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Need to Know: What are the Redskins' most important remaining needs?

Need to Know: What are the Redskins' most important remaining needs?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 11, two days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 122 days ago. It will be 124 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 2; OTAs start 13; Redskins training camp starts 79

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The Redskins have gone through free agency, the draft, and have signed about a dozen and a half college free agents. But they still have some needs on the team. These could be filled by someone stepping up from within, by signing a veteran free agent or by Scot McCloughan trading one of those extra 2017 draft picks that he stockpiled.

Here are the top needs that remain on the Redskins’ roster:

No. 2 running back—Or, is Matt Jones doesn’t pick it up a few notches over last year, they could be in search of a No. 1 running back. Chris Thompson isn’t built to handle a full load and seventh-round pick Keith Marshall is not a lock to even make the roster. The current free agent back who was the most productive last year was Joseph Randle, who rushed for 313 yards. But he is up to his neck in legal troubles. Joique Bell rushed for 2,235 yards in the last four years with the Lions. The preferred choice for a veteran still seems to be Pierre Thomas but a deal isn’t done.

Nose tackle—Can Kedric Golston plug the middle for 15 plays per game? Or will rookie Matt Ioannidis be the guy? The free agent options aren’t very attractive. They may go to training camp with what they have, see how Golston and Ioannidis work out, and either make a waiver claim or make a trade if they still believe they are in need.

Backup tackle—Last year Ty Nsekhe did a decent job of filling in for both Trent Williams and Morgan Moses. But he will be 31 around the midway point of the season and even though he’s a “low mileage” older player, with only two NFL games played prior to last year the Redskins may want to find a younger alternative. They didn’t draft anyone so perhaps they will give a shot to Takoby Cofield, who spent last year on the practice squad after being signed as an undrafted player.

Outside linebacker depth—You can’t have too many good pass rushers and the Redskins aren’t even close to having too many. They have three starting caliber players at the most important position on the defense in Preston Smith, Junior Galette, and Ryan Kerrigan but a lot of question marks behind them. Houston Bates may have some potential but perhaps McCloughan will want someone with more experience. And, no, the toxic Greg Hardy does not seem to be a possibility.

Stat of the day

The 1991 Redskins outscored the opposition by 261 points. That was the best post-merger point differential in the NFL until the 2007 Patriots outscored their opponents by 315 points. The Redskins are still second in that time period. They were had a point differential of plus-209 in 1983, a performance that ranks as the 15th-best since the merger.

In case you missed it 

 

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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