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Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up in 2015

Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up in 2015

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 27, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

Here are five players who need to have a strong 2015 season if the Redskins are going to be successful.

QB Robert Griffin III—How good Griffin needs to be next year depends on how well the rest of the team’s plan comes together. If the defense improves to the point where it is at least average and the running game is frequently used and effective, Griffin will have the luxury of being to make incremental progress. If they give up 27 points per game and average 4.2 yards per carry like they did last year, Griffin will have to be much better for the Redskins to succeed, perhaps an unrealistic expectation.

KR Jamison Crowder—Even if Griffin and the rushing attack perform well the offense will still need some help. I don’t envision much of a role for Crowder on offense but it will be a surprise if he isn’t returning both punts and kickoffs in Week 1. It’s an area where a rookie can make an instant impact. Crowder will need to get a good return to set up the Redskins offense in good field positions once every other game or so. A short field makes both a QB and rushing game that much more effective.

FS Dashon Goldson—He had two down years with the Bucs, no question about it. But why? Bad scheme fit? A player on the wrong side of 30 who is wearing down after eight years of playing a very physical position? Regardless of the reason, the Redskins need him to be better than he was in Tampa Bay. They are paying him $4 million and the options behind him are very unproven.

OLB Trent Murphy/Preston Smith—We know that Ryan Kerrigan will get it done on the left side and post a dozen sacks or so. Murphy, in his second year, and second-round pick Smith will need to team up and produce something close to that on the right. Pass defense starts with pass rush and even if the safety position is a bit shaky solid seasons from Smith and Murphy can compensate for the weakness.

OT Brandon Scherff—He doesn’t need to make the Pro Bowl or anything but he needs to be an upgrade over what the Redskins have been rolling out at right tackle for the past decade or so. Scherff won’t necessarily catch on right away and he will make some mistakes. But he will need to learn from the quickly and become an asset by the time midseason rolls around.

Timeline

—It’s been 181 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 78 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 33; Preseason opener @ Browns 47; final cuts 70

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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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.