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Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Need to Know: Redskins invest heavily in weapons for Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 20, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 192 days ago. It will be 54 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 22; Final roster cut 45; Cowboys @ Redskins 60

A week before reporting, some thoughts on the Redskins

The Redskins report to Richmond a week from today. Here are some thoughts on training camp and on the season.

—Everyone wants to know how much Josh Doctson will play this year and what his role will be. The person who ultimately answer that question is Doctson. It all depends on how quickly he picks up the scheme and running routes (the TCU route tree was not exactly challenging) and how well he does in the early season opportunities he will get. He could end up playing anywhere from 400 to 600 snaps (about 40% to 60%).

—The Redskins may not have broken the bank on Kirk Cousins but they have invested in weapons for him to target. They are fifth in the NFL in cap dollars devoted to wide receivers and 11th in tight end spending. They would be higher at tight end but Jordan Reed’s contract extension has him costing just $3.4 million against the cap this year, a number that jumps to $5.8 million next year and $10.3 million in 2018. It also should be noted that they invested a first-round pick in Doctson, a major expenditure of resources that doesn't hit the salary cap very hard. Only two other teams, the Cowboys and Titans, are in the top 11 in spending in both receivers and tight ends. Cousins will have no reason to complain about a lack of support.

—A year ago there was talk that Bashaud Breeland would be better as a safety than as a cornerback. Some in the organization speculated that he was a more natural fit there. Now he is being viewed as a quality player at the much more important cornerback spot. Although I think the fans and media here overrate him sometimes he is pretty good and, perhaps more importantly, he puts in the work it takes to get better. Along with Morgan Moses he is going to be a member of the 2014 draft class the Redskins likely will want to extend next year.

—If the Redskins were going to sign a veteran running back before training camp I would think they would have done it by now. My understanding is that backs like Pierre Thomas are going to be looking for more money if they are going to have to go through training camp. I guess it’s OK to try to save some cap dollars but an injury would be disastrous. It could bring up a scenario like we saw in 2010 when Clinton Portis got injured leaving Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams to handle the carries. This seems to be an unnecessary roll of the dice but we’ll see if it’s a gamble they win.

—Some were wondering if the Redskins tried out Jimmy Clausen with the idea of bringing him in as a fourth quarterback for training camp. I very much doubt it. The need for four quarterbacks in training camp has pretty much gone away with the abolition of two full practices a day. The throws in the daily walkthough are more like soft tosses so that saves the arms for the full practice. If you have four quarterbacks who need to get work in the one full practice none of them are going to get enough reps. So three arms is plenty. I don’t see the Redskins consider signing Clausen unless injuries force them to seek another QB.

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Scot McCloughan jokes about not being much help to wife's fantasy league draft

Scot McCloughan jokes about not being much help to wife's fantasy league draft

Scot McCloughan helped the Redskins with their draft picks as the General Manager of the team for almost two years. He's considered to be one of the best in the league at evaluating talent.

Prior to the Redskins, he was the GM of the San Francisco 49ers and a senior personnel executive for the Seattle Seahawks. He's helped draft the likes of Russell Wilson, Frank Gore, Golden Tate, Richard Sherman and Jamison Crowder.

RELATED: REDSKINS OUSTED GM TAKES TO TWITTER

But one draft McCloughan doesn't expect to be good at is his wife's fantasy league draft.

"My wife is [in a league] this year and I'm going to try to help her with the draft but I'll probably screw it up, I'm sure. But I'm going to try," McCloughan told ESPN's Adam Schefter during his 'Know Them From Adam' podcast. 

Schefter warned McCloughan that being apart of a fantasy league changes the way you watch the game, how you follow the game and how you root for a team.

Anyone who's been apart of one can understand the stress it brings on game days.

"I can believe it because some teams you've played against for a long time and never really liked them because they're better than you or whatever. Now you're pulling for one guy so you're pulling for them to win. I can only imagine. It will be very interesting."

McCloughan said he didn't even have a successful track record with helping his son pick college games. 

"When I was an area scout I'd help my son out with picking college games each week, not for betting but just like little club, and I was awful on it. I'd do a school call that week and I'd know exactly the team. They're playing well or not playing well or who's playing or not playing, and I was awful at it. You stick yourself, I'm done." 

Luckily for McCloughan, who is running his own scouting service after being fired by the Redskins in March, is really good at drafting when it matters.

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Redskins 2017 position outlook: Offensive line

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Offensive 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.

Offensive line

Starters: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses
Other roster locks: Ty Nsekhe, Chase Roullier
On the bubble: Vinston Painter, Arie Kouandjio, Kyle Kalis,

How the offensive line compares:

To the 2016 Redskins: Over the course of 16 games they should be better because Williams is unlikely to get his with another four-game suspension. He may miss a game or two with an injury as he did in 2014 and 2015 but they can manage that. With all five starters returning, they may be only marginally better on a game-to-game basis. Lauvao was hampered by injuries last year and he looks healthier. Long will be going into his second season at center so he could learn more and improve. Still, the improvements will be marginal. They were a top 5-10 unit last year and they should be this year. Marginally better

To the rest of the NFL: As noted, it’s a top 10 unit easily and you could make the case that it’s in the top five. Yes, even though the Redskins were 21st in the league in rushing last year. The thing is, they were eighth in the league with 4.5 yards per rushing attempt. When they ran the ball, they ran it well. And their sack percentage was fourth in the league. They should set aside the "Hogs 2.0" nickname until the accomplish more as a team but they are very good right now.  Top five

RELATED: 2017 REDSKINS--5 REASONS FOR CONCERN

2017 outlook

Biggest upside: Scherff was the fifth pick of the 2015 draft. He nominally was taken as a tackle although many analysts, including some at Redskins Park, figured he would end up as a guard. He is off to a good start in his career, playing nearly every snap over his two seasons and making the Pro Bowl last year. But he can get better and he has the mindset to do it.

Most to prove: Long is injured right now and that has been a minor issue with him since he became a starter. Last year he played well after taking over at center when Kory Lichtensteiger was injured but he still has a lot to learn. His contract is up after this year and if he is going to earn a solid contract from the Redskins or from any other team he must take a couple of steps up and show that he is worth a significant financial investment.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS-PACKERS MUST-SEE PHOTOS

Rookie watch: With Long sidelined until the season opener, the focus turns to Roullier. Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan have shown extraordinary confidence in the sixth-round pick, not shopping for a veteran backup center after seeing Roullier in the offseason program and in training camp. They have a better idea of what they have in him after he starts against the Bengals’ first-team defense on Sunday.

Bottom line: The offensive line is one of the strengths of the team. Williams and Scherff could go back to the Pro Bowl. Moses won’t but that’s primarily because right tackles don’t get Pro Bowl invitations. They will keep Kirk Cousins upright and on what is likely to continue to be a pass-first team, that is critical. Run blocking could be better but that top-10 average of 4.5 yards per carry last year points to issues in the run game beyond the O-line.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Trent Williams:

I think he’s going to get better. He’s lost a little bit of weight and I think he might even be a vegan, whatever that means. The things that he can do with his body and athleticism is incredible. He’s by far I think the best tackle in the league and we’re glad we have him. But it’s also good to see a guy with that type of talent and skill set work as hard as he does. That rubs off on the younger guys, the guys that are up and coming young players. They see a guy like that with much talent, that much production over the years – and Pro Bowls – work that hard, you know, it makes the other guys say, ‘Hey, I better work harder because I’m not as talented as him.’

2017 Redskins position outlook series: Wide receiver | Defensive line |

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.