Quick Links

Need to Know: Are there Redskins roster spots for Toler, Sudfeld?

sudfeld-passing-vs-falcons.jpg

Need to Know: Are there Redskins roster spots for Toler, Sudfeld?

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 14, five days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Walkthrough 10:35; Jay Gruden news conference 2:45; Practice 3 p.m.; player availability after both sessions

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 217 days ago. It will be 29 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Final roster cut 20; Cowboys @ Redskins 35; Browns @ Redskins 49

The Redskins week that was

With the Redskins on the verge of wrapping up training camp here’s are some of my impressions of what has taken place over the last two and a half weeks here in Richmond.

—Preston Smith left practice early last Tuesday with a slight shoulder injury. Plenty of players who are locked on to the roster would have used the shoulder as an excuse to sit out preseason game No. 1. But Smith did some rehab to get his shoulder ready and played 18 snaps on Thursday. He even came in for a while in the second quarter long after the other starters had departed. Smith said that he wanted to get some “extra reps”. You have to like the second-year players mindset.

—Greg Toler recorded an interception today and made a few other plays. He is making things very difficult on the coaches. To keep him they will either have to cut Quinton Dunbar or Dashaun Phillips or go with six corners. The latter is hard to justify when you already have two safeties, Hall and Blackmon, who played corner their entire careers until this year.

—Last week Matt Jones said that he worked a lot on lowering his pad level over the offseason. He has not done it much during training camp; Jones still runs upright. But last year he was admonished for lowering his pads in practice. It was a little too rough and dangerous for a limited-contact practice.  He only got two carries in Atlanta so it’s hard to tell if he really has changed his style. Green said that they want to “get him going” next week against the Jets so maybe we’ll get a chance to see.

—Did Nate Sudfeld lock up a spot on the 53-man roster against the Falcons? There has been plenty of speculation that the Redskins will go with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and hope that they can keep Sudfeld on the practice squad. But for a stretch in the third and fourth quarters the rookie looked better than he has at any point in training camp. You could picture him getting the team through a bad spot if disaster struck at the quarterback position during the season. Even considering that the opposition was the Falcons’ third teamers that was a respectable performance.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it 

Quick Links

Need to Know: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

Need to Know: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 23, 21 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 142 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 110 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 21
—Training camp starts (7/27) 65
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 79

Who will surprise in 2017?

As OTAs start today, all 90 players on the roster have something to work for. But few dozen of them don’t have to work for a job. These are players who either because of their contracts or draft status or importance to the team who are locks to make the 53-man roster. Here are the 2017 roster locks.

Offense (18)

Backs: QB’s Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, and Nate Sudfeld; RB’s Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, and Samaje Perine.

I’ve had Sudfeld on the bubble ever since the Redskins drafted him but he’s past the point where they are going to give up on him and risk putting him on the practice squad. A year ago, Kelley was on the outside of the bubble and now he is a mortal lock.

WR/TE: WR’s Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder; TEs Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

Receivers Maurice Harris and Robert Davis are close to being locks but there is a lot of competition going on in the bottom of the depth chart. Jeremy Sprinkle is likely to make it as a tight end but he may have to beat out special teams stalwart Niles Paul.

O-line: OT’s Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, G’s Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio; C Spencer Long

You can argue about Lauvao but the fact that the team did not draft or sign serious competition for him tells me he is safe. Someone who can back up a center is a lock to make the roster. That could be sixth-round pick Chase Roullier or a veteran plucked off waivers.

Defense (18)

D-line: Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee, Jonathan Allen, Anthony Lanier, Ziggy Hood

Lanier will still be a project but after keeping him last year the Redskins will hang on to him again to see if he can develop into a pass-rushing threat. Matt Ioannidis could be the sixth defensive lineman but he could get beaten out.

Linebackers: OLB’s Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Ryan Anderson; ILB’s Will Compton, Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Trent Murphy will be suspended for the first four games so he won’t be on the initial 53. Martrell Spaight is close to being a lock but competition will be fierce for that last inside linebacker spot.

Backs: CB’s Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar; Safeties Su’a Cravens, D.J. Swearinger

Five or possibly six positions are up for grabs here. Third-round pick Fabian Moreau is a lock to be with the organization but he could be on the PUP list.  

Specialists (3): LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way, K Dustin Hopkins

It would be very surprising if they brought in competition for Hopkins.

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.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

In 2016, Chris Thompson simply needed to prove to Jay Gruden that he could handle 16 NFL games.

Now, looking ahead to 2017, the fifth-year running back hopes to show his head coach he can shoulder 16 NFL games and a larger workload.

"I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year," Thompson said Monday at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation. "[Gruden] knows now that I'm healthy and I can stay healthy, which I think that was one of his biggest concerns. So now he sees that I can handle the load, I think that I'll get a lot more opportunities this year."

Last season was by far the best in the 26-year-old's career. He played a full slate of games after playing in just 19 over his first three seasons combined, and he set career highs in rushing attempts (68), yards (356), receptions (49), receiving yards (349) and total touchdowns (5).

MORE REDSKINS: TEAM IS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE WITH PLANS FOR NEW STADIUM

He also held up well in pass protection, a key duty for him as the team's third-down running back. And it's all of those qualities — being able to contribute on handoffs and with catches while also providing help in keeping Kirk Cousins upright — that make him an excellent fit for a popular NFL duty.

The most excellent in that duty, actually, if you ask Gruden. 

"I think Chris Thompson's role is big," he said. "When you're talking about third downs, that's the most important down in football. There's nobody better as a third-down back in my opinion than Chris. He's got a huge role on this football team." 

Gruden went on to indicate that an increase in Thompson's responsibilities is likely coming, though No. 25 will still do the majority of his work when the offense needs him most.

"Whether he does some more stuff on first- and second-down will be determined," he said. "I'm sure he will. But he's so valuable on third-down that I gotta keep him in that role for now."

A 2013 fifth-round pick who came into the league with a history of injuries, Thompson has now fully gained the trust of his coaches and teammates. The 5-foot-8 running back may be small in stature, but the Redskins know he's not small in importance.  

RELATED: RANKING THE TOP ROOKIE QBS FOR FANTASY FOOTBALL