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Need to Know: Five backups who could start games for the Redskins in 2016

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Need to Know: Five backups who could start games for the Redskins in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 14, 44 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

Today at Redskins Park: Minicamp practice 11:30; Defensive assistant coaches available coming off of the field, approx. 1:30; Jay Gruden news conference (streamed live on CSNmidatlantic.com) approx. 2:00

—The Redskins last played a game 156 days ago. It will be 90 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 44; Preseason opener @ Falcons 58; Final roster cut 81

Five backups who could start games in 2016

In the NFL, every player on the roster is one or two plays away from becoming a starter. However, some are more likely to get a chance at starting than others. Here are five players who are down the depth chart now who have good chances to get some starts in 2017.

C Austin Reiter—I’m starting off with something of a long shot here. But I keep thinking about Jay Gruden lamenting the lack of a true center to replace Kory Lichtensteiger when he was injured. The only backup center who is not a converted guard is Reiter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reiter go in if Steiger has injury problems again.

RB Chris Thompson—Although the Redskins may bring in another running back between now and training camp, as of right now Thompson is the No. 2 back behind Matt Jones. And the smart money is on Jones being unable to go for 16 games and that would mean starts for Thompson. If they do get another back we can revisit this.

DE Ricky Jean Francois—I mentioned this a few days ago. I don’t think that it would take an injury for this to happen; he could flat out earn the job. And even if he’s not in on the first snap there will be some games where he plays more snaps than any other DE except perhaps Chris Baker.

DE Matt Ioannidis—The team had defensive line listed as its top draft need but due to the way the board fell they only took Ioannidis in the fifth round. I think they want him to play nose tackle in their base defense and as soon as he’s ready, which could be in September or maybe November, he could get his chance.

CB Quinton Dunbar—What are the chances of all of the top three cornerbacks staying healthy for 16 games? The Redskins hope they can stay healthier at the position this year than they did in 2015 but some dings here and there are inevitable. If some happen, Dunbar is set up to be the guy who steps in.

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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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