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Need to Know: Is Washington DT Shelton a good fit for the Redskins at No. 5?

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Need to Know: Is Washington DT Shelton a good fit for the Redskins at No. 5?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 26, 44 days before NFL free agency starts for the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

This morning’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

Allstair is referring to Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton, who most experts saw as the most impressive player at any position during the week of the Senior Bowl. He’s not just a nose tackle, although at 6-2, 342 he can plug the middle in the 3-4 just fine. Shelton could play tackle if the Redskins line up in a 4-3 as they will a significant percentage of the time in Joe Barry’s hybrid scheme.

The versatility is important because a player has to be a three-down player to justify being the fifth overall pick. He has moved up to No. 7 overall in the prospect rankings on CBSSports.com and is likely to have a similar ranking when other sites are updated with their post-Senior Bowl rankings. That’s certainly close enough to the Redskins’ top pick in the five hole to raise the possibility that he will be the guy.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that Scot McCloughan doesn’t look at the CBS website or listen to Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock. I’ve already used this quote from McCloughan a few times here but it bears repeating. “I think game tape is the DNA,” he said at his introductory press conference.

He’s not going to be very impressed by what Shelton may have done at the Senior Bowl. The player will not rise or fall on McCloughan’s draft board during the combine. Most of Shelton’s resume is set in stone in McCloughan’s eyes.

“I always go back to the tape. I have to,” he said. “That’s the way I was taught. You’re going to see all of a sudden – Georgia is playing Alabama, it’s fourth quarter, it’s fourth and three, who wins on that line of scrimmage? That guard come off and get the play?”

Substitute Washington and Washington State for Georgia and Alabama and the nose tackle for “that guard” and you can see what McCloughan is looking for.

There also will be background checks and talks with former teammates and strength coaches and others who will be able to vouch for his character and work ethic. And McCloughan likely talked to him in Mobile and will one or two more times before draft day.

There also will be conversations and tape-watching sessions with Joe Barry and the new defensive line coach to make sure that Shelton will be a good fit for what they have in mind defensively. Then Shelton will be compared to other candidates for the fifth pick to see how he stacks up.

So there is a long way to go here. Right now Shelton looks like a player that the Redskins could use and he seems to be in the mix for the No. 5 pick. Should they trade back a few spots to a position later in the top 10, he would seem to be even a more attractive possibility. But we don’t know what is going on in McCloughan’s head and we probably won’t until they turn in the card on April 30.

Timeline

—It’s been 29 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 230 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 24; NFL free agency starts 43; 2015 NFL Draft 94

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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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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