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Need to Know: Under the radar Redskins storylines

Need to Know: Under the radar Redskins storylines

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 4, 24 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Happy Independence Day!

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 176 days ago. It will be 70 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 11; Preseason opener @ Falcons 38; Final roster cut 61

The Redskins week that was

Some under the radar storylines as we head towards the start of training camp.

Who starts at right DE?—There is plenty of chatter about what they are going to do at nose tackle but Pot Roast Knighton isn’t the only starting D-linemen gone from last year. Jason Hatcher was cut and he doesn’t have a ready replacement. Kendall Reyes took a lot of snaps there during offseason practices that were open to the media. It seems like the team would like Stephen Paea, who signed a four-year, $21 million free agent contract last year, to take control of the job. He could but we won’t know until they put on the Pads down in Richmond.

Who plays nickel cornerback?—It looks like it’s Kendall Fuler’s job to lose but he might lose it. His surgically repaired knee seems to be doing well but we will see how it holds up. Quinton Dunbar had a nice rookie season and he isn’t going to let Fuller move ahead of him on the depth chart without a fight. Dashaun Phillips got some snaps at nickel corner in OTAs and looked pretty good. And veteran Greg Toler isn’t going to fade into the sunset. It will be a fierce competition. Fuller is the favorite but he is by no means a lock.

How many O-linemen will they carry?—They’ve carried as few as eight in recent seasons and there were 10 on the roster last year. One of the determining factors will be who wins the competition at left guard. If it’s Shawn Lauvao then Spencer Long stays around as a reserve. If Long wins then they may not want to keep Lauvao (with his $5 million cap hit) around as a backup. It also will depend on whether they are comfortable with Ty Nsekhe as the lone backup tackle on the 53 or if they want to keep a second one like first-year player Takoby Cofield.

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

redskins_talk_podcast-ep76-16x9.png

#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back