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Need to Know: Who could be a surprise starter for the 2015 Redskins?

Need to Know: Who could be a surprise starter for the 2015 Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 19, 72 days before the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, VA.

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.

Good question but let’s expand it a bit. Let’s look at a few players in addition to Compton who could be surprise starters in 2015. Here are some players who have a chance at surprising some and earning a starting job at some point during the season.

Will Compton at Jack linebacker—Perry Riley was a favorite of Jim Haslett’s after being the first defensive draft pick after Haslett became defensive coordinator. Riley played nearly all of the snaps when healthy despite some issues in pass coverage. Now Joe Barry is in charge and the position could undergo some changes. It will not be easy for Compton to unseat Riley, who has 54 NFL starts under his belt to five for Compton. But there is a better chance for real competition there than there has been and Compton could have a chance.

Arie Kouandjio at left guard—I think that most would be surprised if Spencer Long didn’t beat out Chris Chester for the starting job at left guard but the Redskins’ fourth-round pick pushing Shawn Lauvao to the bench would be a shocker. They like Kouandjio a lot and it’s easy to see him quickly becoming a favorite of Bill Callahan’s and being given a legitimate shot at a job. Of the players looked at in this post Kouandjio is probably the longest shot because he has a lot to learn regarding technique and fundamentals. But if he is a fast learner he could get a shot.

Jamison Crowder at slot receiver—There has been so much praise heaped on Crowder by coaches, Scot McCloughan, and by many of us who saw him in action during the rookie camp on Saturday that it would almost be a surprise if Crowder didn’t beat out Andre Roberts. He runs smooth routes, has solid hands and looks prepared and poised on the field. It’s far from automatic, however, that a rookie will be able to push aside the five-year veteran. But it should be fun watching him try.

David Amerson at cornerback—Can it be a surprise if the guy who started 15 games at a position one year starts there again the next season? I think it would qualify in Amerson’s case since many have written him off after a poor 2014 performance and the free agent acquisition of Chris Culliver. But I am hearing talk that Amerson now realizes that he has to spend more time in the film room and take preparation more seriously. If he does that he has the physical talent to be a solid starter. He could push Bashaud Breeland to safety or slot corner and move into his old (?) job on the outside.

Timeline

—It’s been 142 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 117 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 28; Redskins training camp starts 72; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 128

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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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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