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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.

In case you missed it

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!