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Need to Know: Who has stepped to the head of the Redskins' rookie class?

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Need to Know: Who has stepped to the head of the Redskins' rookie class?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 4, nine days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns.

If you need to catch up on what's happening in Richmond, scroll to the bottom for a list of our posts from the last 24 hours. 

RICHMOND—Last week, Jay Gruden was asked if he would hesitate to start a rookie over a veteran player. His answer was interesting on a couple of different levels. Let’s look at the first part of his answer.

“No, that’s not my M.O,” he said. “If you look at the track record, you know in Cincinnati we had a ton of rookies playing for us and I don’t have any problem with a rookie if he’s playing well.”

I don’t think it would be accurate to say that the Bengals a lot of rookies starting when Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator there from 2011-2013. According to Pro Football Reference, Cincinnati had four rookies have roles as primary starters in three seasons: QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green in 2011, G Kevin Zeitler in 2012, and TE Tyler Eifert in 2013.

To be sure, they did have some other rookies who contributed off the bench like WR Andrew Hawkins (2011), C Trevor Robinson (2012), WR Mohamed Sanu (2012), and RB Giovani Bernard (2013). Still, I’m not sure if that qualifies as “a ton” of rookies playing but you can be the judge of that.

He names some names of 2015 Redskins rookies in his second part of his answer.

“Right now, Brandon [Scherff] is taking the first-string reps, Arie [Kouandjio] is making a strong move there at left guard, he’s doing a great job,” he said. "[Jamison] Crowder is making plays all over the field. Preston [Smith] is doing a good job on defense. Kyshoen Jarrett is doing an excellent job at safety. We’re going to let them guys keep competing and if they outplay a guy right in front of them, that’s what competition is all about. We’ll play the best guy."

What was interesting here, of course, was the names he chose to drop. We all know that Scherff is going to start and that Smith will have a substantial role in the defense despite the early struggles he has had in camp. But have the other three mentioned, picked on the third day of the draft, stepped to the head of the rookie class?

WR Crowder has displayed both good hands and impressive speed and quickness in camp. Jarrett has learned both safety positions and Gruden brought him up a day earlier as an option to replace Bashaud Breeland at nickel corner.

"Well, [he’s] got the mobility that you're looking for,” he said. “He has a quick change in direction, he's an athletic kid, and he's smart. He has picked up both safety positions relatively easily and feels good about moving into nickel.”

As of now, the chances of Kouandjio supplanting left guard Shawn Lauvao seem remote. But in 2016 Lauvao’s salary jumps up to $4 million and the team could look to go younger and cheaper at his position.

Timeline

—Redskins Hall of Fame running back John Riggins was born on this date in 1949.

Today’s schedule: Off day

—It’s been 219 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 40 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 9; final cuts 32; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 51

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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.