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Need to Know: Who could be a surprise Week 1 starter for the Redskins?

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Need to Know: Who could be a surprise Week 1 starter for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 12, 18 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

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.

On the weekend I like to empty out the inbox and take some questions that perhaps don’t require a long explanation and answer them rapid-fire style.

The first thing that should be noted here is that the acquisition of Dashon Goldson should not affect the team’s draft plans. He’s going to be 31 when Week 2 comes around and he’s essentially on a one-year contract. A smart GM doesn’t alter his draft plans when he gets one-season patch at a position. As far as Collins, I’m skeptical that McCloughan would invest a first-round pick in a 6-0 safety who is pretty well limited to playing in the box. I think he would prefer a bigger player patrolling the secondary. Although I wouldn’t rule out taking the Crimson Tide safety if they trade back, I’d say the chances are against it.

The spotlight will be on him from the moment he steps on the field for the first OTAs up until the last practice before the start of the regular season. Each day Jay Gruden, Sean McVay, and Matt Cavanaugh will review the tape from that day’s practice and come up with a list of what Griffin needs to do to correct his flaws. I don’t think that the approach will be to let him work his way through any issues he might be having; they will be proactive in dealing with them.

I’ll give you two. Well, one and a half really. The half is Ryan Grant, who I think will push Andre Roberts out of the way and get more snaps than him as the third wide receiver. I just think he’ll work his way into a role despite his lack of blazing speed. So, to the extent that the slot receiver in a starter that’s one change that could happen. The other one is on the defensive side of the ball where Will Compton will give Perry Riley a run for his money at the Jack inside linebacker spot.

From what I have heard from one of the players on the line, they will typically line up with a four-man line in nickel situations. Jason Hatcher and Stephen Paea are likely to line up as the tackles. Pick two from Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Chris Baker and an edge defender taken in the draft to line up at end. There will be variations off of this with maybe just one or two down linemen and rushers in two-point stances coming from different angles.

Timeline

—It’s been 105 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 154 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 8; 2015 NFL Draft 18; Redskins training camp starts 109

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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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

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A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

A video posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”