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Need to Know: Five Redskins who are on the hot seat tonight vs. the Bills

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who are on the hot seat tonight vs. the Bills

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, August 26, eight days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 players.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Bills at FedEx Field, 7:30, broadcast on CSN

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 229 days ago. It will be 17 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 23; Browns @ Redskins 37; Redskins @ Ravens 44

Five Redskins who are on the hot seat tonight

ILB Perry Riley—He hasn’t played particularly well and his snaps have been limited in the first two preseason games. Perhaps he didn’t play much because they know what he can do and wanted to get a look at Terence Garvin and others but he’s starting more and more to seem like a forgotten man. He’s running out of time to be remembered.

RB Keith Marshall—I think that the Redskins really, really want to keep him around. He can make it an easy decision for them by finding holes consistent and perhaps popping a long run. Or he can make it so his fate hangs on the outcome of a long debate among Scott McCloughan and the coaches on cutdown day by continuing to struggle running the football.

G Arie Kouandjio—The second-year player’s seat got considerably hotter with the acquisition of Bryan Stork. The former Patriot will fit in somewhere on the top couple of lines of the interior line depth chart (he can play guard, too) and that will push Kouandjio down a notch. Like Marshall, Kouandjio needs to give the coaches a reason to keep him other than the fact that he was a draft pick (4th round in 2015).

CB Quinton Dunbar—The second-year player probably isn’t on the bubble but he hasn’t entirely gone from impressing because he converted from wide receiver to cornerback to being an impressive cornerback. If they keep six cornerbacks one will be inactive most game days and Dunbar has a couple of more preseason games to show that he should be active.

DE Stephen Paea—The conventional wisdom when training camp started was that even though Paea was a disappointment last year, the free agent acquisition would get 2016 to make things right. But Paea hasn’t done much in camp or in the two preseason games and that could have him in danger. Financial reasons in the form of $3.75 million in dead cap if he is let go could keep him around but he still needs to show he’s worth his $3.3 million salary.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.