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Need to Know: Redskins' D-line depth chart is in flux

Need to Know: Redskins' D-line depth chart is in flux

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 28, 10 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

D-line transformation just beginning

In 2011 the Redskins drafted Jarvis Jenkins in the second round and soon after the lockout ended they signed Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield as free agents. Jenkins missed his rookie season with a torn ACL but since 2012 those three players have been mainstays on the defensive line.

Now Bowen and Cofield are gone, released in a move that saved the team some $9.6 million in salary cap space. Jenkins is a pending unrestricted free agent and his future with the team after free agency gets underway on March 10 is far from certain. The same goes for fellow free agent and 2011 draft pick (7th round) Chris Neild. He is a decent backup nose tackle when he’s on the field but he has missed two of the last three seasons with ACL injuries.

With at least two and possibly three linemen from last year gone, the process of building the line back up started on Thursday when the Redskins signed former Scot McCloughan draft pick Ricky Jean Francois. But obviously they will need more than him to replace Bowen, Cofield, and, if he leaves, Jenkins.

The four holdover defensive linemen the Redskins have under contract are Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, and Frank Kearse. Hatcher is likely to be around this year and Golston might be but neither will around for the long haul. They are temporary placeholders at best.

McCloughan has stated that he will build the Redskins through the draft. Prospects like USC end Leonard Williams and Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton are potential picks for the Redskins with their top draft pick. But immediate help after the first round may be hard to come by. There may be another free agent or two on the way.

It’s impossible to craft a depth chart now because there are too many moving parts. You could start the season tomorrow with Hatcher and Jean Francois at end, Baker at end with Golston and Kearse as backup. Robert Thomas, who was on the practice squad last year, could be the backup nose tackle.

Fortunately the season doesn't start tomorrow. You could get by with a line like that but the goal should be to improve. And the Redskins would be back into a hole again in 2016 with Golston and Hatcher likely gone. Look for more big guys to be added in free agency and the draft to strengthen it for 2015 and beyond.

Timeline

—It’s been 62 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 197 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 10; Redskins offseason workouts start 51; 2015 NFL Draft 61

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: The pace picks up as the Redskins return to Ashburn

Need to Know: The pace picks up as the Redskins return to Ashburn

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 16, 17 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 227 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 25 days.

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 3
—Redskins @ Rams (9/17) 32
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 39

The pace picks up at Redskins Park

The Redskins have returned from Richmond and they get to work in Ashburn today with a 1 p.m. practice. It has been nearly week since their first preseason game. Now they have three days to get ready to play the Packers on Saturday. After that, things keep moving quickly as the Redskins get ready to play the Eagles in the season opener on September 10.

—They will have a week of practice that is close to a regular-season week. They play the Bengals on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field so they will have a full seven day’s to get ready for so-called “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. I have the quotes around it because they still don’t game plan or scout the opponent much if at all. But the starters should play at least the first half.

—After that, it’s quick turnaround as they get a couple of days of practice before heading down to Tampa to play the Bucs in the fourth preseason game on Thursday night. The short turnaround isn’t much of a concern as it will be the front-line players participating in the Bengals game and the bottom half of the roster scrapping for the last four to six spots still up for grabs will be playing at Raymond James Stadium.  

—The coaches don’t get much of a breather after that. After the clock hits 0:00 in Tampa they will have about 40 hours to get the roster cut down to 53. Starting this year, there is no first cut prior to the fourth preseason game so they go from 89 (Trent Murphy going to injured reserve takes care of one roster reduction already) to 53. That means that 36 decisions must be made and 36 players must be informed that they are no longer part of the team.

—After 1 p.m. on Sunday, the Redskins can start signing members of their 10-player practice squad. While many of them are likely to come from the pool of players they just cut, not all of them will. The team then starts to prepare for the regular season.

—For the final item here, an answer to a fan’s question from Twitter.

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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What Su'a Cravens's surgery means for the Redskins' safety plans

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USA Today Sports

What Su'a Cravens's surgery means for the Redskins' safety plans

Su'a Cravens will miss the entire preseason for the Redskins, save for three snaps already logged against the Ravens.

In those three snaps, Cravens injured his knee, and on Tuesday, Adam Schefter reported the second-year safety will undergo surgery on the knee

The surgery will clean up swelling that occured in his knee following the Ravens game, per a source, and Cravens should be good to go for Washington in Week 1 of the regular season. 

For Redskins fans, there might be some reason to worry.

One argument might suggest that Cravens has never played safety in the NFL after being used his entire rookie season as a linebacker. Therefore, Cravens needs the practice reps as a safety. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

 

While certainly he could use the practice at safety, this concern seemse overblown. Cravens is a much more natural player in the secondary than he ever was at linebacker. In college, Cravens played his best at safety, and his versatility will allow him to do more from the safety spot.

Cravens has already dealt with a number of different injuries, and perhaps that might concern 'Skins fans. As a rookie, Cravens missed time with a concussion and then late in the year with an upper arm injury. He played in 11 of 16 games last year. None of the injuries seem like the lingering type, which is good news. 

With Cravens out the Redskins will turn to Deshazor Everett, a third year player out of Texas A&M. Primarily a special teams force, Everett got minimal playing time at safety in 2016. In his only real opportunity to play with the defense in a Week 14 win at Philadelphia, Everett grabbed a vitally important interception in the end zone. 

Everett is unknown, but has ability. He also has a big opportunity these next three games playing alongside D.J. Swearinger. 

Behind Everett, the Redskins best options are both working back from injuries. Rookie Montae Nicholson, a somewhat surprising fourth-round selection out of Michigan State, just returned to team drills during the last few practices in Richmond. Nicholson has size and track speed, but much remains to be seen if he can improve his cover and tackling ability. 

Don't forget about veteran DeAngelo Hall. He started the season on the PUP list, expectedly, after landing on the injured reserve in 2016. Hall hasn't played a full season since 2013, when Mike Shanahan was still the Redskins coach and RG3 the starting quarterback. A lot has changed since then. 

Watching from the sidelines in Richmond during training camp, Hall seemed more of a coach than a player working back from injury, though he was seen running on the drill field late in camp. It would be a major surprise if Hall played in the preseason.

The Redskins intend to go with Cravens against the Eagles. Everett will be the backup plan. Nicholson has much to prove, and Hall still seems far away from seeing the field as a player. 

MORE REDSKINS: With Murphy out, Redskins to rely more on injury-prone Galette

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