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Need to Know: What are the Redskins' strongest and weakest areas?

Need to Know: What are the Redskins' strongest and weakest areas?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 25, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 197 days ago. It will be 49 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Falcons 17; Final roster cut 40; Cowboys @ Redskins 55

Strengths and weaknesses

The Redskins are expected to be at least a good team and perhaps a very good one in 2016. But like most other NFL teams they have their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a quick look at what look the two strongest aspects of the team and at the two weakest.

Strengths

Pass catchers: The quality of this group has been a topic of discussion all over the league this offseason and now it’s time to see them start to do it on the field. There is no one star who is going to catch 115 passes or gain 1,400 receiving yards but the group is very deep. There are four receivers who should have at least 60 receptions, Pierre Garçon, Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson, and Jamison Crowder, and two more, Josh Doctson and Vernon Davis, who won’t catch that many only because there aren’t enough footballs to go around. The group is strong, deep, and they possess diverse skill sets.

Pass rushers: This area doesn’t get talked about as much as the receivers do but they could be just as important. They have two outside linebackers, Ryan Kerrigan and Junior Galette, who are both in their late 20’s and had double-digit sack seasons in 2014. Second-year player Preston Smith led rookies with eight sacks last year and seems to be on the verge of bigger things. Chris Baker had six sacks from his defensive end spot last year. If Joe Barry can figure out how to utilize the group properly they could give the defense its signature group.

Also on the plus side: Cornerbacks

Weaknesses

Running back: I like Matt Jones’ potential but he can’t be considered a solution at running back until he actually goes out and does it. Chris Thompson is a competent third down back but he’s not a player who makes defensive coordinators stay up late every night. Keith Marshall is fast but he needs to stay on the field if he’s going to learn how to utilize it. Maybe things will look different by the time midseason rolls around but for right now this is the most suspect unit on the team.

Safety: This is a perpetual problem area for the Redskins and it’s difficult to say with any confidence that things will be better this year. Duke Ihenacho is the only safety who has started an entire season at the position. DeAngelo Hall and Will Blackmon are converted corners and David Bruton was a special teams player and occasional starter in Denver. And it’s not like there is a youth movement there either. Bruton is 29 and Blackmon and Hall are both on the far side of 30.

Also on the minus side: Inside linebackers, defensive line

In case you missed it 

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Williams, Lichtensteiger back at practice for Redskins

Williams, Lichtensteiger back at practice for Redskins

The Redskins had two offensive linemen return to practice today and they had some others out of practice, nursing injuries.

Back were left tackle Trent Williams and center Kory Lichtensteiger. Williams has finished serving a four-game suspense for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Lichtensteiger has been on injure reserve with a calf injury since Week 4. Just before practice the team announced that he has been designated to return from IR and that his three-week practice window before the team needs to activate him starts today.

His window is unlikely to be that long. Starting center Spencer Long is in the league concussion protocol after leaving the Cardinals game on Sunday. John Sullivan finished up the game in place of Long and he is the likely starter if Long can’t play against the Eagles this Sunday. However there is not another backup center on the roster and if Long is out in Philadelphia Lichtensteiger probably will be activated to play should something happen to Sullivan.

Left guard Shawn Lauvao and tackle Ty Nsekhe were not participating in practice either. Nsekhe has been fighting through an ankle injury as he was subbing for Williams. The nature of Lauvao’s injury is unclear.

On defense, safeties Will Blackmon and Donte Whitner were absent from practice. Blackmon is in the concussion protocol. The reason for Whitner’s a sense is unknown.

Jay Gruden will update the media on the various injuries after practice.

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Jordan Reed back at practice with Redskins but in limited role

Jordan Reed back at practice with Redskins but in limited role

After missing all of last week with a shoudler injury, Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was back on the practice field for Washington, though his role was limited. 

Reed took part in team stretching and then caught passes as part of individual drills. Reed did not do blocking work with the tight end group and Reed watched as the Redskins got into one-on-one and team drills.

Reed has missed three games this season. He sustained a concussion Week 5 against the Ravens that forced him out for two games, and on Thanksgiving in Dallas he injured his shoulder, which forced him to miss last week's loss in Arizona. 

For the year, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns. Washington coach Jay Gruden called Reed "day to day" for Sunday's game against the Eagles and the coach said he can't predict how quick the tight end will return. 

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