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Need to Know: Who will start at center for the 2016 Redskins?

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Need to Know: Who will start at center for the 2016 Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 10, 18 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 91 days ago. It will be about 154 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 8; 2016 NFL draft 18; Redskins training camp starts 109

Hot topic

The Redskins’ starting offensive line appears to be mostly set. Trent Williams will be at left tackle. Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff will be on the right side. Left guard looks like it will be a three-way battle between Spencer Long, Shawn Lauvao (if healthy) and Arie Kouandjio.

The identity of the starting center is up in the air. Let’s break out the $100 in imaginary casino chips and wager on the chances of each of several candidates to be the Week 1 starting center.

Kory Lichtensteiger, $45—Everyone loves to complain about the veteran and call for him to be replaced. But the run blocking seemed to go south when he missed the last 12 games of the season last year. And, going back to 2011, the line also suffered when he missed the last 11 games with a knee injury. So although he’s not a threat to make the Pro Bowl the coaches trust him and it’s going to be hard to unseat him.

Josh LeRibeus, $20—His shotgun snaps improved as the season went on but it was a harrowing session of on the job training while he got it down. LeRibeus’ blocking improved as well but you’ll notice that they couldn’t wait to activate Lichtensteiger from short-term injured reserve as soon as they could.

Austin Reiter, $15—This is based mostly on talk around Redskins Park that the coaches like his potential. He didn’t seem to do anything particularly outstanding during training camp or in preseason games last year. They cut their seventh-round pick in the final cuts last summer and they didn’t sign him to the practice squad until a few weeks later. So they can’t like him all that much but he will get a good, long look.

Nick Martin (or other draft pick), $15—At the moment I think the chances of them drafting Alabama center Ryan Kelly are pretty remote. If they do, he’s the Week 1 starter. If they do draft a center I think they will take someone like Martin in the middle rounds. That player could claw his way to a starting job by Week 1 but it seems more likely that he will learn in the beginning, have a chance to work his way into the lineup during the season, and be penciled in as the starter in 2017.

Spencer Long, $5—I’ll include Long because the possibility as been discussed. He seems to struggle with the shotgun snaps like LeRibeus did so that’s one strike. I also think they’re going to want to keep him at left guard with Lauvao’s status up in the air so that’s another strike.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

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

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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