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Need to Know: What are the Redskins' biggest needs?

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Need to Know: What are the Redskins' biggest needs?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 17, 38 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Question of the day

We’re flipping into offseason mode with Need to Know. At least a few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question comes from the Real Redskins Facebook page.

The Redskins have needs everywhere. I can’t think of a single area on the team where Scot McCloughan can look at the depth chart and say, “I’m set there, I don’t need to add a good player at that position.” Whether it’s at the top of the depth chart or as a reserve, the team needs help everywhere.

But some needs are more urgent than others. Here are a few areas where starters or key reserves will be needed in either 2016 or 2017.

Running back—It seems likely that Alfred Morris will move on and it’s not clear if Matt Jones can be the replacement. They want a dynamic back who is capable of contributing on all three downs.

Safety—Dashon Goldson and DeAngelo Hall are short-term solutions at best. Kyshoen Jarrett appears to be a keeper but they need at least two more.

Quarterback—They will lock up Kirk Cousins with either a long-term contract or with the franchise tag. But Robert Griffin III will be gone and Colt McCoy could decide to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Defensive line—They could field three decent starters here in 2016 even if Jason Hatcher does retire. But the unit needs an injection of youth and finding one or two linemen in the draft will start the rebuild process.

There are some other areas with needs of varying degrees of urgency. They will need a new center sooner rather than later. Andre Roberts is likely to move on in free agency and the top two receivers will turn 30 this year. Niles Paul’s return will help the tight end depth chart but they still don’t have a blocking TE on the roster. Looking at some of the cornerbacks the Redskins had to use later in the year, they could use some help there.

And so on. Again, there isn’t a position on the team where they couldn’t use either a draft pick or a quality free agent at the right price.

I’m going to leave the question of free agent targets alone for right now. It’s early and there are a lot of moving parts including players who are under contract who will be cut and pending free agents who will be signed. Just keep in mind that McCloughan is not one to make a free agent splash so look for him to target younger players who won’t eat up a ton of cap space.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game seven days ago. It will be about 238 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 38; NFL free agency starts 53; 2016 NFL draft 102

In case you missed it

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Redskins promote CB Phillips from practice squad, waive Bruton Jr. and Clausell

Redskins promote CB Phillips from practice squad, waive Bruton Jr. and Clausell

The Redskins made a roster move just before departing for Arizona to play the Cardinals.

They signed cornerback Dashaun Phillips from the practice squad and cut offensive tackle Blaine Clausell. The Redskins also waived safety David Bruton Jr. off of injured reserve.

Phillips was the Redskins’ nickel corner for the first three games of the season, and he made four tackles and recovered a fumble. But they moved rookie Kendall Fuller up into the slot corner role in Week 4 and Phillips spent several weeks on the inactive list before being waived on November 12 and added to the practice squad three days later.

The moves became known after Redskins coach Jay Gruden had spoken to the media for the day so we can only speculate as to the reasoning behind them. Actually, the release of Clausell isn’t hard to figure out. He was signed after Trent Williams started his four-game suspension and with Williams set to return on Monday and the other options at backup tackle healthy there was no point in keeping him around.

Phillips is likely going to Arizona as an insurance policy. The Cardinals like to spread the field with a lot of wide receivers. They will want to have five cornerbacks active. They do have Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, and Greg Toler. But Breeland is listed as questionable with an ankle injury and they Redskins don’t want to take any chance of being caught short-handed at cornerback if he suffers a setback. That’s especially true when they don’t need to bring an extra tackle along.

Depending on how things shake out injury-wise against the Cardinals there is a good chance that we could see Phillips on the waiver wire once again as a roster spot will be needed for Williams.

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.