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Need to Know: RB Arian Foster says he’s ready to go—should the Redskins call?

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Need to Know: RB Arian Foster says he’s ready to go—should the Redskins call?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 23, 35 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 165 days ago. It will be 81 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 35; Preseason opener @ Falcons 49; Final roster cut 72

Should the Redskins go after Arian Foster?

The Redskins are still in need of a running back to back up Matt Jones and to take some of the load off of the second-year back. A good option may have just become available.

According to ESPN, Arian Foster, formerly of the Texans, has put out the word that he will be ready for training camp and that he is “hungry” to regain his previous form. According to the article three unnamed teams have expressed interest.

That previous form was pretty good. He four seasons with at least 1,200 yards rushing and three with 10 or more rushing touchdowns. Foster is also a good receiver out of the backfield with 249 career receptions and 14 receiving touchdowns.

The problem is, we haven’t see that form much lately. Foster has missed 23 games in the last three seasons. In 2013 he spent the last half of the season on injured reserve with a back injury. He was reasonably healthy in 2014, missing three games with hamstring and groin injuries. But the injury bug bit again last year as he missed three games early with a groin and then after struggling for four games he tore his Achilles and was out the rest of the season.

The Achilles injury happened in late October so when training camp starts he will have had about nine months of rehab. That’s a fairly aggressive schedule but it’s certainly possible that Foster could be ready, although it should be noted that all players heal at different rates.

If he is ready should the Redskins bring him in? There certainly is no reason not to conduct due diligence but there are plenty of questions hanging out there. As noted above, he struggled when he played last year, gaining 163 yards on 63 carries, a paltry average of 2.6 yards per carry. Was he still recovering from the groin injury? Or at age 29 was it just what tends to happen to running backs as they get older? In either case it’s a red flag for any team looking to sign him.

Another question is what kind of money Foster is looking for. In 2012 he signed a five-year, $43.5 million extension with the Texans. He collected on a good chunk of that money before they let him go in March. The Redskins likely would not want to pay a back with Foster’s recent injury history much more than the vet minimum, perhaps with some incentives. Sometimes players who are used to collecting big paychecks have a hard time lowering their salary expectations.

I’d be surprised if the Redskins get past the injury issues, the tepid performance last year, and the money to reach a deal with Foster by the start of training camp. But as the preseason goes on desperation on both sides could push them to a contract. I doubt it but you can’t rule it out.

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Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Defensive line

Starters: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Phil Taylor
Other roster locks: Terrell McClain, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier
On the bubble: Matt Ioannidis, A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu

How the defensive line compares:

To the 2016 Redskins: The addition of Allen is a boost but the losses of Chris Baker (free agent) and Ricky Jean Francois (released) can’t be overlooked. Second-year players Lanier and Ioannidis should improve and Hood will be a rotational player instead of a starter, a role better suited to his ability. Andi new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will get the most out of them. The key to improvement will be McClain and McGee. If the two free agents live up to their contracts the line should be better than it was last year. If not, they will struggle again. Slightly better

To the rest of the NFL: But let’s not mistake an improved Redskins D-line for one of the better units in the league. While it’s tough to compare a 3-4 line to a 4-3 front, it still would be quite a leap for the Redskins to move from the bottom of the pack to the lower middle. Tomsula inherited a multi-year rebuild; one draft pick and a couple of free agents are not going to transform the line into a force. Bottom third

RELATED: 2017 OUTLOOK: WIDE RECEIVER

2017 outlook

Biggest upside: Since I used his name in conjunction with that of Dave Butz above, that has to be Allen. He has both the physical ability and the mental makeup to be a very, very good one.

Most to prove: Nearly every player on the line has something to prove but only Phil Taylor has been out of football for the last two years. He has worked his way up from a brief retirement to a futures contract with the Redskins to a roster long shot to a probable starter. But he still only has 21 preseason snaps under his belt and he has a long way to go before he reestablishes himself as a legitimate NFL player.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS-PACKERS MUST-SEE PHOTOS

Rookie watch: The only rookie with a realistic shot at making the roster is Allen. His Nick Saban-Alabama background has him well prepared to handle the scrutiny that comes with being a top draft pick and the expectations that come with playing in a place like Washington.

Bottom line: The best-case scenario here is that Taylor anchors the line in the middle, Allen’s learning curve is short, Lanier contributes six sacks in a nickel role, and the rest of the players make up a good rotation. Anything more would be a big bonus. Anything less would be back to being one of the worst defenses against the run.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Phil Taylor:

Well, I’ll tell you, I was in Cincinnati for three years when he was at Cleveland and I know what a force he can be at nose. He was tough to deal with, he really was. We had him for a workout, and I didn’t even know he was on the streets. His knee looked better. He was in good shape. He had a whole offseason and did some good things. I think his body is finally back to where he feels really good. He’s moving around, he’s active, he’s strong, so I like where he is right now. He’s just got to continue to maintain it.

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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Long's injury gives Redskins' backup center Roullier an opportunity

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Associated Press

Long's injury gives Redskins' backup center Roullier an opportunity

Let’s be clear here.

The Redskins’ loss of center Spencer Long for two weeks due to a knee injury is not a good development.

Long is going into his second year as the starter and he still has a lot to learn. Although he should be back for the games that count, he could have benefitted from the 30 or so snaps he would have taken against the Bengals in the team’s third preseason game this Sunday.

Also, the Redskins’ offensive line has struggled this preseason, especially when blocking for the run.

Another half with the full starting unit playing together would have helped them work on those problems. The third preseason game is supposed to be a dress rehearsal and it’s tough to have one of those if you don’t have all your lead actors.

RELATED: COULD REDSKINS PURSUE RETIRED JETS' CENTER?

However, in the NFL one’s player’s bad fortune can be an opportunity for another. Chase Roullier was a sixth-round pick of the Redskins. With Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan departed to Rams, Roullier became the backup center by default. While many expected the Redskins to make a move for a veteran backup center, they have kept Roullier running with the second-team offense through OTAs, minicamp, training camp, and the first two preseason games.

He was a bit shaky against the Ravens in the first preseason game but he was solid against the Packers on Saturday. It should be noted that Roullier will be facing the Bengals’ defensive starters on Saturday, not backups and players whose names will soon appear on the waiver wire as he was in the first two games.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS-PACKERS MUST-SEE PHOTOS

The competition that Roullier will face, however, is one of the upsides here. If the Redskins need their backup center during the season, their opponent is not going to pull its starter and line up a reserve player against him. He will be facing starters. The Redskins organization should have a pretty good idea of what they have in Roullier after a half against the Bengals’ front-line players.

Again, it would be better if Long was there for the line to work on its game. But the Redskins will have a chance to make the best of a bad situation by finding out if they are set at backup center or if they will need to pull the trigger on finding a veteran option.

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.