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Need to Know: Redskins’ Gruden looks for a second-year leap from Spencer Long

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Gruden looks for a second-year leap from Spencer Long

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 27, 34 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week 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.

Today’s question is from Twitter but I don’t have the tweet to embed as I normally do. I made a note of the question but forgot to paste the link or get the questioner’s name. But I thought it was a good question so I’m going to roll with it.

The questioner wanted to know what was up with Spencer Long last year. It seemed that right guard Chris Chester was ripe to be pushed to the bench. But Long was unable to do so despite Jay Gruden seemingly leaving the door open for him virtually the entire year.

Was Long still injured? His senior season at Nebraska ended in mid-October with a knee injury. It can take a full calendar year to get back up to full strength after such an injury and it’s possible that it still affected his play.

But Jay Gruden indicated this week that the issue wasn’t so much Long’s knee in and of itself but that he was unable to get into top shape because of it.

Here was Gruden’s assessment of the right guard spot when he was asked about it at the owners meetings in Phoenix earlier this week.
“Well, Chris Chester is still on the team and we expect Spencer Long to have an excellent offseason, come in in better shape. You you come from your rookie to your second year, that’s the biggest jump you have to make as a football player. It’s a big jump to get your feet wet . . . all the things that go into being a professional football player you learn as a rookie. Then in your second year you feel more comfortable coming in. We’re hoping that [tackle] Morgan [Moses] and Spencer alike make the transition into their second year and compete.”
So, clearly there are expectations for both of last year’s third-round picks. His knee being 100 percent will allow him to get into better shape. The natural progression that comes between a player’s first and second seasons should help even more.

But nothing is guaranteed for Long. As Gruden noted, Chester is still on the team. It had to be tempting for the Redskins to release the 32-year-old and pocket $4 million in salary cap savings.

But there is faith that can do the job; he’s played nearly every snap since joining the team in 2011. There is no faith yet in Long and until he earns the trust of Gruden, offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and GM Scot McCloughan he will remain on the bench.

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Timeline

—It’s been 89 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 170 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 24; 2015 NFL Draft 34; Redskins training camp starts 125

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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In case you missed it

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Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day

Will the Redskins go with a defensive player in the first round of the 2017 Draft?

Finlay: The Redskins haven't drafted a defensive player in the first round since 2011 when the franchise grabbed Ryan Kerrigan with the 16th pick. In fact, the team has only drafted five defensive players in the first round over the last 15 years. 

History suggests Washington will stay away from a defensive player, but sources in Ashburn have suggested otherwise. Assuming the talent is there when the 'Skins pick at No. 17, Scot McCloughan would like to bolster the team's defensive line specifically. 

Things will get complicated should Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook slide to 17. Rich Tandler certainly would like to see the Burgundy and Gold add a top-flight running back.

Tandler: Many fans believe that conducting a draft is like going into a grocery store with a list. Defensive lineman is at the top of the list so you go to aisle 12 and put a DL in the cart. Safety is next on the list so you push the cart over to that aisle and pick out one of those.

No, a draft is much more unpredictable. There might not be a defensive lineman who is close to worthy of the No. 17 pick when the Redskins are on the clock. Talk of taking the best available player is like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. But if you’re reaching for need in a draft, you’re losing that draft. Sure, if a player in a position of need is just a spot or two down from the best available you think about it. Still, staying true to your board is the way to build a team.

The other thing to consider here is that we haven’t gone through free agency yet. Needs will shift after that. Suppose the Redskins sign two starting-caliber D-linemen and lose both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson in free agency? Defensive line is no longer a five-alarm priority and receiver will be. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Twice in the last five seasons Pierre Garçon logged more than 1,000 yards receiving as a member of the Washington Redskins, including the 2016 season. He's caught 376 passes in Washington for 21 touchdowns over 74 games.

Outside of a foot injury that cost his six games in 2012, Garçon has been arguably the Redskins most durable wide receiver, and he's known to be a hard worker in the weight room and the practice field. 

Despite all that, Garçon doesn't know that he will be back with the Burgundy and Gold once free agency opens. In fact, that uncertainty led the 30-year-old wideout to post a simple question on his Instagram page.

#YallHiring?

A post shared by Pierre Garcon (@pierregarcon) on

The top of the Redskins offseason questions remains QB Kirk Cousins. Garçon and fellow wideout DeSean Jackson are headed for free agency, as is standout defensive lineman Chris Baker. Reports show that the team has made little to no contact with any of the players or their representatives, though many conversations could be planned for the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis later this month. 

Garçon's question seems simple, but the answer remains a mystery. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!