn, he’s going to learn from the best, one of the best. Ryan Kerrigan is showing him the ropes a little bit and we’re going to use that knowledge and that experience to his advantage, that’s for sure."

Wake had 11.5 sacks last year and has averaged over 10 sacks per season during his six-year NFL career.

In practice, the two have been doing just fine, although they just donned their pads on Saturday. We will be a better indication of where they are next week when the Houston Texans come to town and the line will be facing the likes of JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney (if he is off of the PUP list by then) and Vince Wilfork.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins walkthrough, 10:35 a.m.; Jay Gruden news conference approx. 2:45; Redskins practice, 3 p.m.

—It’s been 218 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 41 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 10; final cuts 33; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 52

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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

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A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”