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Need to Know: What Redskins could be surprise contributors?

Need to Know: What Redskins could be surprise contributors?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 13, three days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.

Question of the day

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.

I’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up rich.tandler+csn@gmail.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

https://twitter.com/RackEmWillee/status/609399000219914240

Let me take your last question first. I don’t see any surprise starters. I get a lot of questions about the possibility of Martrell Spaight starting over Perry Riley or Jamison Crowder beating out Andre Roberts for the slot receiver role. But it would be highly unusual for fourth- and fifth-round picks to push past established veterans.

So, at least at the start of the year I think the 22 starters will be who the current conventional wisdom say they will be. Certainly things could change in Richmond in July and August but right now it’s hard to see an unexpected leap to the top of the depth chart.

But there almost certainly could be some players who will make unexpected contributions with some solid play. Last year it was veteran Frank Kearse, who went from the roster bubble to recording three sacks, and rookie Bashaud Breeland, who appeared to be a season away from contributing a year ago but ended up starting and making some big plays.

A few months ago it didn’t look like Duke Ihenacho had much of a chance of contributing this year, especially after the team signed Jeron Johnson to start a strong safety. But he has been splitting time with Johnson in OTAs and even if he doesn’t start he could have a role in the defense.

And Josh LeRibeus may have a new life as a backup center. With Chris Chester out the team needs an emergency backup center and LeRibeus, a 2013 third-round pick who seemed destined for bust status, LeRibeus has been working as a fill in with decent results. Here is a good place to insert the no-pads warning; things will get more difficult in July and August and we’ll find out a lot more about LeRibeus and other bubble players then.

I’ll throw one more name out among players who were on the roster last year. I’m hearing that the coaches would like for Chris Thompson to emerge as the third-down back. If he can defy his history and stay healthy he has a very good shot at the role and could be a key player on offense.

Some of the players drafted late this year could make some noise. Spaight should be a special teams standout and CB Tevin Mitchell could be an injury or two away from having a somewhat prominent role.

You have to think that an undrafted free agent or two will make the team. None have really jumped out so far but their big chances will come in camp and in the preseason games. Among the undrafted rookies I’ll be keeping an eye on are TE Devin Mahina and RB Trey Williams.

Timeline

—It’s been 167 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 92 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 3; Redskins training camp starts 47; Preseason opener @ Browns 61

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0: CORNERING THE MARKET

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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

The Redskins have interviewed some high-profile candidates for their open defensive coordinator position. When it was reported that they will meet with former Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, the reaction among the fans was, “Who?”

Let’s take a look at what Tarver’s qualifications are to get the job of running the Redskins’ defense.

Before becoming a coordinator: At the age of 22, Tarver took a coaching job at West Valley College in California, and did that while earning his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Santa Clara. After that he was a graduate assistant at UCLA for three years before getting into the NFL in 2001, when the 49ers hired him as a quality control coach. Tarver worked his way up to outside linebackers coach in 2005 and did that job until 2010, when he was let go went Mike Singletary was fired as the head coach. After a year as the defensive coordinator at Stanford, Dennis Allen hired Tarver to run the Raiders defense in 2012.

More Redskins: Early first-round draft possibilities

Note: If you want more complete stats on Tarver’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2012 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,672 (18th), points 443 (28th), takeaways 19 (26th), 3rd down 39.1% (20th), DVOA 12.5% 29th
Notable players: DT Richard Seymour, DE Lamarr Houston

It should be noted that Allen had a defensive background so he had a hand in these numbers. This team just wasn’t very good as indicated by the fact that Seymour, at age 33, was one of their best defensive players.

2013 Raiders (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,918 (22nd), points 453 (29th), takeaways 22 (21st), 3rd down 43.1% (28th), DVOA 10.3% (26th)
Notable players: S Charles Woodson

They did make an effort to shore up the defense by bringing back Woodson and drafting cornerback D.J. Hayden in the first round. But Hayden only played in eight games and Woodson could only contribute so much at age 37. The pass defense struggled, ranking 29th in DVOA.

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

2014 Raiders (3-13)

Rankings: 5,721 (21st), points 452 (32nd), takeaways 14 (30th), 3rd down 38.5% (14th), DVOA 6.3% (26th)
Notable players: LB Khalil Mack, S Woodson

Allen was fired after an 0-4 start and Tony Sparano took over as interim head coach the rest of the way. Sparano has an offensive background so perhaps Tarver is more fully accountable for these results than those in other seasons. They did draft Mack with the fifth overall pick but his impact as a rookie was limited as recorded four sacks. Hayden again missed half of the season and, again, the defense was near the bottom of the NFL.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.