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Need to Know: Is Tevin Mitchel a lock for the Redskins' 53?

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Need to Know: Is Tevin Mitchel a lock for the Redskins' 53?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 19, 41 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

State of the Redskins

Here are a few more thoughts on the state of the Redskins as they head into their summer break (here’s what I had yesterday):

—It may be premature to call Tevin Mitchel a lock to make the roster but I’m betting he is in. The sixth-round pick made a few nice plays in practices open to the media including an interception of a Colt McCoy pass on Wednesday. They have been working him in the slot but he could probably play outside if necessary, or at least develop into that job. Jay Gruden has been highly complimentary of his play. I don’t see Mitchel making a big impact this year but if he shows that he can help on special teams it’s hard to see him not being on the 53.

—When we think of Redskins coming into their contract years it’s usually about Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, or Alfred Morris. But Keenan Robinson is an important part of the defense and he also will be a free agent in 2016. He has looked just fine in the short and helmets portion of preparation. During minicamp he got angry with Tom Compton over what he perceived to be holding and he and Darrel Young had some sharp words for an unknown reason. He’s ready.

—I’ll have posts on both Bill Callahan and Matt Cavanaugh in the coming days. They were both entertaining during their media sessions on Wednesday. Cavanaugh talked about the difference between dealing with a QB room with all experienced starters like he has now and one with a quarterback who has never taken a snap and is anxious to get his turn. Callahan appreciates history as one of the first things he did after taking the job here was to put a picture of the Hogs up in his office at Redskins Park. These are two impressive additions to the coaching staff.

—Pierre Garçon is a very solid professional. He doesn’t get written about much this time of year because he just goes about his business preparing for the coming season. When he makes a tough catch, reporters don’t always make a not of it because it’s what we’ve come to expect. He is the perfect role model for younger receivers, or young players at any position, for that matter.

—I think some fans should tamp down expectations for Preston Smith in terms of having an immediate impact. Many were disappointed when Trent Murphy was just OK last year and I see higher expectations for Smith than I saw for him. He’ll be fine, he’ll make some plays and he’ll make some mistakes. Don’t look for him to dominate right off the bat.

Timeline

—It’s been 173 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 86 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 41; Preseason opener @ Browns 55; final cuts 79

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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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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