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Need to Know: How much will Jones line up with Redskins' first team?

Need to Know: How much will Jones line up with Redskins' first team?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 10, 20 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

We’re a shade less than three weeks away from the start of training camp and I’m starting to review my “what to look for” notes. Here are five of them on the offense side of the ball, I’ll look at some on defense in the next few days.

Will the walking wounded be in action? Trent Williams (ankle), Jordan Reed (knee), and Morgan Moses (foot) missed most or all of OTAs and minicamp with injuries. Although we got the usual happy talk that they should be fine for camp, I don’t believe it until I see them lining up in pads for 11 on 11 work. Missing Williams, of course, would be a major problem. They have kind of gotten used to playing without Reed given his injury problems and Moses is slated for a backup role.

Does Robert Griffin III continue the progress he displayed in the spring? He was not razor sharp in what we saw but it looked like most of what was wrong was fairly easily correctable. However, the eye can be deceiving when they are playing in shorts and helmets. The speed and intensity pick up when the pads go on and we’ll see if Griffin continues to look good.

Who wins the backup quarterback battle? From what we saw in OTAs and minicamp Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins were fairly even with Cousins perhaps holding a slight edge. They also seemed to split the reps with the second team. But the media wasn’t there for all of the OTAs and it will be good to get a day-to-day picture of how they are performing in pads.

How much does Matt Jones line up with first offense? The third-round pick was in there with the first team early and often this spring. That could have been in part because Alfred Morris doesn’t need that much work and Jay Gruden repeatedly said that Morris was still the primary running back. But I want to see it and if Jones gets a lot of time with the first team in practice I have to think he’ll get a lot of snaps when the games count.

How is the revamped right side of the line doing? Spencer Long has scant NFL experience and Brandon Scherff has none. The will be counted on to upgrade the pass protection on that side and handle run blocking on a team that is tends to be right handed in the running game (144 rushes to right, 120 to the left). They looked fine in shorts but, again, pads will reveal much, much more about their progress.

Timeline

—It’s been 194 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 65 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 20; Preseason opener @ Browns 34; final cuts 57

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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.

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