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Need to Know: Are the safeties better? Five observations on the Redskins' roster

Need to Know: Are the safeties better? Five observations on the Redskins' roster

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, September 7, six days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Observations on the Redskins’ roster

1. The safeties are different from last year but are they better? A lot depends on how Dashon Goldson plays. He may not have been better in Tampa Bay last year than Ryan Clark was in Washington. Preseason games are a small sample size but he did not excel during the three that he played in. I think Duke Ihenacho is an upgrade over Brandon Meriweather but not by leaps and bounds. We will see how it turns out.

2. As of this writing, the Redskins are going with just Jordan Reed and Derek Carrier at tight end. Relying on the often-injured Reed and Carrier, who has only been with the team for a few weeks, is a dicey strategy at best. Having a situation where Carrier is one hamstring pull away from being your only tight end is dangerous. Although Jay Gruden did not express any urgency towards getting one, it seems likely that one will be added before serious preparation for the Dolphins commences on Wednesday.

3. The Redskins lost special teams stalwarts Adam Hayward, Niles Paul, Silas Redd, and Logan Paulsen to injuries. There are no obvious replacements for them on the roster. Rookie safety Kyshoen Jarrett can become a good teams player and they kept undrafted rookie Deshazor Everett because of his play in the kicking game. But there are still some major holes that need to be filled and no apparent candidates for them. Perhaps players will step up but even if they do the Redskins could still struggle to improve their special teams from the ranks of the worst in the NFL.

4. I don’t understand why they kept seven defensive linemen. To be sure, it is the number they have usually carried since switching to the 3-4 defense but I thought a new GM and a new defensive coordinator might bring some out-of-the-box thinking here. There are only three spots on the field to cover and Preston Smith, Trent Murphy, and even Ryan Kerrigan can fill in at end in a pinch. Looking back up at the special teams problems, linemen are of limited value there. I like Frank Kearse and Kedric Golston as players but one of those spots should have gone to a more versatile player. It's one of those "that's the way we've always done it" decisions.

5. It’s pretty clear that at least one defensive back should not get too settled in. There are 10 of them on the roster and when Bashaud Breeland returns from suspension a week from today one of them will have to be cut. Even after that, another one could go if they think they want another linebacker for special teams.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day

—It’s been 253 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 6 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 17

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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back