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Need to Know: Only a handful of starters will be left from 2012 Redskins team

Need to Know: Only a handful of starters will be left from 2012 Redskins team

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 5, 19 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five thoughts on the Redskins with free agency a month away

—Although it wasn’t particularly surprising, it was noteworthy that we got the first words uttered by a Redskins official saying that Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris are likely to be gone in 2016. Actually, Griffin is certain to be gone and Allen predicted that he will get a chance to succeed elsewhere. Allen didn’t close the door on a Morris return but they aren’t going to offer him a contract before free agency starts and they will applaud if he goes elsewhere. The 2012 season was a long, long time ago.

—I don’t get the feeling that Scot McCloughan and Joe Barry are as hopped up to bring in a stud inside linebacker as some fans and media members are. I think they would be perfectly content to bring back Mason Foster, start him alongside Will Compton, possibly cut Perry and save his $4 million salary, and go with Martrell Spaight and perhaps a relatively cheap veteran. If the right guy is there early in the draft I think they would take him but it’s not on their “gotta have” list.

—If Riley does end up leaving there will be five players who started 10 or more games in 2012 who are under contract for this year—Pierre Garçon, Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Ryan Kerrigan, and DeAngelo Hall. Lichtensteiger is no sure bet to be on the team in 2016 so there could be just four starters left. In addition, Logan Paulsen, who started 10 games, is slated to be a free agent and may or may not be back.

—In a post on Kirk Cousins yesterday I look a bit at the lack of depth at wide receiver. Andre Roberts is sure to be cut and Ryan Grant played 425 snaps and he caught just 21 passes and dropped four. Rashad Ross is fast but he needs to learn how to play receiver. And let’s not forget that DeSean Jackson and Garçon both turn 30 this year. The situation could get ugly quickly. I get the need to bolster the defense but if there is a quality receiver on the board in any round, including the first, McCloughan will seriously consider taking him.

In my post here yesterday I did not list Duke Ihenacho when I was sketching out a possible safety depth chart for 2016. I didn’t include him for a few reasons, the primary one being his problems staying healthy. He’s been on the Redskins’ payroll for two years but he’s been on the field for just four games. He’s a restricted free agent and it’s not certain that they will offer him an RFA tender, which would be a one-year contract worth about $1.6 million. That’s probably more than they want to pay him. If they don’t tender him, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. On the positive side, he did compete for and win a starting safety job last year. So he does have a shot at returning and contributing.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 26 days ago. It will be about 219 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 19; NFL free agency starts 33; 2016 NFL draft 83

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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

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

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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