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Need to Know: How much have the Redskins improved?

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Need to Know: How much have the Redskins improved?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 1, 12 days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 112 days ago. It will be 134 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 12; OTAs start 23; Redskins training camp starts 88

Hot topic

A look back at the most popular posts during the Redskins week that was from here and from the freshly redesigned CSNmidatlantic.com.

Details of Norman’s contract reveal some exit ramps for the Redskins—Norman, of course, dominated the news over the week leading up to the draft. This post detailed his contract. There is good and bad for both sides in the deal, meaning that it’s fair. It pays Norman a ton of money over two years and that’s good for him. But the Redskins have reasonably-priced ways out of the deal after the second year. I think he’ll play at least three years of the deal and maybe all five.

Need to Know: Norman deal will force tough choices for Redskins in 2017—The big cap hit in Norman’s contract comes in 2017 when it will be $20 million. Although the Redskins still a large amount of cap space left next year they still may be forced to make decisions on whether to re-sign the likes of Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Baker or to let them walk? Details are in the post.

Does the Norman deal mean it's the same old Redskins?—Stop me if you heard this before—the Redskins moved in on a high-priced free agent, sent Redskins One out to pick him up, and locked him in Redskins Park until he agreed to a deal. Sound familiar? Have things really changed with Scot McCloughan in charge?

Doctson is "ready to get to work" with Redskins—The Redskins’ first-round draft pick does not seem like the stereotypical diva wide receiver. He turned down some scholarship offers and walked on, transferred to TCU, and set most of the school’s major receiving records. If he is productive he will quickly become a fan favorite.

Should the Redskins be the NFC East favorites?—This was written before the draft but the question remains. Norman makes Washington better right away, no doubt. But what we don’t know is how much the draft class will contribute in 2016. If they get some key first down and red zone catches from Doctson, if Su’a Cravens generates some turnovers at important moments, if Matt Ioannidis can help shore up the rushing defense, and if Steven Daniels can fill some of the holes in special teams, the Redskins can get considerably better. They will have to be to repeat as division champs as they aren’t likely to be able to do it again with nine wins and they face a tougher schedule.

Stat of the day

The Redskins selected seven players in the draft. They have now picked seven or more players in six straight drafts, going to back to 2011. That is the longest such stretch since the draft went to its current seven-round format in 1994.

In case you missed it

 

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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!

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