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Need to Know: Five Redskins with a lot at stake in 2016

Need to Know: Five Redskins with a lot at stake in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 19, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 161 days ago. It will be 85 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 39; Preseason opener @ Falcons 53; Final roster cut 76

Hot topics from the Redskins Week that was

All NFL players are under pressure to perform. But some have a lot at stake personally in 2016. Here are five Redskins who are under pressure this year both on and off the field.

QB Kirk Cousins—The Redskins’ defense and running game may improve but they are still a passing team in a passing league and a lot of games will come down to Cousins’ right arm. If he plays the season out under the franchise tag he will be trying to make his case for big bucks; if he signs he will be under pressure to live up to it.

RB Matt Jones—It doesn’t look like the Redskins have a backup chute here; the running game will live or die with Jones. He will need to add nearly a yard to the league-worst 3.4 per carry average he had last year and cut down significantly on his fumbles if he is going to get it done. This is probably his one shot; running backs rarely get more than two seasons to develop. If Jones can’t get it done in 2016 the team will search for another solution in 2017 and Jones could end up fighting for snaps.

WR DeSean Jackson—There is a lot going on here. The Redskins offense was at its best last year when he was in the lineup and functioning at 100 percent. Jackson needs to stay healthy and in the lineup and play well. He put a big target on his back by deciding to skip a good portion of offseason workouts. On a personal level he will turn 30 late in the season and he needs to have a good year if he is going to get another lucrative contract, whether it’s in Washington or elsewhere.

CB Bashaud Breeland—Earlier this week Breeland said, “my opinion is that I can be the next Darrell Green.” It’s not as though the guy needed to put any more pressure on himself. Playing opposite Josh Normal is likely to cause plenty of passes to be thrown his way. Plus he has one more year before he is eligible for a contract extension. Breeland could be set for some time to come if he plays well in 2016.

S DeAngelo Hall—The Redskins are cautiously optimistic about Hall’s ability to lock down a safety job but the emphasis has to be on caution. He’ll be 33 in November, he has missed 19 games due to injuries in the last two year, and he’s playing a new position. Hall doesn’t have a huge contract but he doesn’t come cheap either, with cap hits of just over $5 million in each of the next two years. The team will be able to show some degree of patience as he adjusts to playing safety but his rope will not be unlimited.

Is there anyone you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments.

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Redskins Playbook: Niles Paul forcing a fourth tight end roster spot?

Redskins Playbook: Niles Paul forcing a fourth tight end roster spot?

Redskins coaches appreciate Niles Paul. Not just for the immense physical skills, a 6-foot-1, 225 lb. college receiver turned NFL tight end and fullback. He works hard every day at practice, and demands the same from his teammates. 

Last season, Paul landed on the injured reserve after an injury in London during a Week 8 tie against the Bengals. Because of that, some speculation emerged that Paul could be the odd man out in the Redskins tight end group, behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis and fighting with 2017 draft pick Jeremy Sprinkle, not to mention veteran Derek Carrier. 

RELATED: COULD REDSKINS MAKE RUN AT NICK MANGOLD?

After two preseason games, it's clear Paul is ready to fight for that spot. Against Green Bay on Saturday night, Paul logged a touchdown catch and a fumble recovery on special teams, showing the versatility that makes him so valuable to Washington. 

For Paul, he's just happy to be back on the field. 

"I got my season cut in half last year. I just want to be back on the field by any means necessary. I've just been missing it. I've been missing football in my life," Paul said after the game (full video above).

Paul's acrobatic TD grab showed that he still has the explosiveness to help the offense, but his special teams play is what will keep him on the roster. It also helps that head coach Jay Gruden complimented Paul for an outstanding camp and work ethic. 

"His speed looks where it was before the injuries. I mean, I think he's had an outstanding training camp so far. He's done so many different things. And that's one of the toughest positions," Gruden said of Paul. 

The Redskins offense hasn't hit full cylinder yet, but Paul thinks the return of Jordan Reed will help. 

"We're missing a major piece and that's Jordan Reed," he said. "We got some fine tuning to do."

Considering Reed's injury history, and backup tight end Vernon Davis starting the season at 33, a healthy Paul is a luxury for the Redskins. He stands to make nearly $2.5 million this season, but he also brings versatility. Paul is happy to play fullback, a role that seems to be growing, as well as all over the field on special teams. 

Washington will absolutely keep Reed and Davis. With his play this preseason, Paul seems a sure thing too. And if the squad wants to keep their draft pick in Sprinkle, who has tremendous size and has shown promise, four tight ends on the 53-man roster looks like the future. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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With Spencer Long on the shelf, could Redskins make a run at Nick Mangold?

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USA Today Sports

With Spencer Long on the shelf, could Redskins make a run at Nick Mangold?

News broke late Monday night that Redskins' center Spencer Long underwent a minor knee scope and is expected to miss two weeks. That timetable spells good news for Washington, as that would bring Long back to the team before the first regular season game against the Eagles on September 10th. 

In the meantime, expect rookie Chase Roullier to take over at center for the Redskins. A 6th round draft pick, Bruce Allen and the Washington brass moved up to select Roullier, and the young player out of Wyoming had a strong training camp. 

RELATED: NILES PAUL FORCING HIS WAY TO A ROSTER SPOT?

"He’s done a great job, he really has. For a rookie to come in here and handle all the things he has to handle, it’s been very impressive," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Roullier in early August. 

Still, Jay Gruden has been very clear about the need for a backup center on the roster. Last season the team brought in veteran John Sullivan during the year to provide depth at the position after Kory Lichtensteiger went down with injury.  Sullivan ended up starting one game for Washington, and is now playing with the Rams. 

With Long on the mend, the only other center on the Redskins roster is Roullier. Ronald Patrick is listed with the more generic OL designation though he has played center too.

It seems likely the team will move quickly to add another center, and one name that will get suggested is Nick Mangold. An 11-year veteran that played his entire career with the Jets, Mangold has more experience than Long, Roullier and Patrick combined.

He's also played the position at a very high level. Twice named to the NFL's All Pro team, Mangold has made seven Pro Bowls, most recently in 2015.

It's not entirely clear why Mangold isn't on an NFL roster already. He worked out for the Ravens this offseason, though some reports suggested Mangold wanted more guaranteed money than was discussed. 

A quick look at his Twitter feed does not suggest a guy missing the NFL life. A big soccer fan, Mangold seems very dialed in to London's Tottenham Hotspur and the New York City Football Club. (Check his Twitter out here)

If the team truly believes Long should not miss any regular season action, Mangold is probably not a fit. At 33-years-old with an impressive resume, Mangold likely doesn't want to come back just to be a backup, and Gruden has repeatedly talked about Long's ability and potential in the middle of the line. Should Long suffer a setback, the equation could change. 

Other names are likely to pop up for tryouts, as the 'Skins must consider more interior line depth. Making a run at Mangold might be something fans want to do, though it might not make sense at this point.

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!