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Need to Know: Who will make the biggest difference on the Redskins' defense?

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Need to Know: Who will make the biggest difference on the Redskins' defense?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 20, 40 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

Here are a five more thoughts on the state of the Redskins after they wrapped up their offseason program. Look here and here to see what I’ve written the last couple of days.

—The biggest single difference—both literally and figuratively—between the Redskins’ defense of 2014 and the one we’ll see this year is Terrance Knighton. Barry Cofield played well at nose tackle at times over the past few years but it’s hard to make up for a lack of sheer size. When Cofield was out injured for a good chunk of last year, Chris Baker was just OK filling in. Knighton brings the size and athletic ability the position needs.

—Baker didn’t play much nose tackle during the offseason practices that were open to the media. I think he might stay on the outside for the most part and that’s probably better for him. He should play about 30-35 snaps per game at end. The new, attacking scheme plays to his strengths much more than the two-gap setup that they played last year. Baker could well play fewer snaps but make more big plays.

—It appears that Chris Thompson and Silas Redd will be competing for one job barring some sort of unexpected injury situation. Keeping four running backs plus fullback Darrel Young would create a numbers crunch that would force another position to be cut short. They both will make it only if they both make a compelling case to stay. I think Thompson might have the edge going in due to his speed but the coaches and other players really like the way Redd goes about his business. If both stay healthy (not a given with Thompson's history) it could come down to the final hours on cutdown day on Sept. 5.

—The most underrated move of the offseason may have been adding strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark. He has some different ways of doing things but just looking at the players in the pre-pads segment of the offseason you have to like the results. Players who needed to get bigger (Trent Murphy, Niles Paul) are bigger and others who needed to get smaller (Trent Williams) lost some noticeable pounds. Jay Gruden said during minicamp that the players are in great shape.

—I think that when all is said and done Jeron Johnson will end up starting at strong safety in Week 1 against the Dolphins. Duke Ihenacho has been getting plenty of snaps there with the first team but it’s probably Johnson’s job to lose. But Ihenacho isn’t going anywhere. I had him on the roster bubble for much of the spring but it looks like he’s locked into a spot. Even if Johnson does start against Miami, Ihenacho could push him all season long.

Timeline

—It’s been 174 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 85 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 40; Preseason opener @ Browns 54; final cuts 78

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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In case you missed it

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Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster: 11-20

Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster: 11-20

At CSNmidatlantic.com we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offense, defense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2017 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings over the next few weeks.

Today we’re updating the list with the players we ranked from 11-20, Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—A former top pick who has to come through after a rookie season lost to injury.

—Kirk Cousins’ front-side protector.   

—Two free agent acquisitions.

—A third-year player in a pivotal season.    

Go here to see our ranking of the 2017 Redskins, players 11-53.

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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Redskins Playbook: Pair of rookies could start season on NFI list

Redskins Playbook: Pair of rookies could start season on NFI list

With the excitement of training camp ramping up for Redskins fans, there are a number of players that the move to Richmond brings less energy. Veteran safety DeAngelo Hall is reported to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, which isn't a surprise, as well as linebacker Houston Bates.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Other players are likely to also land on the PUP to start camp, including a pair of rookies: 

  1. Rookie CB Fabian Moreau - The third round pick out of UCLA suffered a torn pectoral muscle at his UCLA Pro Day. Moreau has been spotted at Redskins Park working out but it seems unlikely his injury will be ready for full contact by late July.
  2. Rookie S Montae Nicholson - A similar scenario for the fourth round safety from Michigan State, who had surgery for a torn labrum earlier this year. Asked about both Nicholson and Moreau, Washington coach Jay Gruden provided no certain timeline.

"It will be a while," Gruden said in May. "I’m hoping maybe training camp, maybe later. It might be the regular season. We don’t know yet."

Technically, since they are rookies that sustained injuries before they joined the organization, Moreau and Nicholson will land on the non-football injury list. The functionality of that list works the same as the PUP during training camp. 

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