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Need To Know: The Redskins week that was—A leadership void?

Need To Know: The Redskins week that was—A leadership void?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 12, 47 days before the NFL Draft.

The Redskins week that was

Redskins were coming and going this week as NFL free agency got underway. Here’s a look at some of our most popular articles of the week.

At long last, Redskins release Robert Griffin III—This wasn’t really news except perhaps to the few fervent fans who thought that by some miracle the Redskins would figure out a way to keep Griffin or possibly trade him. It ended a chapter in Redskins history that we won’t really know the full implications of for years.

Examining ripple effects from Monday's Redskins roster moves—Besides Griffin a few other Redskins departed on Monday as the Redskins cleared some cap space and set the table to get younger. There is a leadership void left by the departures of Terrance Knighton, Dashon Goldson, and Jason Hatcher. But if a team is going to get younger that is something it they will have to deal with. Players like Ricky Jean Francois and Ryan Kerrigan will have to step into the void.

After Monday's roster moves, how much cap space do the Redskins have?—The answer is not a whole lot, considering that they were over the cap after applying the franchise tag to Kirk Cousins. But they have enough to retain the players they want to keep, sign some help from the outside, and have some cushion to go into the season with.

Tom Compton's departure further depletes Redskins' 2012 draft class—I wouldn’t call the Redskins 2012 draft class depleted, I’d call it disappeared. That draft class should be forming the core of the team but only one player, Cousins, is left from it. Looking at the previous item, being tight on cap space and having poor drafts are related; draft picks should provide inexpensive, quality players.

Redskins who are still on the bubble—We’re just a few days into the league year so just because some veteran players survived the initial wave of cuts that doesn’t mean that they are not endangered. Here are some players who may still be on the chopping block due to age, cap number, and/or injury.

Osweiler contract may make a Cousins deal harder to make—It appears that the four-year, $72 million contract that quarterback Brock Osweiler got from the Texans may complicate the Redskins’ efforts to get Kirk Cousins locked up with a long-term contract. The details are in the post but suffice it to say that the most likely scenario now may be to have Cousins play out 2016 on the franchise tag.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 62 days ago. It will be about 183 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 37; 2016 NFL draft 47; Redskins training camp starts 138

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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

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

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

Tandler on Instagram

A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

A video posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”