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Need to Know: Redskins roster battles looming a week before camp

Need to Know: Redskins roster battles looming a week before camp

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 17, seven days before the Redskins start training camp.

Three and out

Here are a few roster thoughts a week from the start of Redskins training camp.

—Before OTAs, I had Santana Moss on the wrong side of the roster bubble, figuring that a team with a new coach would want to go younger at the position. But then I asked Jay Gruden about Moss after one of the OTAs and the coach was effusive in his praise. “He’s working out hard,” said Gruden. “He’s the first one out there today again, I like having guys like that, veteran guys who are great examples for rookies and also can help you win in big games.” That changed my mind on his roster status. Still, he’s going to have to battle, especially if Leonard Hankerson is healthy enough to play. Words uttered in early June don’t carry much weight when cuts come around in late August. I still think Moss is one the bubble; he’s on the good side of it but still no sure thing.

—Chris Thompson or Lache Seastrunk as the third running back? I’ve been favoring Seastrunk simply on the basis that he’s the current group’s draft pick and Thompson was taken by the old regime. But Thompson has some punt returning experience and although he had a 5.1-yard average, last year’s return unit didn’t exactly provide him or anyone else they tried at punt returner any gaping holes to run through. I wonder if they might try to stash Seastrunk on the practice squad for a year to get him to speed as a pass catcher and go with Thompson as the punt returner and receiver out of the backfield. The big concern with Thompson is his injury history. But if that pops up they could simply bring Seastrunk up from the practice squad.

—It seems likely that rookie offensive linemen Morgan Moses and Spencer Long will be starters—in 2015. But if one or both should break through and beat out the veteran incumbents to win a starting job you have to wonder what would happen to Tyler Polumbus and/or Chris Chester. Would they be kept as reserves? Or would the organization opt to jettison them and their substantial salaries ($3 million for Chester, $2.5 million for Polumbus) and go with younger and cheaper backups? I think that the chances of either one not being a starter are slim but if Long or Moses breaks through I have to think the veteran being displaced will get bumped all the way to the waiver wire.

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Timeline

—It’s been 200 days since the Redskins played a game; in 52 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener vs. Patriots 21; Final cuts 44; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 60

 Tandler previews training camp

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

One of the longest eras in NASCAR will come to an end concluding the 2017 season.

Early on Tuesday morning, Hendrick Motorsports announced that 18-year veteran, longtime Redskins fan and popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. would retire at the conclusion of the current season.

Earnhardt, son of the late legendary seven-time champion, Dale Earnhardt Sr., told his No. 88 team members before the organization released the news.

Last season, the 42-year-old missed the final 18 races of the NASCAR season due to a concussion. The injury resulted in a 32nd place finish in the NASCAR standings and it was the first time he missed the association's 'playoffs' since 2010. 

Throughout his long career, Earnhardt captured 26 race wins, two being the elusive Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. Due to the legendary status of his father, he never quite lived up to the level many placed on the Earnhardt family name. His win total is roughly a third of his father's and has not won a championship. Best career points finish for Earnahrdt was third in 2003, and finished fifth three times (2004, 2006, 2013). Starting in 603 total races, he has finished in the top 10 in nearly half of those races, 253 times.

Despite the lack of a championship, he was named NASCAR's most popular driver 14 times, trailing only Bill Elliott who won that honor 16 seasons. 

RELATED: EARNHARDT FORCED TO RACE IN EAGLES-THEMED CAR

At the end of 2017, Earnhardt's contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire after 10 seasons with NASCAR's most successful team. Prior to his tenure with Hendrick, he was a part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. for eight years where he won 17 of his total 26 race wins. 

Currently, Earnhardt is 24th in the NASCAR standings, 50 points behind the cut-off for the final playoff spot. There are still 18 races remaining in the season for him to make up the ground with some of his best tracks still on the docket. In addition, a win would boost Earnhardt up into a playoff spot due to NASCAR's playoff system. 

With Earnhardt Jr. retiring, there will be one Earnhardt remaining in the Monster Energy Cup Series to carry the family name. Grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr., and nephew of Jr., Jeffery Earnhardt is a regular in the series. 

Hendrick Motorsports announced in their release that they will not name a replacement for Earnhardt Jr. just yet. During his 18-race absence in 2016, he was replaced by a young prospect, Alex Bowman and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon.

It is anticipated either Bowman or 19-year-old William Byron, who Rick Hendrick signed to an Xfinity Series contract last season, will take his place. 

As a lifetime fan of the Washington football team, Earnhardt has been known to put his opinion of the team out there.

He was not happy with how the team handled Scot McCloughan situation, and publicly voiced his support of Kirk Cousins

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One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

Football coaches hate fumbles, and Jay Gruden is no different. Remember that Matt Jones had established himself as the Redskins lead running back despite persistent fumbling issues his first two years in the NFL. That was until a goal line fumble Week 7 in Detroit. Jones never played again in 2016. 

Fast forward to Thursday night's NFL Draft, and the buzz surrounding the Redskins interest in Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey could all boil down to fumbles.

Both Cook and McCaffrey visited Redskins Park, and both players possess the speed and game-breaking ability that could deliver big returns to the Washington offense. Since the NFL Combine, McCaffrey has emerged as the higher draft pick.

Their college statistics are fairly similar. Both players went for more than 5,000 total yards in three college seasons. The size is similar too, Cook gets listed at 6-foot, 209 lbs., while McCaffrey gets listed at 5-foot-11 and 203 lbs.

One area that's quite different: Fumbles. 

An average NFL running back fumbles once every 100 carries. Rich Tandler researched an incredible stat about the two players:

  • McCaffrey averages one fumble every 243 carries.
  • Cook averages one fumble every 63 carries. 

The difference is staggering. And it could be enough to keep the 'Skins away from Cook at 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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