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Need to Know: When healthy, Redskins' Lauvao will have to earn his job back

Need to Know: When healthy, Redskins' Lauvao will have to earn his job back

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 29, 13 days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Walkthrough 10:30; Jay Gruden press conference 2:45; Practice 3:00

—The Redskins last played a game 201 days ago. It will be 45 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets 21; Final roster cut 36; Cowboys @ Redskins 51

—Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg was born on this date in 1987.

Lauvao not promised starting job

Many have assumed that Shawn Lauvao will stroll right in and claim the starting left guard job as soon as he is healthy. But according to Jay Gruden Spencer Long, who started 13 games at LG last year after Lauvao was injured, will have something to say about who starts there.

Gruden is optimistic about Lauvao’s recovery. “I think he’s really, really close,” said Gruden. “I’d be shocked if he wasn’t ready by Saturday or as early as Monday.”

But whenever he is back he will not be at the top of the depth chart. Long has been there for a while and he will not give up the job easily.

“He’s got probably 14 or 15 games under his belt as far as a starter is concerned, and he’s taken full advantage of them and is playing with a lot more confidence,” said Gruden. “. . . When Shawn comes back, the job is not going to be handed to him. He’s going to have to come out and earn it. It’ll be a good battle.”

Many like to point out that the Redskins running game was working well when Lauvao was in the lineup. And they did rush for an average of 171.5 yards in the two games that Lauvao played (he went out five snaps into the third game). But that is an extremely small sample size. It’s not enough evidence to say that the loss of Lauvao was the reason why the Redskins’ running game finished 20th in yards per game and 30th in yards per attempt. There were issue with blocking up and down the line and the running backs often failed to locate running room when it was there.

It makes sense for Long and Lauvao to be on equal footing in the competition for the starting job. If Gruden’s prognosis is accurate we should see things start to heat up next week.

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Jordan Reed working on the fundamental. #Redskins

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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

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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