Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 8, five days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.
—The Redskins last played a game 119 days ago. It will be 127 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.
—Days until: Rookie minicamp 5; OTAs start 16; Redskins training camp starts 82
—Besides the quarterback, the player on offense under the most pressure to perform this year will be Matt Jones. The team let Alfred Morris walk in free agency and they waited until the seventh round to draft his replacement. And at this point the often injured, lightly used Keith Marshall isn’t even a sure bet to make the team. Jones will need to stay healthy while averaging 15-20 carries per game, add about a yard to the 3.4 per carry average he posted last year, and make fumbles very rare occurrences.
—It’s relatively easy to plot out who will start in Week 1 and map out what is likely to happen with the depth chart but the unexpected is always out there. I was on SiriusXM radio last night with the Football Diehards and they asked me if I thought that Josh Doctson would push Pierre Garçon out of the starting lineup by sometime around midseason. While I said that I don’t think that will happen, I certainly can’t rule it out. Doctson could play well enough to force his way into the starting lineup at some point. The question would be, who would he push aside. Garçon or DeSean Jackson.
—Everyone wants to know what Su’a Cravens’ role will be this year. But we’re going to have to wait to see. The coaches can look at his college film and how fast and quick he is and sort of sketch something out. But until he gets on the field with other NFL players they really won’t know what he can do. I think it will evolve over the offseason and as training camp, the preseason, and the regular season go on. The one safe thing to say is that he will play a lot, 70 to 80 percent of the defensive snaps.
—In 2010 Brandon Banks came to rookie minicamp as a tryout player. At 5-7, 150 he made it look like one of the coaches’ middle school sons had gotten hold of a helmet and jersey and snuck onto the field. We will have a player at the other size extreme at rookie camp this Friday. Massive offensive tackle Kevin Bowen signed as an undrafted free agent out of East Central (OK). He is 6-9 and 330 pounds. It looks like he can move pretty well for his size. Bowen should be an interesting—and, because of his size, easy—prospect to keep an eye on.
Wins meter (my totally subjective prediction on how many regular season games the Redskins will win): 9—After getting Norman and drafting well they’ll be better but a tougher slate keep their record from improving.
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With the NHL adding a team in Las Vegas and the league's expansion draft taking place Wednesday, the internet started thinking about a hypothetical NFL expansion draft.
Since it's June and there's more than a month until training camp, why not give it a shot with the Redskins in mind?
Remember the rules: In the NHL, no first- or second-year players were eligible for the Vegas Knights to pluck, so the same applies here. Nobody in the last year of their deal, either.
Going off of those parameters, check out this list of Redskins players who'd be wise to protect against possible expansion.
- Kirk Cousins - Obvious. Every team needs a QB, and with a long-term deal or not, Cousins is very likely under contract with the Redskins at least for the next two seasons. That has a huge amount of value.
- Jordan Reed - This contract jumps big time in 2018, but Reed is arguably the best tight end in the NFL. An elite route runner and gifted athlete, in his last 17 starts Reed has posted more than 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. The only thing that can slow Reed is his health, and that's a guy any team would want.
- Trent Williams - Five straight Pro Bowls and perhaps the best left tackle in football makes this is a gimme. Williams is under contract through 2020, and by then, the money will seem like a bargain.
- Jamison Crowder - Only two years left on his rookie deal, Crowder probably has the most valuable contract on the Redskins roster. Poised for his first 1,000 yard season in 2017, Crowder should emerge as one of the best slot WRs in the NFL.
- Brandon Scherff - He was drafted to play tackle but it quickly became obvious that guard was the correct spot. Even with the shift in position, Scherff made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and looks primed to do the same for the next five years. Still on a rookie deal for two more years too.
- Josh Norman - Don't be surprised that the first five protected players on this list come from the offense. Norman is an elite talent, yet he's being paid as such. In 2017, he will make $20 million. From 2018 to 2020, he will make at least $14.5 million per season. His skills are undeniable, but if you're building a team from scratch, that's a lot of salary cap.
- Ryan Kerrigan - Pencil him in for double digit sacks. Count on him to work hard. Oh yeah, his contract runs through 2020. This one is easy.
- Morgan Moses - Fresh off a new deal that will keep him with the Redskins through 2022, Moses is developing into one of the top right tackles in football. This contract would get snatched up in an expansion draft.
- Preston Smith - Two years left on his rookie deal and he still has all the potential in the world. Smith flashed serious sack potential as a rookie but fell off a bit in his second season. Year 3 will tell a lot, but in an expansion situation, the Redskins would rather have him than lose him.
- D.J. Swearinger - New to the Redskins, sure, but he played quite well for the Cardinals in 2016. Washington is desperate for some stability in the back end of the secondary, and Swearinger should provide it. Plus, he's signed through 2019.
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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end | Nickel cornerback | Inside linebacker | Running back
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 22, 35 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.
The Redskins last played a game 172 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles in FedEx Field in 80 days.
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 25
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 49
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 72
Fan questions—Facebook edition
I put up a post on Facebook to get some questions from fans and while I got a lot of good ones I didn’t get any that would require an answer long enough for a full post. So I picked some questions to answer rapid-fire style.
I will do the same thing with questions I got on Twitter tomorrow.
Marc, the reality is that the Redskins took a step back last year. Their record was worse and they didn’t make the playoffs. Looking at the recent history of the Redskins, what reason would an analyst have to think that they wouldn’t continue to backslide. Quite simply, the Redskins are going to have to prove it on the field if pundits are going to predict that they will improve from year to year.
He takes risk but how much depends on why the hypothetical decline in his numbers happened. Is it simply because they passed less often? Was he less accurate? Did the receivers have trouble getting open and/or drop a lot of passes? Did game situations differ? Where there injury issues? NFL teams aren’t simply going to look at top-line numbers and determine his value from there. The “whys” will be very important.
I’m very confident that Su’a Cravens and D.J. Swearinger will be an upgrade over what they had at safety last year. Neither is going to the Pro Bowl but the new safeties should represent more than baby steps towards impriving the position. I also ask you to recall all of the talk of Josh Norman getting burned in training camp last year. He turned out to be pretty good.
I don’t make much out of them. He’s not going to bluff anyone into thinking that Nate Sudfeld is going to be a 2018 replacement for Cousins. And Mike McCartney isn’t going let a Williams “take one for the team” statement affect what he sees as a fair deal for his client. Carry on.
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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