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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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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

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

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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