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Need to Know: Redskins' Long still 'finding his way' while learning center

Need to Know: Redskins' Long still 'finding his way' while learning center

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 6, 52 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 148 days ago. It will be 98 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 52; Preseason opener @ Falcons 66; Final roster cut to 53, 89

Hot topics from the Redskins week that was

I’m still getting up to speed after being on vacation last week. I have a few thoughts on what Jay Gruden and Joe Barry had to say after last week’s OTA session.

—Gruden was asked about Spencer Long’s progress. “Yeah, at guard you see the improvement quite a bit – just the knowledge and the confidence that all the players get going into their second and third year,” he said. But he added, “Center is a different story – it is brand new to him and he’s finding his way there.” I would not expect to see Long as the team’s starting center anytime soon, and by that I mean in 2016, barring some sort of an emergency.

—Asked about the competition at left guard, Gruden mentioned Long and Shawn Lauvao. “It’s good to have two good guys at that position,” he said. Hmmm, there was no mention of Arie Kouandjio, who seems to be the fan’s choice at the position. You never know what might happen but you may have to wait until at least 2017 to see him lined up as a regular.

—Barry said that they have to have two safeties with the No. 1 defense right now and for the time being those two are DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton but that could be a temporary situation. “Hall and David Bruton are going with the first group, but we’re rolling guys in there,” he said. “Our depth chart is in pencil, it’s not in Sharpie.” So Duke Ihenacho and Will Blackmon will get their chances; while Hall and Bruton may have the inside track on the starting jobs for now the matter is far from settled.

—Everyone wants to know right now what role Su’a Cravens will play in the defense. Barry said that while he will play the weakside ILB spot for now, they think he can do a lot more. “You can play him at inside backer, you can play him at outside backer and rush him off the edge or drop him into coverage,” he said. “You can play him in the slot in a nickel position and do a bunch of things with him.” But he won’t learn all of those spots immediately. “He’s a new kid coming in, learning the playbook, learning all new terminology,” said Barry. “He’ll be the first one to tell you, the rookie minicamp, it was like we were speaking a different language, which is understandable. It’s hard for young guys at any position to come in and learn the terminology of a new playbook.”

—On the subject of DE Stephen Paea, Barry rattled off some reasons for his disappointing performance in 2015. “I think as I mentioned before, I think anytime that a player changes teams, changes systems as a veteran, there is going to be a little bit of a learning curve both in scheme and terminology and then to add into it that he got banged up, hurt his foot,” he said. Of course, what are reasons to some are excuses to others. Barry forgot to include that the dog may have eaten Paea’s homework. Free agent signings are no sure thing and Paea is going to have to prove on the field that he is ready to perform.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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!