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Need to Know: Who will be the Redskins' strong safety in 2015?

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Need to Know: Who will be the Redskins' strong safety in 2015?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 11, seven days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day 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.

Today's question comes from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

If you read my posts here or follow me on Twitter, you may know that I don’t see any way that Alabama strong safety Landon Collins, who could be called the peoples’ choice for the Redskins’ pick at No. 5. Even though the pick would fill a major need for the team I can’t see any way that Scot McCloughan, who has a history of taking the best available player on the board, will pull the trigger on Collins with that top pick. There certainly will be better players on the board at that point.

Taking the best available player is great but the Redskins still will need someone to play strong safety in 2015. Who can do the job? Here are three possibilities from three different sources.

—If they want to fill the position from within, Phillip Thomas could get a shot. He was the Redskins’ fourth-round pick in 2013 and he has had to persevere through a year on injured reserve and a year spent partially on the practice squad. The Fresno State product did start four games at the end of the year and, as is typical for a young safety, he played pretty well against the run but struggled in pass coverage. Perhaps after a full offseason of work with the starting secondary he could improve enough to hold the position down at least in the short term and perhaps for longer.

—Going to the veteran free agent market is the traditional Redskins way of handling a position vacancy. They may go there but they are likely to stay away from the higher-priced end of the free agent market. Jeron Johnson was an undrafted free agent pickup by the Seahawks in 2011. Scot McCloughan happened to be in the Seattle scouting department then so he’s familiar with Johnson. Kam Chancellor’s 26-year-old backup didn’t play a whole lot last year (98 snaps on defense) but if McCloughan thinks Johnson has what it takes to be a starter, the Redskins likely could get him for a very reasonable cost.

Anthony Harris of Virginia is almost certain to be available when the Redskins draft in the second round and he could well be there in the third. He’s the second-best strong safety in the draft according to many analysts. It’s always a risk relying on the second-day pick to come in and start right away. But Harris, who has good instincts and has a reputation as a fast learner, may be able to pull it off.

The answer could end up being some combination of the options above. Maybe they will bring in Johnson and he and Thomas will have a situation substitution job sharing arrangement. Or Johnson comes in and holds down the job until Harris is ready. You can fill in the blanks with the names but that is likely how it will work out. Keep in mind that it’s a rebuilding team and that a solid, long-term solution may not be found in 2015.

Timeline

—It’s been 45 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 216 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 27; Redskins offseason workouts start 68; 2015 NFL Draft 79

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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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

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Five takeaways: A lot to like about the Redskins' dominant primetime win.

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 27-10 win over the Raiders:

This was the Redskins best defensive performance since 1991. That was the last time they held an opponent to under 128 total yards. They were physical, smart, determined and they made plays. If not for two turnovers they would have had a shutout. Oakland did not cross the Washington 48 without the benefit of a gift. Just dominant. 

With a strong defense, you can do what you want to on offense. I asked Kirk Cousins how much running for a couple of yards a pop as Samaje Perine was doing early in the game helped the offense. He answered in part by saying that the offense can afford to run for a low average per carry when the defense is playing so well. That's true. A punt isn't a bad play when you are confident that you are likely to get the ball back three plays later. 

Chris Thompson just keeps getting better every week. His patience when he has the ball in his hands and his ability to burst into the opening when it's there are textbook excellent. Oh yeah, his open field speed, which he gets to show off after being patient and cutting is amazing. Even the smaller plays, like two near the end of the half, when he wove his way through the cracks in the defense and then got out of bounds after gaining everything he could, are fun to watch. He is the Redskins' offensive MVP so far. 

Doctson showed why the Redskins drafted him on one flash. Nobody is going to give Josh Doctson an MVP award but we did see his potential when he went up and took that deep pass away from David Amerson for the touchdown. Plays like that make you see why the Redskins drafted him in the first round and why they have been patient with him. He will need to develop consistency but in the meantime, splash plays like that help a lot.

It’s hard to find fault in this one. Normally in these posts, I try to find a positive in a loss and something to be critical of in a win. But it’s really hard to find much to be critical about in the immediate aftermath of this one. Jamison Crowder’s muff of a punt certainly was an issue and perhaps Samaje Perine could have made more out of the line’s blocking for him. But from the defense to Cousins to Thompson to Zach Brown to D.J. Swearinger and many more, it was as dominant a game as we’ve seen from this team in a while. Can they keep it up? Tune in next Monday from Arrowhead Stadium and we’ll find out.

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

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.