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Need to Know: Five under the radar Redskins to watch

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Need to Know: Five under the radar Redskins to watch

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 10, 48 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 152 days ago. It will be 94 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 48; Preseason opener @ Falcons 62; Final roster cut to 53, 85

Five players you shouldn’t sleep on

I’m posting about the depth chart and as minicamp approaches it appears that the roster is taking shape. But there are always some surprises, players like Ty Nsekhe and Quinton Dunbar, who come out of nowhere to get a spot on the 53-man roster and contribute. Here are some players to keep an eye on.

OT Takoby Cofield—The first-year player who spent all of last year on the practice squad likely would have to get past Nsekhe to get a role. But he clearly benefitted from being at practice and meetings all of last year and he could be ready to step in if there is an opportunity.

TE Marcel Jensen—They poached the 6-6, 270-pound Jensen off of the Bills’ practice squad last year and kept him on the 53-man roster the last few weeks of last year just to get a look at him this offseason. His position is somewhat crowded but he has the size and athletic ability to step in and contribute should there be an injury.

NT Jarrell Powe—Unlike some of the others on this list, Powe plays a position of need for the Redskins. He was released in the final cut last year and was out of football. But the Redskins need a nose tackle and at 330 pounds, Powe could get a legitimate shot.

CB Dashaun Phillips—He played in the last six games of the season, mostly on special teams. Phillips will have a tough time getting past Dunbar to grab a roster spot but the two have been competing hard in the OTAs open to the media.

CB Lloyd Carrington—This is the only true rookie on this list. He seems to be a Scot McCloughan favorite and since the GM has final say on the roster that’s a good status to have. Carrington could follow Dunbar’s path to the roster this year, starting the season on the practice squad and taking advantage of an opportunity that comes up during the season.

Stat of the day

Kirk Cousins had a tendency to get off to a good start in games. In the first quarter he completed 94 of 123 passes (76.4%) for 1087 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. His 119.5 first-quarter passer rating was the second-best among quarterbacks who threw at least 100 first-quarter passes (Drew Brees, 122.5)

In case you missed it 

 

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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle 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.