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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

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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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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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